DR Congo vote will be key 'opportunity': US

DR Congo leader Joseph Kabila has been in power since 2001 and is believed to be eyeing a third term (AFP Photo/Carl De Souza)

Washington (AFP) - The United States on Wednesday welcomed an announcement that the Democratic Republic of Congo will hold presidential elections in November 2016, after pushing President Joseph Kabila to respect the constitution.

The key vote would be "an opportunity for the Congolese government and its people to further the democratization of the country through regular, timely elections," State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said in a statement.

Washington stood ready to help in what it said would be "the country's first peaceful transfer of power."

After months of uncertainty, the elections commission said the poll would go ahead on November 27 next year, but under certain conditions.

Deadly protests erupted in January over opposition fears that the incumbent Kabila was trying to extend his stay in power.

But Independent National Electoral Commission official Jean-Pierra Kalamba said the election depended on certain conditions, including the availability of funds to organize the polls, the updating of the electoral roll and issues surrounding parliamentary seat allocation.

Constitutionally, Kabila cannot stand in these elections after having served two terms in office, but he had tried to enact a new provision which would have allowed him to extend his time in office.

In May, top US diplomat John Kerry travelled to DR Congo to press Kabila not to modify the constitution.