DR Congo: Timeline of deadly crisis as poll delayed to 2019

Hopes the Democratic Republic of Congo could end months of crisis and reach a deal on holding presidential elections have faded after the poll was delayed to at least early 2019.

President Joseph Kabila’s second and final mandate ended December 20 last year with no sign of him stepping down.

Elections were due to be held this year under a deal aimed at avoiding fresh political bloodshed but after repeated delays the Independent National Electoral Commission announced Wednesday it will take until 2019 to prepare a vote.

Following is a timeline of the crisis in the vast African country of 70 million people:

– 2015 –

On January 17, parliament adopts a bill that would enable Kabila, who has been in power for 14 years, to extend his term beyond 2016.

January clashes between police and anti-Kabila demonstrators erupt in Kinshasa and several other towns. They turn into riots and looting and leave dozens dead.

Belgium-based opposition leader Etienne Tshisekedi calls on citizens to force a “dying regime” from power.

December sees UN concerns over a government crackdown on opponents, including “arbitrary arrests and detentions”.

– 2016 –

On May 11, the Constitutional Court says Kabila can remain in office when his mandate expires, even without being re-elected.-

In July, veteran opposition leader Tshisekedi returns to Kinshasa to demand an election by year’s end and Kabila’s departure. But September demonstrations turn violent and several dozen people are killed.

On October 17, the parliamentary majority and an opposition fringe minority sign an accord pushing the election back to April 2018 and keeping Kabila in place until his predecessor takes over.

New clashes in Kinshasa and other cities erupt on the last day of Kabila’s mandate, December 20, leaving at least 40 people dead, according to the UN.

– 2017 –

Tshisekedi returns to Brussels for medical treatment in January and dies there on February 1.

In June, Catholic bishops urge citizens to demand an election by year’s end. But on July 7, the electoral commission says that won’t be possible, prompting fresh protests.

Late September 2017 sees a UN demand for an electoral calendar to be published as soon as possible.

On October 11, the electoral commission says it needs at least 504 days to organise the vote once a census is completed, pushing the poll into 2019.

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