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Changing the Political Calculus

By Joseph Siegle

October 12, 2016

African leaders have tried many different ways to evade term limits in recent years. The tack taken by Joseph Kabila is particularly straightforward—and brazen. He is simply avoiding holding elections for his successor altogether.

Joseph Kabila

Photo: GCIS.

African leaders have tried many different ways to evade term limits in recent years. Usually these take a form of reinterpreting when an incumbent’s first term started. Or they orchestrate a referendum or constitutional amendment bypassing the term limit restriction. The tack taken by the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s Joseph Kabila is particularly straightforward—and brazen. He is simply avoiding holding elections for his successor altogether.

Having already been in power for more than 10 years and nearing the completion of his second and final term in December, Kabila has set in motion a series of actions that are preventing the National Independent Electoral Commission from holding presidential elections in November as planned. On its current trajectory, this means presidential elections wouldn’t be held until 2018 at the earliest. His intent is to continue his hold on power in the interim. Meanwhile, loyalists are busily working to lift the two-term limit in total. The Africa Center’s Joseph Siegle looks at the political calculus driving the succession crisis in the DRC for the Cipher Brief.

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