"Congress has long focused on human rights and humanitarian hardship in war-ravaged eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, an epicenter of instability in Central Africa's Great Lakes region. Recently, congressional attention has turned to DRC's democratic trajectory and dynamics in the capital, Kinshasa. President Joseph Kabila's effort to stay in office-which opposition and civil society activists view as unconstitutional-has spurred unrest and could become a violent crisis. In October, the DRC government and regional leaders backed an agreement extending the deadline for elections from November 2016 to April 2018. Top opposition and civil society leaders boycotted the talks that produced the agreement, however, and some have called for mass protests on December 19-when Kabila's second elected term nominally ends. Since 2015, the security forces have violently suppressed protests, arrested youth activists, blocked independent media, and expelled international researchers. Several religious leaders have reportedly been killed after criticizing the government. Protesters have also been implicated in violence against police. The State Department has criticized threats to political rights and called for a more inclusive agreement involving elections in 2017 and a commitment from Kabila not to seek another term or amend the constitution."
CRS Insight, IN10622
Federation of American Scientists: http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/index.html