Groups on peace deal in DR Congo

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President Joseph Kabila of DR Congo
President Joseph Kabila of DR Congo ready to leave power

Rival groups have agreed to a deal to ease DR Congo of its perilous political crisis in the New Year.

The country is one of Africa’s most troubled countries, Africa Review reported on Monday.

Under a landmark accord, the country’s contested president, Joseph Kabila — who under the Constitution should have left office on December 20 — will stay in power until elections are held at the “end of 2017”.

During this 12-month period, a so-called National Transition Council will be set up, headed by opposition leader Etienne Tshisekedi, and a prime minister will be named from opposition ranks.

The deal was reached on Sunday after talks launched by the Roman Catholic church amid escalating violence on, claiming between 40 and 100 lives as Kabila’s second and final mandate ended and he showed no signs of stepping down.

Several last-minute hitches nearly derailed an accord before the deal was announced late Saturday after a 13-hour marathon.

Archbishop Marcel Utembi, head of the National Episcopal Conference of Congo, described the accord as an “inclusive political compromise.”

Foreign observers hailed the agreement, but also cautioned of the work that lay ahead.

EU foreign affairs supremo Federica Mogherini, in a statement with Neven Mimica, the European commissioner for international cooperation, said the agreement “should open the way towards a consensual and peaceful transition.”

But, they warned, “during the transition period, the institutions of state will draw their legitimacy both from their inclusiveness and their ability to implement the agreement in all its respects.”

The head of the UN Mission in the Congo (Monusco), Maman Sidikou, also welcomed the deal.
But, said Sidikou, “work must continue, it is necessary to safeguard political stability by implementing every point of this new political roadmap”.

Resource-rich but chronically poor, sapped by corruption and politically unstable, Democratic Republic of Congo has never witnessed a democratic transfer of power following polls since independence from Belgium in 1960.

Two decades ago, the country collapsed into the deadliest conflict in modern African history.

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