KINSHASA, Sept 14 Backers of Democratic Republic
of Congo President Joseph Kabila and part of the opposition
agreed on Wednesday on the sequence of a series of upcoming
elections, potentially removing a major obstacle to breaking a
dangerous political impasse.
The compromise came just two days after opposition leaders
walked out of the talks on the timing of the presidential
election, which was due to happen in November but which
authorities say cannot be held before July.
The opposition had insisted the presidential election be the
next poll held. The government said local elections should take
place first, likely further delaying the presidential vote.
While Wednesday's agreement between the government and a
group of opposition parties set no specific dates, the two sides
agreed the presidential vote would be combined with legislative
and provincial elections, with local polls to be held later.
"This opens the way to a calendar that will mention the
exact date of the handover of power between the old president of
the republic ... and the newly elected president," said Vital
Kamerhe, one of the leading negotiators for the opposition.
Justice Minister Alexis Thambwe Mwamba, who is representing
Kabila's political supporters in the talks, confirmed the
"We solemnly announce to you that we will finance these
elections. Take note of it," he said.
Despite the apparent advance in the negotiations, efforts to
broker a peaceful exit from power for Kabila, who has led
Africa's leading copper producer since the assassination of his
father in 2001, remain fragile.
Congo has never experienced a non-violent transition of
power since independence from Belgium in 1960.
Most major opposition parties are boycotting the talks,
which they see as giving Kabila a chance to justify what they
say is his plan to stay in power beyond the end of his mandate
in December, breaking constitutional term limits.
Diplomats and observers fear the political crisis could
trigger a repeat of civil wars that killed millions of people
between 1996 and 2003.
(Reporting by Amédée Mwarabu; Writing by Joe Bavier; Editing by