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Kabila May Seek Future Presidency After 18-Year Congo Rule

outgoing Democratic Republic of Congo President Joseph Kabila signaled he’ll remain active in politics and would consider running for office when he’s eligible again in 2023.

The 47-year-old leader actually stepped down after ruling the cobalt- and copper-rich central African nation for almost 18 years. He’s chosen Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary to succeed him in the last Dec. 23 votes that marked the first democratic transfer of power in Congo since it gained independence from Belgium in 1960.

Kabila’s anointment of Shadary, a loyal former interior minister who lacks a nationwide support base, prompted speculation he’ll attempt to rule Congo from behind the scenes. The selection has drawn comparisons with Russian President Vladimir Putin’s promotion of Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev as his protege in 2007.

“My intention is to be available to my country whenever my country will need me,” Kabila said in an interview Monday at his ranch outside the capital, Kinshasa. “Building this country is a work in progress and 80 million Congolese have to do that work. I believe I am one of those who will also have to do that work of reconstructing this country” he reiterated.

The European Union in the month of November 2018 extended sanctions against 14 Congolese officials, including Shadary, for alleged human rights violations and obstructing the electoral process.

‘Calm Life’

Congo’s constitution prohibits Kabila from running for a third successive term, but leaves open the possibility of running again in polls set for 2023. Supportive officials have said the president may take the lead at important organizations, such as the political party he founded, which is the largest in parliament, and the ruling coalition for which Shadary is standing.

“The law does not bar me from doing that but my intention is to lead a very calm life in this beautiful country of ours,” Kabila said.

During his years in power, the economy has quintupled in size as mining output has surged, though critics say little has been done to reduce poverty or spur development in one of the world’s poorest nations.

DR Congo data200120102017
Gross Domestic Product$7.44b$21.6b$37.2b
GNI per capita$140$320$450
Human Development Index0.3330.4070.457
Transparency International CPI rankingn/a164162

Sources: World Bank, United Nations, Transparency International

The end of his tenure has been marked by increasingly fractious relations with multinational mining companies including Glencore Plc and Randgold Resources Ltd., as the state has passed legislation and renegotiated joint ventures to boost revenue from its natural resources. Following are some of the other comments he made during the interview:

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