Kinshasa — INDICATIONS of the resignation of President Joseph Kabila must be followed by the release of human rights and opposition activists, media freedom and repealing of repressive laws in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
This is according to human rights groups after an announcement the strongman, in power for over 17 years, will not run for a third term when the troubled Central African country holds elections before the end of this year.
Polls are set for December 23, two years after Kabila failed to hold elections to choose the next president at the expiry of his term.
Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary, the former Minister of Interior, reportedly has Kabila's backing to represent the ruling People's Party for Reconstruction and Democracy in the watershed election.
Amnesty International's Researcher for the DRC, Jean-Mobert Senga, said the announcement that Kabila would not run for a third term would be welcome news to many Congolese but more needs to be done.
Senga called for the formal lifting of the ban on demonstrations.
"Government must also pledge not to suppress peaceful demonstrations and opposition and civil society meetings," Senga said.
"They must also take concrete steps to hold to account suspected perpetrators of human rights violations, including senior officers in the military, the police and the intelligence agencies."
Moussa Faki Mahamat, Chairman of the African Union Commission, welcomed the step taken by Kabila.
"In doing so, President Kabila has made a gesture of high political value in the best interests of his country," Mahamat said.
Kabila assumed power after the assassination of his father, Laurent.
Tensions have gripped DRC since 2016 when he stayed on at the expiry of his second term.