US Secretary of State John Kerry has urged Democratic Republic of Congo President Joseph Kabila to respect a constitutional law which forbids him from seeking a new term in 2016 elections.
“I believe that it is clear to him (Kabila) that the United States of America feels very strongly, as do other people, that the constitutional process need to respected,” Kerry said on a visit to the country.
He announced that the US would provide funding of $30m “to support transparent and credible elections as well as recovery… programmes in eastern Congo”.
Kerry is on his first major tour of Africa, which is focusing on some of the continent’s most brutal conflicts.
A US official said on Saturday that Washington was ready to help fund the demobilisation of some 12 000 rebels active in dozens of militias in the DRC’s mineral-rich, restive east, a plan that is estimated to cost about $100m.
The DRC government has gained more control in the conflict-hit eastern areas since a national army offensive, backed by a special UN brigade, forced the powerful M23 rebel group to lay down its arms in November.
Kerry is accompanied on the trip by US special envoy to the Great Lakes region Russ Feingold, who took a leading role in brokering a peace deal with M23 rebels in hostilities which date back to 1994.
“I have no doubt that President Kabila’s legacy will be defined by the progress he has made particularly in the last year in addressing the security of the east,” said Kerry.
Kabila became Africa’s youngest leader when he was propelled into office at 29 after the death of his father in 2001 at the height of a civil war that became known as “Africa’s Great War”.
Both his presidential election victories, in 2006 and 2011, led to unrest and cries of foul play in the war-scarred nation of 68 million people.