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Macron welcomes Kabila’s decision to stand down from December poll
French President Emmanuel Macron on Thursday welcomed the decision of his Congolese counterpart, Joseph Kabila, not to run for re-election in his country’s upcoming presidential poll.
In a statement, the Elysée said Kabila’s announcement ensured “the unity and integrity of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)”. The presidential statement added that Paris was ready “to help Congolese authorities organise free, transparent and inclusive elections on 23 December”.
Kabila, 47, ended months of speculation on Wednesday when he announced he would not seek a third term. He has named Interior Minister Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary as his successor in the poll.
Kabila loyalist Shadary was among a group of Congolese officials sanctioned by the European Union in 2017 for violations of human rights. The EU claimed that, as former security minister and head of police, he was "responsible" for the unlawful arrests of "activists and opposition members", and the police's "disproportionate use of force".
Kabila, who has ruled over the war-torn country for 17 years, should have stepped down at the end of 2016 when he reached a two-term limit.
But he stayed on thanks to a constitutional clause enabling the president to remain in office until an election is held, sparking protests that were bloodily repressed and condemnation from the United States and the European Union.
Some 20 candidates, including two former prime ministers -- Adolphe Muzito and Samy Badibanga -- have submitted their names to the electoral commission.
The candidates also include Jean-Pierre Bemba, 55, a former warlord recently acquitted by the International Criminal Court of war crimes and crimes against humanity.
A country of some 80 million people, the DRC has never known a peaceful government transition since it gained independence from Belgium in 1960.