DRC ConCourt: President's mandate can be extended if no vote

Kinshasa - DRC President Joseph Kabila, who is constitutionally barred from running for a new term, can remain in office even if no election takes place before his mandate expires at the end of 2016, the Constitutional Court said on Tuesday.

The ruling was handed down on the request of the ruling party amid increasing international and domestic concern over the government's failure to set a date for the next elections, originally due to have been held in November before Kabila's mandate ends.

Kabila, who took over Democratic Republic of Congo on his father's assassination in 2001, is constitutionally barred from running for a third term. He won successive elections in 2006 and 2011.

Wednesday's ruling followed a request for clarification over Kabila's fate should the polls fail to be held on schedule before the end of his term, as is widely expected.

The court based its response on article 70 of the constitution stating that a president remains in office until the next head of state steps in.

The opposition on the other hand argued in favour of article 75 under which the president of the senate steps into the head of state's shoes when his term ends, pending new elections.

Kabila has been under pressure from the international community to stick to the election schedule, while the opposition suspects he is planning to amend the constitution to extend his rule.

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