The Democratic Republic of Congo has been mired in a political crisis for years, which deepened when Joseph Kabila clung to power after his final term ended.
Here is a timeline:
In January 2001, Kabila, 29, becomes leader of the sprawling Central African country after his father Laurent-Desire is assassinated by a bodyguard.
In 2006, Kabila is declared winner at the first free presidential election for 41 years, standing against ex-rebel Jean-Pierre Bemba - the poll is tainted by outbreaks of violence.
In March 2007, clashes in Kinshasa with heavy weaponry between troops loyal to Bemba and the army leave 300 dead. Bemba's men are defeated and he leaves the country.
In 2011, Kabila is re-elected in a one-round presidential election marked by chaotic organisation, violence and alleged irregularities.
In January 2015 demonstrations break out in Kinshasa against a bill that would delay the next presidential elections, due in 2016, enabling Kabila to stay in power beyond the end of his second and last constitutional term.
Dozens of people are killed in clashes with security forces.
In September 2016, several dozen people are killed in anti-Kabila protests. Public buildings and majority party headquarters are looted and torched.
On December 20 2016, meant to be the last day of Kabila's mandate but with no election planned or sign of him stepping down, there are more protests in Kinshasa and several other towns. The UN says at least 40 are killed.
On New Year's Eve 2016, opposition parties and the government reach agreement that elections will by held at the end of 2017 and Kabila can stay in power until then under a transition deal.
But the elections are postponed again, purportedly because of the problems of organising them in time.
In November 2017 the Electoral Commission announces a presidential election for December 23, 2018. Under the plan Kabila will remain in place to January 2019.
The opposition demands he leave at the end of 2017. More demonstrations from December 2017 to February 2018 result in several further deaths. The UN and Western countries denounce the crackdown.
As the August 8 deadline looms for filing election bids, Bemba - freshly acquitted of war-crimes convictions in The Hague - returns home to declare his challenge.
But fellow opposition leader Moise Katumbi is refused entry from Zambia as he tries to return. He faces possible arrest after being handed a three-year jail term in absentia in June 2016 in a case of alleged property fraud, charges he denies.
Just hours before the filing deadline, Kabila ends months of speculation.
Instead of planning to run again, as some critics had suspected, he names a loyalist, Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary, to be his successor for the December 23 race.
Ramazani Shadari, 57, served as interior minister during the crackdown on protests. He also is a co-founding member of Kabila's party, the People's Party for Reconstruction (PPRD).
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