Congo’s current President Joseph Kabila will not seek a third mandate in the Central African country’s upcoming December elections because of constitutional term limits that prevent him from running again, Prime Minister Bruno Tshibala said on Tuesday.
“The elections are going to take place without the participation of President Kabila who will abide by the spirit and the letter of the constitution,” Tshibala said in an interview with Reuters on the sidelines of the International Economic Forum of the Americas, Conference of Montreal.
“President Kabila has kept on repeating he will respect the constitution,” Prime Minister Bruno Tshibala said in an interview Monday at the Conference of Montreal. “This implies that he could not seek a third mandate.”
Tshibala’s comments follow signs in the mineral-rich Democratic Republic of Congo that Kabila, who succeeded his assassinated father Laurent in 2001, is prepared to run for a third elected term.
Tshibala said the elections are still scheduled to take place on Dec. 23.
“These elections will take place at the expected date,” he said.
Tshibala said Kabila would attend an African leaders’ meeting next week in Luanda to convey the message that Congo would respect “our commitments,” in holding the elections.
Growth in the Central African nation, which relies on exports of copper, cobalt, gold and other minerals for most of its revenue, averaged 5.5 percent under Kabila between 2001 and 2016, according to World Bank data. The expansion has slowed in the past two years, with the International Monetary Fund estimating rates of 3.4 percent and 2.4 percent in 2017 and 2016.
The slowdown, from growth in excess of 9 percent earlier this decade, was the result of a slump in commodity prices, Tshibala said. Gross domestic product is expected to expand 4.8 percent this year, thanks to a recovery in metal prices.