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View on Africa: Will Joseph Kabila stand for a third term in 2016?
Date: 19 August 2015
Time: 11h00 - 12h00
Venue: ISS Pretoria situation room (map) or, online: VoiceBoxer

Pour la version française, cliquez ici

The issue

For the past two years, two questions have dominated the Congolese political scene: Will President Joseph Kabila attempt to stay in power beyond his two mandates and, if so, how will he do it?

Current speculation is that presidential elections, scheduled for late-2016, will deliberately be delayed. But civil society, the political opposition and international donors have strongly voiced their opposition to any postponements, and a political showdown looms.

Stephanie Wolters, head of the Conflict Prevention and Risk Analysis division, presented this week’s View on Africa. She discussed possible scenarios in the run-up to elections and examined what it means for the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s stability if Kabila devises a way to stay on as president.

Key points

  • The question of whether or not Kabila will stand for a third term has monopolised the political debate in the DRC for two years already and is paralysing international donors who want to fund elections.
  • There is dissent within the ruling coalition, but it remains to be seen whether coalition partners use their leverage to demand more power from the presidency or actually decide to stand on principle and break with the ruling party and go in a new political direction.
  • At this stage, the two avenues the ruling party looks intent on using to create a default mandate extension are: a stage-managed national dialogue which could lead to some kind of transition; and creating myriad obstacles to the holding of local elections, which will, in turn, delay presidential elections.
  • Unless local elections are delayed and the Independent National Electoral Commission addresses the relevant technical aspects of the election adequately, the credibility of the 2015-2016 election cycle will be compromised. This will lead to further instability in the country.

What to watch

  • International actors such as the UN, and regional envoys from the UN, EU, and the US have made it clear that they oppose a mandate extension – whether by design or by default. The positions of the AU and SADC, as well as Angola and South Africa will be crucial going forward.
  • Human rights violations, the harassment of civil society activists and the neutralisation of critical political voices through manipulated legal processes have been on the rise in the DRC since the start of the year. These crackdowns, as well as violent repression of political gatherings, are likely to increase as the country moves closer to the polls.
  • Moise Katumbi, the former governor of Katanga province, and a viable political rival to Kabila, has been quietly leaking that he may yet declare his candidacy for the 2016 presidential election. If he does make his intentions public, this could create new political alliances, including within the ruling coalition.

About View on Africa

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Join the new ISS View on Africa weekly briefing every Wednesday from 11h00 - 12h00 CAT. ISS researchers from Dakar, Nairobi, Addis Ababa and Pretoria provide expert analysis of major events and trends in Africa. Introductory remarks are followed by discussions among participants.

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Attend the briefing in person or online via VoiceBoxer on your computer ( To join the briefing online, simply click on the link above, follow the on-screen instructions and select your language preference.

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Vues d’Afrique : Joseph Kabila va-t-il briguer un troisième mandat en 2016 ?

Cette réunion sera présentée depuis les bureaux de l’ISS à Pretoria de 11h00 à 12h00 CAT. Vous pouvez aussi nous rejoindre en ligne via Voiceboxer.

Au cours des deux précédentes années, deux questions ont dominé la scène politique congolaise : est-ce que le président Joseph Kabila briguera un troisième mandat et, si oui, comment s’y prendra-t-il ?

L’hypothèse du moment est que les élections présidentielles, prévues pour fin 2016, seront reportées délibérément. Mais la société civile, l’opposition politique et les donateurs internationaux s’étant fermement opposés à tout report, une confrontation politique est inexorable.

La réunion de cette semaine sera présentée par Stephanie Wolters, chef de la division Prévention des conflits et analyses des risques. Elle étudiera les scénarios possibles pour la course à la présidentielle et examinera les conséquences que pourraient avoir les ambitions de Kabila sur la stabilité du pays.

À propos de Vues d’Afrique

Vous voulez savoir ce qu’il se passe en Afrique, quand cela se passe et ce que cela signifie pour les nombreux acteurs du continent ?

Rejoignez-nous tous les mercredis de 11h00 à 12h00. Lors de ces réunions « Vues d’Afrique », nos chercheurs de Dakar, Nairobi, Addis Abéba et Pretoria apporteront leur expertise sur des sujets qui marquent l’actualité africaine ; ces exposés seront suivis par des discussions entre participants.

Comment suivre la réunion ?

Rendez-vous sur place ou suivez-la à distance via VoiceBoxer ( Suivez les instructions affichées à l’écran et sélectionnez votre langue.

Avant tout, testez vos paramètres système en cliquant sur ce lien :

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ISS Pretoria situation room (map) or
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