Outgoing President Ian Khama has weighed in on the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) president, Joseph Kabila for delaying the presidential election in the central African nation.
In his farewell message to Francistown residents on Friday, Khama slammed Kabila for being responsible for DRC’s failure to reach its full economic potential despite its mineral riches.
The DRC polls were originally slated for November 2016. However, on October 10 2016, Congo’s electoral commission said it needed at least 504 days to organise the polls once the voters’ registration got completed.
Following the postponement, Kabila and the opposition in the DRC had initially agreed at the beginning of 2017 that the polls would be held on December 31, 2017 but it was never to be again with the elections being delayed to 2019.
Dozens of Congolese people are dying in protests against Kabila’s refusal to step down at the end of his term. Parts of the DRC are in the hands of insurgents who say they will not stop fighting while he remains in power.
Kabila, who came to power in 2001 after the assassination of his father Laurent Kabila, said the election delays are due to difficulties in registering voters and mobilising funds.
In the face of yet another abuse of authority, the opposition in the DRC said Kabila had declared war on the Congolese people and therefore have disqualified themselves. However, it is not only the Congolese people who are angered by the endless postponements.
Khama is troubled by the developments and has urged Kabila to kindly accept the reality of his country’s constitution and step down.
“We have one of the leaders in the (Southern African Development Community) SADC region who is not willing to obey the rule of law. He has been delaying elections for his self-interest which is a bad thing,” said Khama without mentioning Kabila’s names.
Khama said Kabila and a number of other African dictators play different dangerous tricks in order to prolong their stay in power. He said some African leaders with tyrannical tendencies go to an extent of amending the constitution in order to accommodate their stay.
“Amending the constitution should be the will of the citizens not a single person,” advised Khama amid a thunderous round of applause from the audience.
“They (African dictators) think they are only the ones who are capable of leading their respective countries. But if you look around, there are a lot of capable people,” said Khama, adding that he is stepping down because there are capable leaders in Batswana.
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Former High Court Judge Justice Mphaphi Phumaphi paid homage to Khama for respecting the rule of law throughout his tenure. Phumaphi, who spoke on behalf of the elderly community of Francistown, said leaders should be exemplary on respecting the rule of law.