Democratic Republic of Congo’s President Joseph Kabila on Thursday said that a presidential election planned for December would go on as planned, but declined to say whether he would step aside or stand for another term.
“The course toward … the election scheduled for December is therefore maintained,” Kabila said. He said the government would finance the elections itself so as to avoid “blackmail” by foreign powers that have criticised repeated delays to the vote.
Kabila is barred by the constitution from seeking a third term in the election, but there have been talk of possible alterations to the constitution to allow him run again.
If the 47-year-old does step down, that would mark the DR Congo’s first democratic transition since independence in 1960.
Kabila was due to step aside in December 2016, but the failure by the country to conduct a scheduled election in November meant he stayed on as president.
The failure to hold that election sparked clashes in the country, killing dozens of people and displacing thousands.
Earlier this year, following international pressure, the DR Congo government confirmed that the presidential vote would be conducted on 23 December.
The deadline for candidates to declare they will run is due in less than three weeks.