In Stratfor's Fourth Quarter Forecast, we predicted that the Democratic Republic of Congo was unlikely to hold planned elections in 2017. But the possible postponement of elections until 2019 is a more significant delay than expected. How President Kabila bides his remaining time in office will be key to watch.
Confusion over the Democratic Republic of Congo's electoral calendar persists. According to a Reuters report, on Oct. 10, the Congolese electoral committee announced that it may delay the presidential elections until 2019. In the statement, the commission said that a credible election would require an additional year and a half after voter registration had ended in regions around the country.
The alleged timetable seemingly contradicts statements made earlier this month by the president of the electoral committee, Corneille Nangaa. According to Jeune Afrique, a French language media outlet, Nangaa laid out three potential scenarios: holding only the presidential election in December 2017; holding the presidential and legislative elections in May 2018; or holding the presidential, legislative and provincial elections in Nov. 2018.
The electoral committee's latest projection has only sowed more confusion over when President Joseph Kabila — who took office in 2001 after the assassination of his father, President Laurent Kabila — will relinquish power. Kabila likely wants a safe exit from office but is struggling to engineer a path that will protect his interests. Kabila has spent his years in office perfecting a system of neutralizing any and all potential threats to his rule. However, his efforts to modify the limits on seeking re-election have stalled, and he has been unable to find a figure capable enough to take over his shaky political alliance and to protect his vast economic gains.