Voice of America (Washington, DC)

Congo-Kinshasa: Information Minister - Kabila Not Urged to Avoid Third Term

An official of the Democratic Republic of Congo said, while US Secretary of State John Kerry urged the Congolese government to respect the country's constitution, he did not tell President Joseph Kabila not to seek a third term.

VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reported that Kerry urged Kabila not to seek a third term.

But Information Minister Lambert Mende said there is no way Kerry could have made such a remark because Kabila has not indicated whether he will stand in the 2016 elections.

"First of all, I will say that Secretary of State Kerry told us a lot of things. We are very happy with what he told us, and we agree with the fact that a government must respect the state constitution. It is our constitution; it is the will of our people. So, we must respect it and we have no problem with that advice," he said.

Mende reiterated that Kerry did not urge Kabila not to seek re-election.

"I am not going to land in this propaganda rhetoric of saying Kabila will run or Kabila won't run. But, Secretary of State Kerry didn't tell anybody about individuals. And, he could not have told us because nobody has announced that he's running for election scheduled for 2016. We are in 2014, so that case is not on the agenda," Mede said.

He said Kerry offered US assistance in many areas, including disarming Congo's several armed groups.

"He offered many possibilities of assistance in stabilizing the situation. That is disarming the armed groups, and we came to a total agreement with him that we can't leave any chance to those criminal elements to go ahead with their action. They must be stopped. And President Kabila told him what is the agenda about that," Mende said.

Mende said the Congolese was very pleased with Kerry's offer of $30 million to support "transparent and credible" elections, and also economic development.

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay reportedly criticized the Congolese government for not doing enough to bring to justice those responsible for sexual violence, including rape.

Mende said the government has put in place programs to deal with those who accused of committing war crimes.

"She is very much aware of the endeavors that are going on in this country to punish anybody who is responsible for war crimes and for any other human rights abuses. That is why we have refused to grant amnesty to those responsible for such crimes, he said.

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