Joseph Kabila's Term Ended Monday. He's Not Leaving

And protests in the Democratic Republic of Congo are turning deadly
By Michael Harthorne,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 20, 2016 4:38 PM CST
Congolese President Is Refusing to Leave Office
Congolese President Joseph Kabila has refused to step down after his second and final presidential term ended Monday at midnight.   (AP Photo/John Bompengo, File)

Joseph Kabila has been president of the Democratic Republic of Congo since 2001. His second—and constitutionally mandated final—term ended Monday at midnight. Only the 45-year-old Kabila refused to step down. Here's what you need to know:

  • With Kabila refusing to relinquish power, violence is breaking out. The Guardian reports 20 people were killed as protesters clashed with security officials.
  • Oddly, Kabila's chief diplomat tells Newsweek that Kabila would be guilty of treason if he stepped down. The country failed to hold an election in November as planned, and the diplomat says the constitution requires Kabila to stay in power until a successor is elected. But the ruling party states that won't happen until April 2018 at the earliest.
  • The New York Times reports it might not be desire for power that's keeping Kabila from ceding the presidency but rather a fear he'll lose his fortune in the process. Investigators say Kabila has stolen millions in public assets through "dubious mining rights sales" and "possible money-laundering schemes."
  • In the months leading up to the end of Kabila's second term, the Washington Post did an extremely rare public opinion poll in the Democratic Republic of Congo, finding that 81% of people don't want the constitution changed to give Kabila a third term and 74% want him to step down by the end of the year.
  • The Guardian notes that the current situation isn't rare for the country. The Democratic Republic of Congo hasn't had a peaceful transfer of power since gaining independence 56 years ago and is facing what could be an especially violent period.
  • Meanwhile, the Democratic Republic of Congo's former colonial ruler—Belgium—says it will "re-examine" its relationship with the country in the wake of what some are describing as a coup by Kabila, according to the Independent.
(Read more Democratic Republic of Congo stories.)

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