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Top Congo court says President stays in power if election not held

Kabila took power in 2001 when his father, who was president, was assassinated, but is required by the constitution to step down in December after two five-year terms in office.

Top Congo court says Kabila stays in power if election not held

Democratic Republic of Congo's highest court ruled on Wednesday that President Joseph Kabila would stay in power beyond the end of his mandate if his government failed to hold an election due in November.

The ruling is a blow to the opposition, which had argued that an interim president should serve after the end of Kabila's mandate if the election was delayed.

In Congo's second city of Lubumbashi, police fired tear gas on Wednesday at thousands of supporters of Moise Katumbi, a leading opposition candidate to succeed Kabila and who faced a second day of questioning over government allegations of hiring mercenaries.

The government has said the election to choose Kabila's successor is likely to be delayed due to budgetary and logistical obstacles.

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"Article 70, clause two, (of the constitution) permits the president of the republic ... to remain in office until the installation of the new elected president," constitutional court president Benoit Lwamba Bindu said from the bench on Wednesday.

Opposition leaders say Kabila is trying to delay the election in order to hold on to power. He has declined to comment publicly on his intentions and called instead for a national dialogue to allow elections to take place.

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