IBTimes UK spoke with Phil Clark, reader in international politics at Soas University, London, on the state of human rights in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) as the country prepares to hold presidential elections in 2016.

Millions of people have been killed during conflicts in DRC since 1996 with the eruption of the First Congo war, which ended in 1998, and the Second Congo war – also known as the Great War of Africa – which broke out in 1998 and officially terminated in 2003.

However, hostilities and frequent attacks on civilians, especially in the north-east, have continued ever since and there are at least 50 different armed groups currently operating along DRC's eastern and western borders.

The 2016 election could represent the first democratic transition of power after decades of war, political instability and human rights abuses committed by militant and government troops. However, incumbent president Joseph Kabila has been accused of trying to amend the constitution to hold on to power.

Kabila is bound by the constitution to step down as he has served two consecutive terms since 2001. The leader has not made a public statement on his future political career, but his spokesperson has always maintained the president respects the constitution.

Kabila also said the election should be postponed, arguing that the country was not ready and more time was needed to revise voter rolls and raise funds. Earlier in December, the leader called for dialogue with the opposition. However, his proposition was rejected by some opposition groups who argued it was a way for Kabila to cling on to power.

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