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Presidential term expiry date a flashpoint in vast DR Congo

December 19, 2016 - DR CONGO

President Joseph Kabila's second term was due to expire on this date following an election in April for a successor, which didn't happen. He has struck a deal that allows him to stay at the helm but which is likely to bring opponents onto the streets in protest.

Citing logistical problems in registering millions of voters and a lack of financing, Kabila's ruling coalition and part of the opposition agreed in October to delay a presidential vote until Apr 2018. Opponents accuse him of stalling the election to prolong his term. The constitution limits a president to two terms.

The country's prime minister, Augustin Matata Ponyo, announced his resignation, as part of the deal. A new government of national unity, which includes some opposition figures, is pending.

The opposition Rassemblement accuses the president of planning to remove term limits before the next election.

Kabila became president following the assassination of his father in 2001 and won disputed elections in 2006 and 2011. Millions of people died between 1998 and 2003 in regional conflicts, with 50 people losing their lives in street protests as recently as September. DR Congo has not seen a peaceful transition of power since it won independence from Belgium in 1960.

Democratic Republic of Congo prime minister resigns (Reuters/SABC 14 Nov 2016)

Date written/update: 2016-11-15