Democratic Republic of Congo’s election commission has set Nov. 27, 2016, for presidential and legislative elections, an election official said on Thursday, satisfying a key demand of the political opposition and international donors. President Joseph Kabila, who has held power since his father’s assassination in 2001 and won disputed elections in 2006 and 2011, is constitutionally barred from standing for a third term. But critics say he intends to cling to power beyond the end of his mandate next year. Kabila has refused to comment on his future, saying it is a distraction from his political agenda. A government spokesman has said that the president intends to respect the constitution.
Congo has not experienced a peaceful transition of power since independence in 1960. Protests erupted last month, killing at least 42 people and forcing lawmakers to drop an electoral reform bill that the opposition said was aimed at keeping Kabila in power.
Presidential and legislative elections will be held on Nov. 27, 2016, according to an election calendar presented to government and diplomatic officials in Kinshasa by Independent National Electoral Commission (CENI) official Jean-Pierre Kalamba. The new president is scheduled to be sworn in on Dec. 20, 2016.
The election commission also announced the dates for a slew of other local and provincial elections set to take place in 2015 and 2016.