Zambian President Edgar Lungu has warned the people of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) that friendship between the two countries depends on incumbent President Joseph Kabila being able to run for a new term, despite his mandate ending at the end of 2016, Zambia’s Observer newspaper reported on Monday.
Lungu issued his warning at State House during Kabila’s two-day visit to Zambia and in defiance of many Congolese, regional and international actors, angry at the Kabila’s refusal to cede power.
The Zambian president said that Kabila “was a very good president who was loved by more than 60 percent of Congolese”, adding that opposition members “should not infringe on the rights of the majority who would love Kabila to continue governing”.
Lungu – who has been accused by political opponents at home of being autocratic and behind the arrest of political opponents, including opposition leader Hakainde Hichilema who was detained last year on treason charges that were subsequently dropped – seems to be swimming against the tide of a consensus.
The DRC has been wracked by violence and unrest, incorporating an attempt by the military to defeat numerous violence militias and a bloody crack-down by security forces on political opponents.
Much of this unrest is attributed to Kabila’s refusal to step down and his repeated delay of new elections despite a peace deal brokered by the Catholic Church which outlined his exit from office in 2017.
Lungu further advised foreigners not to interfere with domestic issues in Congo and Zambia.
“These people (western countries) should desist from interfering in our domestic affairs, if our people want us to stay in office beyond the constitutional limit, that’s our own choice and so no one should be allowed to intervene,” said Lungu.
– African News Agency (ANA)