GOMA, Congo (AP) — The U.S. ambassador to the United Nations has called on Congo’s president to organize long-delayed elections in the vast Central African nation and step down peacefully.
Nikki Haley, who arrived in Congo on Thursday and is expected to repeat that message in a meeting with President Joseph Kabila, made the comment to Radio France International earlier this week on her three-nation Africa visit.
Haley is also expected to meet with Congo’s election commission Friday before returning to the U.S.
“We believe that President Joseph Kabila will follow the right voice in organizing elections to ensure his respect, and that he has the respect of the Congolese people,” she told RFI.
Local opposition supporters took advantage of Haley’s first stop in Congo’s North Kivu province, staging demonstrations against Kabila, who has been in power since 2001. Anger is growing at the delay in holding elections, which were meant to take place late last year to replace Kabila.
Last month, the head of Congo’s election commission said the presidential vote cannot take place until 2019 despite a deal with the opposition that it would occur this year. He cited deadly violence in central Congo’s Kasai region for the delay.
Haley is in Africa to see U.S. and United Nations involvement in Ethiopia, South Sudan and Congo. The Trump administration has sought to reduce inefficiencies, corruption and abuse in the U.N.’s far-flung peacekeeping operations.