Kabila agrees to UN chief's request to visit DR Congo

28 February 2018 - 09:42 By AFP
Congo's President Joseph Kabila.
Congo's President Joseph Kabila.
Image: REUTERS/Yves Herman/File Photo

Democratic Republic of Congo President Joseph Kabila has agreed to a request from UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to visit his country ahead of elections later this year, the UN spokesman said Tuesday.

Guterres wrote to Kabila to propose a joint visit with African Union chairman Moussa Faki Mahamat following a series of meetings he held on the sidelines of the AU summit in Addis Ababa in late January.

There is growing international concern that the DR Congo could slide into all-out violence as it heads to elections on December 23.

"I can confirm that a letter was sent and that a message came back that they would be welcome in Kinshasa at their earliest convenience," UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric told AFP.

No date has been set for the visit.

The elections in the vast mineral-rich African country are expected to pave the way to a historic transfer of power.

But Kabila, who took over from his father Laurent after he was assassinated in 2001, has not yet clearly stated whether he will step aside.

Anti-government protests have turned deadly over the past months, despite UN appeals to Kabila to rein in his security forces.

Two people were killed over the weekend in Kinshasa, including prominent opposition activist Rossy Mukendi, who was shot by security forces, according to witnesses.

Fifteen people were killed Monday during clashes between a local militia and army troops in the troubled Kasai region, according to local government officials.

The violence has pitted Kinshasa authorities against the Catholic church, which has backed the demonstrations that have denounced Kabila's government as corrupt.

The United Nations is also investigating the murder of two UN experts who were gathering information about mass graves in the Kasai region when they were killed in March 2017.

There has been little progress in identifying the murderers of American Michael Sharp and Swede Zaida Catalan.

A separate investigation is under way on the attack that killed 15 UN peacekeepers and wounded 43 others in December in North Kivu.

The DR Congo also hosts the UN's biggest peacekeeping mission, MONUSCO, with some 17,500 troops and police.