Congolese President Joseph Kabila is challenged again by the opposition to step down. File picture: Reuters

Johannesburg - Felix Tshisekedi, the leader of the Democratic Republic of Congo’s (DRC) largest opposition party, has said they agree to a further delay of elections until June 2018 on the condition that incumbent President Joseph Kabila steps down at the end of this year and a new transition government is installed, AP reported on Wednesday.

Tshisekedi added that his opposition coalition, known as Rassemblement, refuses to engage in any further discussion over the matter – unless this dialogue involves Kabila’s exit.

The DRC has been wracked by political unrest and violent upheaval over Kabila’s refusal to cede office.

The lead-up to the end of his constitutionally mandated two-term limit on December 19 last year saw much bloodshed and brutal political repression.

A Catholic church-mediated agreement signed at the end of 2016 included a clear commitment that presidential elections would be held before the end of 2017 and that Kabila would not seek a third term. 

But Kabila has continually stalled on this issue and the continuing violence led Congo’s election commission to postpone elections until 2019.

Ruling party spokesperson Andre-Alain Atundu said that only this commission could determine when the next elections are held.

In the latest violence the United Nations Joint Office for Human Rights said four people had been killed and 15 others injured amid clashes between security forces and protesters in eastern Congo.

The office said Tuesday that the UN mission in Congo had deployed a team to Goma, the capital of North Kivu province, to monitor the situation and investigate. It also said security forces arrested at least 37 people.

The UN also warned last week that millions of people faced starvation in the restive Kasai province.

In August the international body reported that people displaced by the continuing conflict in the country had nearly doubled in the preceding six months to 3.8 million.

Over five million people alone died in the second Congo war from 1998 to 2003, mostly from starvation and disease.