Several universities in the Democratic Republic of Congo on Saturday signed a petition against President Joseph Kabila running for a third term in office later this year.

University professors and staff signed the document calling Kabila’s candidacy in the December polls “an unacceptable offence of high treason against the nation and the state” following months of heavily repressed protests calling for the long-time leader to stand aside.

“It’s about trying to stop the constitution being tampered with in our country,” said Georges Kapiamba, president of the Congolese Association for Access to Justice and one of the petition’s organisers.

Kabila, who took over from his assassinated father in 2001, presides over a country with a history of corruption, poor governance and armed conflict.


He was obligated to step down at the end of 2016 after he reached his two-term limit, but a constitutional clause allowed him to remain in office until his successor is elected.

Elections that should have been held that year were rescheduled for 2017, and postponed again to 2018.

He is yet to state whether or not he intends to stay on.

Candidates for the December 23 presidential election must declare their bid between July 25 and August 1.

“We hope that president Kabila will say clearly that he will not run in the presidential election, wish good luck to his successor and reassure us that he will guarantee the proper organisation of the vote,” said Alphonse-Daniel Ntumba Luaba, a law professor and a former justice minister in the vast, mineral-rich state.

At the end of 2017 and early this year, anti-Kabila demonstrations organised by Roman Catholics led to a violent crackdown by security forces, with a total of at least 15 dead reported around the country

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