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DRC crisis: South Africa expresses concern, calls for restraint

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DRC crisis: South Africa expresses concern, calls for restraint
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South Africa says it is concerned about the volatile political situation in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and has expressed the willingness to assist in any way to restore peace asking the international community to increase its efforts in that direction.

South Africa continues to call on all parties to exercise restraint and to take urgent steps to end the violence and restore the protection given to the people of DRC through its Constitution.

A statement issued by the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO) on Tuesday said South Africa also condemned the outbreak of violence, acts which ‘‘threaten the hard-won democratic gains made by the DRC through the past two elections.’‘

The government added its voice to international calls on major political stakeholders for peaceful solutions to the current crisis which has seen President Kabila staying on in power beyond his constitutionally mandated term.

‘‘South Africa renews the call on all stakeholders to uphold the principles, ideals and aspirations of the Congolese people as enshrined in the DRC Constitution in accordance with the SADC and AU principles and guidelines governing democratic elections.

‘‘South Africa continues to call on all parties to exercise restraint and to take urgent steps to end the violence and restore the protection given to the people of DRC through its Constitution,’‘ the statement added.

In the wake of protests by Congolese living abroad, one of which was staged at the DRC embassy in Pretoria on Tuesday, the statement also admonished, ‘‘the Congolese Diaspora is urged to work through their political leaders in the DRC, and not to resort to violence.’‘

Kabila’s continued stay in power was as a result of a court ruling this year which said he could stay in power beyond his second term which was supposed to expire on December 20. The court ruled that till the next polls Kabila could act in the capacity of president.

The electoral body has disclosed that the inability to organize polls were as a result of non availability of a register and funds to organize the polls. They have projected that the most likely date for next elections will be in April 2018.

The main opposition led by political heavyweight Etienne Tshisekedi has vowed to resist Kabila’s stay in power. Opposition elements have clashed with security officials leading to deaths and injuries. The latest clash was on December 20. The UN reported the death of 20 whiles the government put the figure at 11.