Belgium has welcomed the decision by Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) President, Joseph Kabila not to contest the December poll.
In a statement issued on Thursday, Belgium has also called for a credible and inclusive electoral process.
“Following the nomination of a presidential candidate for the Front Commun pour le Congo (FCC), Belgium welcomes the fact that the current president, Joseph Kabila Kabange, thereby renounces a third mandate, as stipulated in the Constitution and in the New Year’s Eve Agreement of 2016,” the statement reads in part.
It adds, “In line with the EU and its international partners, Belgium underlines the importance of a truly credible and inclusive electoral process, in conformity with the Constitution and the New Year’s Eve Agreement of 2016. This should allow all Congolese to participate in the election process and to freely elect the candidate of their choice.”
On Wednesday, the DRC government announced that Kabila will not stand in December’s presidential election and revealed that former interior minister Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary would be the ruling coalition’s candidate.
The announcement by spokesman Lambert Mende at a news conference put an end to years of speculation about whether Kabila would defy term limits to run for a third term.
Kabila was due to step down in 2016 at the end of his constitutional mandate but the election to replace him was repeatedly delayed. That sparked protests in which the military and police killed dozens of people. Militia violence also rose in the country’s volatile eastern borderlands.
“Belgium fully supports the calls from the Chairperson of the African Union Commission as well as from the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs to fully respect the rights and liberties of all Congolese as needed in order to ensure peaceful elections on the planned date of 23st December 2018,” the statement from the Belgium government adds.