Tension continues to rise in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) as the end of President Joseph Kabila’s second term in office draws near.
The Congolese president, who is supposed to respect the Constitution and leave power on 19 December 2016, is suspected by the opposition of sabotaging the electoral process to stay beyond that do-or-die date.
But Moise Katumbi, the notorious chairman of TP Mazembe – a famous African soccer team – has warned that the country risks to descend into violence and chaos if the Rais does not resign by 20 December.
Come 20 December 20 2016, Joseph Kabila will no longer lead the DRC, Katumbi said.
However, it remains unclear how Katumbi intends to stand on Kabila’s way to ensure that the 45-year-old president does not get an unconstitutional third term in office.
Katumbi, once a staunch ally and a faithful yes-man of Kabila for more than a decade, has now become his sworn enemy. He now lives in exile in Europe after a court in Kinshasa found him ‘guilty’ of recruiting South African and US mercenaries to overthrow the government.
He was sentenced to three years in jail n absentia for another matter related to the sale of a building in the city of Lubumbashi, the capital of Katanga, a mineral-rich province he ruled for almost a decade.
Nevertheless, Katumbi is determined to fight on. “Neither the sentences, nor the harassment to which I have been subject, or the physical violence, can shake our determination,” he said last week.
The DRC presidential elections, which were planned to be held in November, look set to be postponed due to the lack of funds and other unpredictable challenges.
But the international community, in particular the US and the European Union, believe the DRC government is purposefully trying to delay the elections to allow Kabila to stay on beyond his legal term in office.
The DRC is one of the richest countries in terms of natural resources, but the UN said more than 63% of its people live in extreme poverty.
Unemployment stands at about 95%. Only 10% of the 9 000 youths that graduate from tertiary institutions every year find jobs, the African Economic Outlook said.
More than 10 million Congolese are believed to be living abroad to escape hunger, Aids, mosquitoes, illegal detention, torture, political intolerance, lack of freedom of expression, state corruption and witchcraft.