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Botswana’s new leader urges Joseph Kabila not to stand for re-election in Congo

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Botswana’s new leader has urged President Joseph Kabila not to stand for re-election in Congo’s long delayed presidential poll, saying he had already been in power longer than expected.

Botswana, one of Africa’s most stable democracies, is so far the only country in Africa to have directly criticised Kabila.

Earlier this year, the government issued a statement openly blaming the president for Democratic Republic of Congo’s deteriorating humanitarian and security situation.

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“The president of the DRC has stayed in power longer than the time that was expected,” President Mokgweetsi Masisi, who took office this month, said during a interview with London’s International Institute for Strategic Studies streamed on its website on Thursday.

“Hopefully we can get from (Kabila) a real commitment to not attempt to come back to power by whatever means.”

Kabila’s opponents suspect him of seeking a referendum to change Congo’s constitution to enable him to run for more than two terms, as the leaders of neighboring Uganda, Rwanda and Congo Republic have.

He has neither confirmed nor denied this, but his refusal to step down at the end of his mandate in December 2016 triggered widespread street protests. It also emboldened several armed groups, raising fears the country is sliding back into turmoil.

The election, now scheduled for Dec. 23, has been repeatedly delayed.

DR Congo emerged from a five-year war in 2003 during which millions were killed, mostly from hunger and disease, and militias and foreign armies exploited the country’s fabulous mineral wealth.

“The DRC is potentially the richest country in Africa and arguable one of the richest in the world,” said Masisi. “The world has failed the DRC.”

Other African countries have been more cautious, encouraging progress towards elections but avoiding direct criticism of Kabila.

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24 Hours Across Africa

Abiy Ahmed wins the 2019 Nobel Peace Award

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Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed won the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize for immersly efforts to end two decades of hostility with longtime enemy Eritrea.

Though Africa’s youngest leader still faces big challenges, he has in under two years in power begun political and economic reforms that promise a better life for many in impoverished Ethiopia and restored ties with Eritrea that had been frozen since a 1998-2000 border war.

“We are proud as a nation,” the prime minister’s office said in a statement, hailing a “collective win for all Ethiopians, and a call to strengthen our resolve in making Ethiopia – the new horizon of hope – a prosperous nation for all.”

It said the prize was meant to recognize “all the stakeholders working for peace and reconciliation in Ethiopia and in the East and Northeast African regions.”

The Nobel Committee’s decision appeared designed to encourage the peace process, echoing the 1994 peace prize shared by Israeli and Palestinian leaders and the 1993 award for moves towards reconciliation in South Africa, said Dan Smith, head of the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute.

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