Even as President Kabila’s second term expired at midnight, the 45-year- old president – who has been in power since 2001 – has not vacated his post. The country failed to hold elections originally scheduled for November. Opposition parties and civil society activists have been protesting for months about the delays, demanding the Kabila leaves office. Whilst tensions are high in the Congo, there have not yet been violent protests on the scale seen in September where security forces killed 50 people.

The president’s chief diplomat, Barnabé Kikaya Bin Karubi, has said that Kabila is duty-bound to stay in post until fresh elections are organized. Article 70 of the constitution states that the president must stay in office “until the president-elect effectively assumes his functions,” though analysts point out that article 75 allows for the president of the Senate to take over presidential duties in the case of a death or resignation of the incumbent. Congo’s electoral commission has indicated that the country, which has a population of 77 million, will not be ready for elections until April 2018 at the earliest.

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