KINSHASA, Congo (AP) — A senior adviser to Congo President Joseph Kabila on Wednesday said Kabila is entitled to stay in power past the end of his mandate if elections aren’t held on time, a position sure to anger opposition critics who accuse the president of disrespecting the constitution.
“The president is covered by the constitution to continue to manage the running of the country until it has a new elected president. This was confirmed by the Constitutional Court,” said Barnabe Kikaya Bin Karubi, a diplomatic adviser to Kabila who spoke by phone while on a visit to Washington.
He was referring to a May court ruling empowering Kabila to stay on if the vote, scheduled for November, is delayed.
Kabila is officially due to leave office when his second and final term expires in December, but critics have accused him of plotting to stay in power.
The United Nations has warned of renewed violence and instability in the central African country that has never had a peaceful transfer of power.
In an apparent attempt to address the anxiety, the leader of Kabila’s political party said this week that the president had no plans to stand for a third term.
But the opposition has worried more about Kabila staying on by delaying the vote instead. Congo’s electoral commission has said it will be impossible to organize a credible vote by November.
Main opposition party spokesman Bruno Tshibala said Tuesday that party leaders still “have the distinct impression that Kabila does not want to respect the constitution.”
Revision of the electoral register is scheduled to begin on July 31. The electoral commission announced Tuesday that the government had released $120 million for the process.