By Godfrey Olukya
ARU, Democratic Republic of Congo
The new leader of the Democratic Republic of Congo’s opposition coalition demanded Monday that he be appointed prime minister without delay under a deal reached after President Joseph Kabila refused to leave office.
When Kabila -- president since January 2001 -- refused to step down upon his term’s expiration in mid-December, chaos ensued and opposition members joined protests during which over 50 people died.
During peace talks organized by Catholic bishops, the government and opposition coalition agreed that a presidential election would be held in December 2017 and an opposition member would serve as prime minister.
Felix Tshisekedi, who became the leader of the opposition coalition after his father Etienne Tshisekedi died last month, was named as their choice for the post but Kabila insisted that he be given three candidates to select from.
On Saturday, the heads of state of the Southern Africa Development Community encouraged the Congolese opposition to quickly propose the names of candidates.
Felix Tshisekedi issued a statement Monday opposing the idea.
“The agreement of 31 December 2016 does not provide for the submission of a list of several names for the appointment of Prime Minister as president Joseph Kabila is insisting,” he said.
He advised Kabila to appoint him without putting in place conditions he described as being intended to block him from the post.
“The coalition deplores and regrets the delay in the implementation of the agreement,” Tshisekedi said, accusing Kabila's camp of lacking the will to implement the deal.