Jan. 2, 2017 (GIN) – Difficult negotiations appear to have finally succeeded in bridging the differences between President Joseph Kabila of the Democratic Republic of Congo and opposition parties who wanted the President to abide by the constitution and step down, having served the two terms he is legally allowed.
President Kabila had sought to stay until 2018 but will now step down by the end of next year.
The deal was concluded on New Year’s Eve in the capital Kinshasa, according to negotiators, ending a lengthy stalemate in the country.
“We have reached agreement on all points,” said Marcel Utembi, the bishop who chairs the Episcopal Conference overseeing the talks.
Alexis Thambwe Mwamba, DRC’s justice minister, confirmed, saying: “Everything is settled.”
“We got the main thing: we have the commitment of President Kabila not to touch the Constitution, neither revising it nor going to a referendum,” said Felix Tshisekedi of the opposition.
Under the terms of the agreement, fresh presidential elections will be held at the end of 2017. Kabila can stay in power until he hands over to an elected successor.
The opposition had previously demanded Kabila’s immediate departure from public life.
Until the deal was announced, anger was rising around the country. More than 40 people are thought to have died and hundreds were arrested during two days of violence.
Using Twitter, Jackson Mukunda, an activist for change in Congo, tweeted: “If Kabila stays past the constitutional deadline of December 19, other deadlines mean nothing.”
Afterwards, he wrote: “Let’s see what the next few days bring… the reversal of Kabila has spiced the sauce …”
Meanwhile in Gambia, President Yahya Jammeh continues to reject the outcome of the recent election, which put him numerically behind opposition leader Adama Barrow. Jammeh’s party is challenging the results in court.