In November 2016, millions of Congolese people are expecting to head to the polls to vote in presidential elections that will have global repercussions. But standing in the way is current president and strongman Joseph Kabila, who is accused of trying to cling to power.

Recent reports of the situation in the DRC suggest that elections could be delayed by up to four years. In January 2015, the Congolese people took to the streets to demand that Kabila respect democracy and the constitution by stepping down next year.

The people's message is clear: they want to take control of their own destiny for the first time in more than a century.

The DRC has 24 trillion dollars of untapped mineral resources vital to global industries, that's more than the GDP of the UK and US combined. It contains the world's second-largest rainforest teeming with life, an estimated population of 79 million people and the potential to power much of Africa. The outcome of the election will reverberate throughout the world.

All of this will be at stake should Congo not experience its first peaceful transition of power. But most importantly, the status quo would deny Congolese people their right to democracy and the prospect of a return to the past. Six million people have died in the DRC in the deadliest conflict since the Second World War.

The world stayed silent as unimaginable horrors were committed against its people as Western and regional powers and corporations plundered its mineral wealth.

In 2016, there will be a window of opportunity to support the Congo, a country inextricably intertwined with the global community. So, what will the world decide to do?


Battle for control of the DRC

Check out our Flipboard magazine - Who's who in the battle for DRC by IBTimes UK

In this series on the Democratic Republic of the Congo, IBTimes UK takes a closer look at the eastern regions of South and North Kivu where civilians are still at the mercy of armed groups and the Congolese armed forces, who have all been accused of committing serious war crimes.


Joseph Kabila
Joseph Kabila (standing) has been accused of trying to extend his rule into a third term in breach of the DRC's constitutionGetty