AFRICA/DR CONGO - Still no date for Presidential elections: will this mean a presidential vacancy?

Wednesday, 2 March 2016 elections  

Kinshasa (Agenzia Fides) - There may soon be a presidential vacancy in the Democratic Republic of Congo unless elections are held before the end of November. This is the scenario after Corneille Nangaa chairman of the national independent electoral commission (CENI), said recently that revision of the electoral lists could take as long as 16 months, prefiguring a postponement of presidential and legislative elections scheduled within the month of November 2016 as established by the Constitution .
“The Opposition says that since Joseph Kabila entered his second and final presidential mandate on 20 December 2011, he will cease to be President of the Republic on 19 December2016” Fides reads in a report from Peace for Congo Network. “The Opposition affirms that if the electoral Commission fails to organise presidential elections within the date established by the Constitution, that is before the end of November 2016, on 20 December 2016 it will be forced to acknowledge a void of power in the State leadership”.
In the event of a presidential vacancy, as sanctioned by articles 75 and 76 of the Constitution, the duties of the President of the Republic are temporarily exercised by the President of the Senate.
However according to the Peoples Front, a political platform of parties and movements supporters of historic opposition member Etienne Tshisekedi, since the Senate was elected in 2006 for a 5 year mandate, without being re-elected in 2011 because elections were not held, it would no longer be in a situation of legitimacy. It would follow that the President of the Senate could not assume the duties of Head of State ad interim.
In this case a President ad interim could be found and designated among the candidates for the presidency who, in 2011, obtained the highest number of votes , according to results made public by CENI and at that time ratified by the Supreme Court of Justice.
“This would settle the famous electoral dispute of 2011, CENI would have more time at its disposal to organise the next presidential elections, which could be set for late March or, at the latest, the end of April 2017, democratic alternation at the presidency of the republic would be guaranteed and the political climate would brighten” the report affirms.
The fear of the Opposition is that with a postponement of the election, President Kabila may attempt to prolong his mandate despite the fact that the Constitution does not allow the position of Head of State to be occupied by the same person for more than two mandates. (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides 2/3/2016)