For six months, tensions have run high in the Democratic Republic of Congo as President Joseph Kabila’s final term nears its end. Elections have been pushed back to April 2018, which means Kabila will remain in power well beyond his two-term limit (which is reached in December). The opposition has warned that if Kabila does not step down on December 19, the country is at risk of slipping back into a new civil war. With weeks to go before that deadline is upon them, the Congolese are holding their collective breath. There is nothing surprising about the situation. What is surprising is how little the international community and opposition parties have done in the years since the previous elections to anticipate and mediate a solution. In power since 2001, Kabila was first appointed president by parliament to take the reins in a time of crisis, following the murder of his father, Laurent-Désiré Kabila, the leader of the rebellion that ousted Mobutu Sese Seko in 1997. During his first ...

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