UN chief delays DR Congo visit as Kabila eyes 'important decisions'

Friday July 13 2018


UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Thursday said he had agreed to postpone his visit to the Democratic Republic of Congo to allow President Joseph Kabila to announce "important decisions."

Guterres was due to visit the country this month as it prepares for elections in December that Western powers hope will mark the end of Kabila's rule.

"The reason that was given for the delay was that the president will ... announce very soon, a number of important decisions," Guterres told a news conference at UN headquarters in New York.

He did not provide details, but there are expectations that Kabila could announce soon whether he will step aside.

Guterres said Kabila did not want to "give the impression" that his decision was taken "because of international pressure."

In power since 2001, Kabila has not clearly stated whether he will step aside -- despite appeals from the United States, France and Britain for him to clearly state that he will not seek re-election.


Guterres said he had received confirmation from Kinshasa that his visit will be welcome "in the near future," but no date was announced.

If Kabila "wants to give the impression that no international pressure has lead him to take the right decision, I will be very comfortable with the postponement," said Guterres.

US Ambassador Nikki Haley was also planning a visit to the DR Congo ahead of the elections but that was also postponed, according to UN officials.

Candidates for the December 23 presidential election must declare their bid between July 25 and August 1. 

The Security Council has stepped up its focus on the DR Congo as it heads toward the December vote, with concerns over violence running high.

The DR Congo hosts the UN's biggest peacekeeping mission, MONUSCO, with some 17,500 troops and police.


© Agence France-Presse