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Mediators in DRC set tough deadline for opposition and Kabila

The mediators, mainly churchmen and women, have a deadly imperative attached to their work.

A man is arrested by a member of the military police after people attempted to block the road with rocks, in the neighbourhood of Majengo in Goma, eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo. Picture: AFP.

PRETORIA – Mediators in the Democratic Republic of Congo have set themselves a tough deadline for striking a deal between the opposition and a president who is staying in power after his constitutional term expired two days ago.

They says they want to determine an election date suitable to both sides by Christmas.

The mediators, mainly churchmen and women, have a deadly imperative attached to their work.

The death toll from protests this week against President Joseph Kabila’s cling to power is approaching three dozen.

They include a South African peacekeeper.

Kabila maintains the constitution allows him to stay in office until an election can be held.

And if a new voters’ roll has to be drawn up, this could take until mid-2018.

Major opposition groups are having none of it.

They say the Congolese people must go to the polls with months.

Meanwhile, the UN mission in DRC has confirmed 19 deaths and 45 injuries from gunshots during protests on Tuesday against President Joseph Kabila for overstaying his mandate, the human rights director said on Wednesday.

“We are very concerned by the excessive use of force by state agents, notably the (police), the Republican Guard, the military police and the National Agency of Intelligence,” Jose Maria Aranaz, head of the UN human rights office in Congo, told reporters in the capital Kinshasa.

(Edited by Leeto M Khoza)