Congolese President Laurent Kabila pledged at the United Nations on Tuesday that elections planned for December will go ahead, promising to take steps to ensure the vote is peaceful and credible.
In power for two decades, Kabila this year bowed to international pressure and agreed to step aside, allowing a new candidate to stand in the December 23 vote in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Addressing the General Assembly, Kabila said that despite the challenges of holding elections in his vast country, “I now reaffirm the irreversible nature of our decision to hold the elections as planned at the end of this year.”
“Everything will be done in order to ensure that these elections are peaceful and credible,” said Kabila.
The United States, France and Britain had urged Kabila to state clearly that he would not seek another term amid fears that his failure to step aside could trigger violence.
The DR Congo has never known a peaceful transition of power since independence from Belgium in 1960.
Kabila vowed to “oppose any interference in the electoral process under way” and said the DR Congo state would cover the full cost of the elections which has involved a complicated voter registration.
The Security Council is planning to visit the DR Congo before the elections, possibly in October, as concerns run high over a risk of election violence.
In his address, Kabila renewed his call for the withdrawal of the UN peacekeeping mission MONUSCO — the UN’s biggest peace operation with some 17,500 troops and police — from his country.
The vast mineral-rich country is wracked by conflict in the east and Kabila’s security forces have been accused of resorting to excessive force against the opposition.