DR Congo’s presidential election will finally take place more than two years behind schedule

Joseph Kabila has been president since 2001.
Joseph Kabila has been president since 2001.
Image: Reuters/Kenny Katombe
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The overdue presidential election in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DR Congo) has finally been scheduled for December 2018. The election was initially scheduled for Nov. 27 2016.

For much of the past year, the country has been in political limbo after Joseph Kabila, the country’s president, refused to step down from office and has repeatedly pushed the elections back. Kabila initially took power since 2001 (after his father was assassinated) and later won democratic elections in 2006 and 2011. He’s constitutionally barred from seeking a third term.

The political standoff has seen violence break out amid riots and protests leaving tens dead. The government has also clamped down on social media to quell dissent. Amid the instability, investors in DR Congo’s lucrative cobalt industry have begun looking elsewhere.

Holding the election in 2018 represents a small victory for the opposition after the electoral commission claimed the polls could not hold until at least 2019. Amid the protests, earlier this year, DR Congo’s electoral commission claimed the resource-rich country could not afford the $1.8 billion cost of election.

Despite its vast mineral wealth, DR Congo citizens are “among the poorest on the planet,” says Global Witness, the anti-corruption charity. In a report in July, Global Witness estimated that, between 2013 and 2015, mining revenues of around $1.3 billion failed to reach the treasury. Global Witness blamed the deficit on a “dysfunctional state-owned mining company and opaque national tax agencies” and “corrupt networks linked to President Joseph Kabila’s regime.”