Draft deal agreed on DR Congo crisis: Mediators, govt

AFP , Saturday 31 Dec 2016

Opposition parties reached agreement Saturday with the government on a deal to end a political crisis over DR Congo President Joseph Kabila's fate that has caused months of deadly unrest, a church mediator and officials said.

The talks were launched by the Roman Catholic church to ward off violence as Kabila's second and final mandate ended on December 20 with no sign of him stepping down and no election in sight.

"We have reached agreement on all points," said Marcel Utembi, who chairs the Episcopal Conference (CENCO) overseeing the talks.

"There will be a plenary session at 8:00pm (1900 GMT) to formally adopt it and a solemn signing ceremony at 8:30pm."

Justice Minister Alexis Thambwe Mwamba confirmed a deal had been reached, saying: "Everything is settled."

However a spokesman for Kabila's longtime rival, Etienne Tshisekedi, said negotiators would submit the deal to the 84-year-old opposition leader for approval before returning to sign the accord.

"We want to be absolutely sure" (of Tshisekedi's response), said his advisor Valentin Mubake.

A working document for the deal previously seen by AFP proposed a "political transition" with fresh presidential elections to be held at the end of 2017. A prime minister would come from opposition ranks.

That document also guaranteed Kabila would not seek a third mandate.

In return, the opposition would accept that Kabila remain in office until he hands over to an elected successor.

The opposition had previously demanded his immediate departure from public life.

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