Opposition leader Moise Katumbi has claimed the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)'s current president has a "three year plan" to illegally remain in power and has urged the Congolese people to ensure President Joseph Kabila "leaves through the front door". The opposition figures's comments come as the country heads into fresh turbulence.
The Congolese people are expecting presidential elections in November 2016, but a number of signs appear to suggest that the current president is seeking to hold on to power beyond his mandate.
Under the constitution, Kabila is required to step down at the end of his second term in office – after winning 2006 and 2011 elections.
Constitutionally, the electoral body (CENI) must call for elections on 20 September, and by 20 December, a new president must be sworn in office.
In June, the Catholic Church piled pressure on Kabila to "respect the constitution" by stepping down from power when his mandate expires and warned that if he does not, he risks triggering a tumultuous period in a country which has already witnessed political crackdown and bloodshed.
Kabila: 'Elections only when a voters' register is available'
During his a one-day visit to Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni on 4 August, Kabila, who is not eligible to stand in the next elections, spoke for the first time about the issue of elections following claims he wants to stay beyond his tenure.
He told media the election timetable would not be published before the end of the voters' register process that began on 31 July 2016, and the nation would only hold elections when voter rolls are available.
"We have organised elections on two occasions. Elections are organised by an independent Electoral Commission. In order for them to be organised, we need a voters register and registration," he told media. "We have started voter registration. It will take time but as soon as the voters register is available, we shall have an election."
The CENI previously announced revised dates and budgets for the upcoming elections. In February, the body said it needs more than a year to update voter rolls and the government stated it was missing the $2m (£1.3m) budget outlined by CENI to fund the presidential ballot.
On Tuesday (9 August), Katumbi said Kabila's statement "illustrates, if some still doubted it, the president and his presidential majority's will (...) to stay in power at all costs in spite of our Constitution and against the aspiration of people to live the first democratic and peaceful alternation in 2016".
Kabila 'plan a crime of high treason'
In his statement, Katumbi alleged the regime has a three-year "plan of action".
The "plan" reportedly includes organising a political dialogue leading to an "illegitimate" transitional government "serving their totalitarian ambitions", announcing local and provincial elections first to "best delay the presidential elections" and "ensure a comfortable majority in the local institutions, provincial assemblies and in Parliament and in the National Assembly", and "vote for an amendment of the Constitution by the two chambers (Parliament and National Assembly) that will allow them to stay in power.
Describing the alleged plan as "a crime of high treason", Katumbi stated the Congolese people and the supporting forces for change "will not easily be fooled and betrayed".
According to the presidential candidate, Kabila "will have to leave through the front door" because the people and the international community "will have to refuse the installation of the dictatorship".