About three-quarters of the people in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) say President Joseph Kabila should step down at the end of his term and that they would vote for an opposition candidate if elections were held this year, according to a new poll.
The survey found that 74% of respondents believe Kabila should leave office when his mandate expires on December 19. More than 80% rejected changing the Constitution to allow the president to run for a third term and only about one in five said they would vote for a member of Kabila’s ruling coalition if elections were held this year, according to the poll by the Kinshasa-based Bureau d’Études, de Récherche et de Consulting International and New York University’s Congo Research Group.
Elections, which were due to be held in Africa’s biggest copper producer next month, were postponed until April 2018 under a political agreement reached last week with a small number of opposition parties. The national electoral body says it needs the extra time to complete voter registration.
Most of the DRC’s opposition figures boycotted the talks and continue to call on Kabila, who will now retain office until the vote is held, to leave in December as required by the Constitution. Opposition leaders, including Moïse Katumbi and Étienne Tshisekedi, accuse the president of purposely blocking vote preparations to hold on to power.
In September, more than 50 people died when opposition supporters clashed with security forces in protests against delays to the election process. Both the United States and United Nations have warned of the risks of further violence.
“Public opinion has tilted sharply against the ruling coalition,” the polling groups said. Their study, conducted between May and September, interviewed 7 545 people across all of the DRC’s 26 provinces.
Katumbi, the former governor of copper-rich Katanga who left the ruling party last year, was the most popular leader in 16 provinces, with 33% of those surveyed nationally saying they would vote for him, followed by Tshisekedi with 18% support.
“Kabila is in a very difficult position,” Congo Research Group director Jason Stearns said. “Not only is he not popular enough to win elections, and the population does not want the Constitution to change to allow him to run again, but there was no one within his inner circle who comes even close to being popular enough to win a presidential election.” – Bloomberg