The main opposition leader in the Democratic Republic of Congo has strongly condemned electoral commission head Corneille Nangaa for announcing that elections to replace President Joseph Kabila will probably not take place this year.
Felix Tshisekedi tweeted that the statement amounted to “a declaration of war” on the Congolese people.
Deadly demonstrations erupted when President Joseph Kabila refused to stand down after his mandate expired last year.
In a deal later brokered by the Roman Catholic Church, it was decided that he could remain in office until December this year.
In an interview with France’s TV5Monde, Mr Nangaa said:
“The parameters at our disposal give us, more or less, reason to think that, in December, it will probably not be possible to stick to that date.”
The commission has still failed to compile an electoral register, and the poll has also been out in doubt by fighting between government and militia forces in the central Kasai region.
In a media interview, Mvemba Dizolele, a Congolese-born academic based in the US, said the opposition leader’s reaction was not surprising:
“Those words may be tough to swallow but the sentiment behind them may not be far-fetched.Here is a president who was given everything he needed to succeed in 2006 and 2011 and he has chosen not to succeed for one reason or another. Only he can explain.”
He also said that the unrest in Kasai, which the UN estimates has killed some 400 people and displaced 200,000 displaced, could be aimed at weakening the opposition:
By destabilising that region, what the government is doing is really denying the opposition a big part of its base.”