Congo deal reached for Kabila to step down after 2017 elections
31/12/2016 11:01, Kinshasa /Congo

(TAP) -Congolese President Joseph Kabila will step down after elections to be held by the end of 2017 under a last-minute deal struck by political parties on Friday, the lead mediator of the talks said.

Negotiators spent weeks in tense talks seeking to ensure Democratic Republic of Congo’s first peaceful transfer of power since independence in 1960. But it remains unclear if elections can be organized by the end of next year, or if leading politicians, including Kabila, will keep to the terms.

"The government is asked to take all steps so that the elections are organized by the end of 2017 at the latest," said Marcel Utembi, president of Congo's Catholic Bishops' Conference, which has mediated the talks.

Under the deal, which is expected to be formally signed on Saturday, Kabila will be unable to change the constitution to allow him to stay in power for a third term.

Kabila's mandate ran out on Dec. 19, but authorities have effectively extended it until 2018 because the government said it could not arrange elections before then.

The parties agreed that Kabila will appoint a prime minister from the country's main opposition bloc to oversee the transition, a major sticking point in the final stages of the talks.

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