The provincial assemblies of the vast unstable central African country elect the members of the 108-seat Senate of the bicameral legislature, a vote regarded as the formal kick-off for the presidential and legislative election in Nov 2016. The Senate vote, delayed several times, was last held in 2007.
The election of governors and vice-governors will be held on Jan 31, 2016. Extreme instability is predicted if President Joseph Kabila and the ruling party find ways to postpone or suspend any of the 2016 polls, which include local elections in October. A new law holds open the possibility that at least the Senate vote will be held this time around as it scraps the prerequisite for a national census. Violent protests led to the scrapping of the law. The opposition to the ruling People's Party for Reconstruction and Democracy (PPRD) asserted that the census requirement was a delaying tactic by President Kabila. Protests early in 2015 led to the government announcing an election timetable for 2016. The constitution says that Kabila, who has ruled the former Belgian colony since his father's assassination in 2001 and who then won disputed elections in 2006 and 2011, must quit at the end of 2016. He is expected to find ways to extend his term at the head of the former Belgian colony. Opposition figures and outside observers see the very tight timetable as unrealistically costly and anticipate that the government might use budget constraints as an excuse for suspending or postponing some or all of the 2016 polls.