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Kabila hints at 2023 comeback

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Decomcratic Republic of Congo President Joseph Kabila has said he would leave office after the December 23 elections, but may seek re-election in the future.

Kabila, 47, said he would remain in politics after the poll as “there is still a long journey ahead”.

He became president of the resource-rich African state in 2001 following the killing of his father Laurent.

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His presidential mandate ended in 2016, but he has stayed in office as elections were repeatedly delayed.

Dozens of opposition supporters have been killed in protests demanding that he step down and elections be held.

The election commission finally set December 23 as the election date, saying it had not been possible to hold the poll earlier because of difficulties in registering voters in a country with poor infrastructure and conflict in the mostly lawless eastern region.

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DR Congo has not had a peaceful, democratic transfer of power since independence from Belgium in 1960.

“We intend to make the elections as close to perfection as they can possibly be,” Kabila told Reuters news agency.

He added: “Observers who think that the elections will not be free and fair, I am yet to see those observers come and state where they think we are lacking.”

Kabila is backing his former Interior Minister, Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary, in the election.

The European Union imposed a travel ban and asset freeze on Shadary last year after accusing him of human rights violations, including cracking down on the opposition.

The election is expected to be a tight contest between him, opposition leader Felix Tshisekedi and business tycoon Martin Fayulu Madidi.—BBC

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