Congo deal signed, President Kabila agrees to step down

Kinshasa, Jan 1 (IANS) A deal has been signed to end Joseph Kabila’s 15-year rule in Congo, but the President himself has yet to add his signature, the media reported on Sunday.

Under the deal, Kabila will lead a transitional government until elections and an opposition politician will serve as Prime Minister, the BBC reported.

The country was facing a crisis as dozens of people have died in protests since Kabila failed to step down earlier in December when his mandate expired.

After the electoral commission cancelled the scheduled vote, citing logistical and financial difficulties in organising them, Kabila formed a 74-member transitional government and said elections would be held in 2018.

Representatives of Kabila and his long standing rival Etienne Tshisekedi have been locked in negotiations brokered by Catholic Church leaders since December 8.

“Today, we are happy to head up a political compromise,” said Archbishop Marcel Utembi, who heads the church body which mediated the talks.

Congo has not had a smooth transfer of power between any leaders since independence from Belgium in 1960.

Kabila took over in 2001 following the assassination of his father Laurent Kabila.