Democratic Republic of Congo’s Presidential Election in 2016

On the 27th of November 2016 a Presidential election held in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is scheduled.

About the current DRC Government

The current President Joseph Kabila is also the head of the ruling coalition in the National Assembly, made up of numerous parties. The opposition being every other party/individual who is not part of that coalition.

Out of 500 National Assembly Seats, Kabila’s “People’s Party for Reconstruction and Democracy”(PPRD) hold 111, the “Movement for the Liberation of Congo” (MLC) are second with 64 seats, and the Government is formed from a large Coalition.

Out of 108 seats in the Senate, Kabila’s PPRD hold the largest number of seats for one party (22). In second is MLC with 14 seats. All other seats taken are of parties/individuals holding 7 seats or less.

Electoral System

The DRC is a Republic style government with two branches:

  • The Lower House – Known as the National Assembly made up of 500 seats.
  • The Upper House – Known as the Senate made up of 108 seats.

Members of the National Assembly are elected in a mix of Proportional and Plural systems, 439 in an Open List Proportional system, 61 in a Plural one. Members elected in the National Assembly serve 5 year terms.

All Senators are elected on an Open List Proportional system. There has not been a Senate election since 2007.

The President is elected in a Plurality system where they win by getting more votes than any other competitor. However, they must also achieve above 50% of the vote; in 2006 the Presidential election had two stages because neither top candidate achieved more than that threshold. According to the DRC Constitution, an individual can only be elected as President twice before they must step down.

A Prime Minister is chosen by the President, usually from the majority party/coalition.

Suffrage is for 18+ year olds, and is universal.

Main issues in contention

The main issue of contention for this election is that some claim President Kabila is showing signs that he does not want to step down after his last constitutional term is up. Considering the country’s recent history of civil war, the scars of which have not healed totally, a breach of the DRC Constitution could relight tensions into open conflict. Advocates of this argument use the evidence that Kabila was given an open letter asking him to obey the constitution, signatories of which were then expelled from government. Also, in November 2015, the government announced the election could be postponed for “up to four years”.

However, the UK’s Special Envoy to that region has said that the election in November is still possible. This does not necessarily mean he will or will not release power.

At this stage then it is not clear who, if any, would be running against Kabila in the election, whenever it happens.

Election briefing written by David Murray.

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