DRC President Kabila to give state of the nation address

FILE PHOTO: Joseph Kabila, President of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, addresses the 69th United Nations General Assembly at the U.N. headquarters in New York, U.S. September 25, 2014. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson/File Photo

Democratic Republic of Congo President Joseph Kabila is expected to give a state of the nation address in parliament on Thursday, less than a week before candidates can begin to register in postponed presidential elections.

The president is yet to say whether or not he intends to register, and candidates must declare their bid between July 25 and August 1.

“The National Assembly and the senate will both convene for the speech,” a joint statement from the two chambers said Wednesday.

“The agenda has only one item, the President of the Republic’s speech on the state of the nation.”

This address coming in the backdrop of the postponement of the UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres visit to the country to allow Kabila to announce “important decisions.”

The vast African country is in the grip of a crisis over whether Kabila will run in crucial, long-delayed elections in December despite his constitutional limit expiring in 2016.

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 supposed 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 December 23, 2018.