President Jacob Zuma has urged government and opposition political leaders of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) to resume dialogue to unlock the impasse over the staging of the national elections.
The postponement of the presidential election, due in December, led to protests in September last year which left some 50 people dead.
The opposition has accused government of delaying elections to keep him in power. Government says vote preparations, including a census need about 18 months.
President Zuma spoke ahead of bilateral talks with his visiting DRC counterpart Joseph Kabila:
“The people of the DRC need to determine and decide their political future through negotiations and dialogue. We wish to reiterate that dialogue not conflicts is the best way to resolve problems. We wish to convey our solidarity and support.”
Kabila’s official visit to South Africa was, however, marked by protests as scores of DRC nationals gathered at the main entrance of the Sefako Makgatho presidential guesthouse denouncing Kabila.
The protesters said the meeting between Zuma and Kabila was a non-event. “Our Constitution dictates that at the end of his second term Kabila must have vacated from power. An election must have happened, but he hasn’t made that election happen. He has no legitimacy to be called a president because we need free and fair elections to elect a leader of the DRC,” a protest leader Jean Bwasa said.
“When somebody is illegitimate and illegal, how do you recognise the deals and the trade bilateral deals that he is signing here? They are irrelevant. They are void and nullified. When we have a new, legitimate government, these deals will not be recognised by the people of Congo. Whatever they are signing today is their private business. It doesn’t concern the DRC,” he said.
Several police officers manned the main entrance of the presidential guesthouse, vetting all people driving into the venue. Public order policing vehicles also arrived at the venue. –Additional reporting ANA
Click below to watch the bilateral talks:
– By SABC