A key opposition party in the Democratic Republic of Congo said on Monday it was withdrawing its representative from the country’s transitional government because a hard won peace accord was not being implemented.
The Union for the Congolese Nation (UNC) said in a statement it was pulling out Pierre Kangudia Mbayi, who is currently DR Congo’s minister of state in charge of budget.
The UNC — the third opposition party in parliament — signed onto a peace deal at the end of 2016 aimed at avoiding fresh political bloodshed after President Joseph Kabila refused to step down when his second and final mandate ended in December.
Kabila was allowed to remain in office pending the elections, ruling in tandem with a transitional watchdog and a new premier, to be chosen within opposition ranks.
Elections were supposed to take place this year as part of that deal, but the country’s electoral commission announced this month there will be no vote before early 2019.
The UNC said it made the decision to withdraw Kangudia after “an evaluation of the level of implementation of the agreement,” adding that it was also denouncing the delay and non-organisation of elections.
The international community has strongly urged a clear poll timetable be released, while the United Nations says the current situation has created “tensions and a climate of uncertainty” in the vast resource-rich African country.
The UNC’s decision comes ahead of a trip to the country next week by Nikki Haley, the US ambassador to the United Nations, who will be the highest-ranking administration official to visit Africa.
The United States has joined calls from the Security Council for Kinshasa to announce a date for elections.
Meanwhile the head of the UN in the country called on the Congolese authorities on Monday to release opposition members arrested in the southeastern city of Lubumbashi for allegedly insulting Kabila.
In a separate incident, riot police using teargas dispersed supporters who had gathered at the city’s airport to welcome leader Felix Tshisekedi of the main opposition Union for Democracy and Social Progress (UDPS).
Several others were arrested Sunday in the same city.