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Delaying Democracy in the Democratic Republic of Congo

Nov 23, 2016 | 09:00 GMT
Congolese police launch flares during a demonstration in Goma on Sept. 19. The postponement of the country's presidential election has sparked protests and prompted harsh security crackdowns in many cities, including Kinshasa.
Congolese police launch flares during a demonstration in Goma on Sept. 19. The postponement of the country's presidential election has sparked protests and prompted harsh security crackdowns in many cities, including Kinshasa.
(MUSTAFA MULOPWE/AFP/Getty Images)

Over the past few years, abolishing constitutional term limits has become a popular tactic among African leaders hoping to stay in office. But Joseph Kabila, the president of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, has proved an exception -- at least so far. Having held power since the 2001 assassination of his father, Laurent Kabila, the president has reached the maximum number of terms allowed by Congolese law. Faced with the prospect of being forced to relinquish his post, Kabila has chosen to postpone the next presidential election on the pretext of addressing problems with voter registration and funding. On Oct. 17, the country's constitutional court approved a petition to delay the vote, originally slated for November, to April 2018. The measure builds on an earlier ruling that the president could stay in office until the election takes place. With nearly a year and a half tacked onto his term, it...

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