Kabila's decision to step aside won't change the DRC's power dynamics

1 day 11 hours ago
Anti-Joseph Kabila protesters left five people dead and scores injured in Kinshasa. Robert Carrubba/EPA-EFE

The ruling party in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), The Peoples’ Party for Reconciliation and Democracy, made an announcement recently that took everybody by surprise — that Joseph Kabila will not be its presidential candidate come the December 2018 general election.

Kabila has been in power since 2001 and was widely expected to cling to the presidency beyond his constitutional term limits. He took over after the assassination of his father Laurent Désiré Kabila who had overthrown Mobutu Sese Seko in 1997.

The country has been on tenterhooks since late July when the nomination period opened, tensely awaiting Kabila’s decision on his candidacy. He was barred from running for a third term under the country’s constitution. But many feared he would do so anyway.

The US welcomed Kabila’s decision to stand down. But Nikki Haley, US ambassador to the United Nations, noted that much more still needed to be done in terms of ensuring a stable democratic transition in the DRC.

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Bribery and buying favours: why Uganda's MPs want longer terms

5 days 6 hours ago
President Yoweri Museveni has been given the legal go-ahead to run for the presidency again. Mike Hutchings/Pool/EPA

Uganda’s Constitutional Court has removed the constitutional age-limit for presidential candidacy. It was previously 75. As a result, President Yoweri Museveni – who has been in office since 1986 and is 73 years old – can now vie for another term. The judges’ argument, in a majority ruling, was that the electorate could still decide whether or not to vote for Museveni. Because they had a choice, the judges argued, their fundamental rights were not infringed by the change.

Museveni’s response to this apparent victory might seem a little ungracious for a man who had apparently just been handed a significant victory: in a speech shortly after the ruling, he complained that

our judges in Uganda spend more time on form and not on substance.

Museveni’s annoyance arose from a second element to the judges’ ruling. The age-limit act had been amended as it passed through parliament to extend both the presidential term, and the life of parliament, from five to seven years. The judges struck this change down. This means that Uganda’s next elections will be held in 2021, rather than in 2023 as Museveni had hoped.

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5 hours 22 minutes ago
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