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President of the Democratic Republic of the Congo

President of the
Democratic Republic of the Congo
Presidential Standard of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.svg
Presidential Standard
Presidential Seal of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.svg
Presidential Seal
Joseph kabila.jpg
Joseph Kabila

since 17 January 2001
Residence Palais de la Nation, Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo
Term length 5 years, renewable once
Inaugural holder Joseph Kasavubu
Formation 1 July 1960
Coat of arms of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.svg
This article is part of a series on the
politics and government of
the Democratic Republic of the Congo
Foreign relations
United Nations Mission

The President of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (French: Président de la République démocratique du Congo, Swahili: Rais wa Jamhuri ya Kidemokrasia ya Kongo, Lingala: Mokonzi wa Republíki ya Kongó Demokratíki), is Congo's elected head of state, and the ex officio "supreme commander" (commander-in-chief) of the armed forces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (FARDC).

The position of president in the DRC has existed since the first constitution – known as The Fundamental Law – of 1960. However the powers of this position have varied over the years, from a limited shared role in the executive branch, with a prime minister, to a full-blown dictatorship. Under the current constitution, the President exists as the highest institution in a semi-presidential Republic. The president is protected by the Republican Guard.

The constitutional mandate of the current president, Joseph Kabila, was due to expire on 20 December 2016 but was extended by him until the end of 2017.[1]

Presidential powers

The semi-presidential system established by the constitution is largely borrowed from the French constitution. Although it is the prime minister and parliament that oversee much of the nation's actual lawmaking, the president wields significant influence, both formally and from constitutional convention. The president holds the nation's most senior office, and outranks all other politicians.

Perhaps the president's greatest power is his or her ability to choose the prime minister. However, since only the National Assembly has the power to dismiss the Prime Minister's government, the president is forced to name a prime minister that commands the support of the majority of this assembly.

  • When the majority of the Assembly has opposite political views to that of the president, this leads to political cohabitation. In that case, the president's power is diminished, since much of the de facto power relies on a supportive prime minister and National Assembly, and is not directly attributed to the post of president. Still, the constitutional convention is that the president directs foreign policy, though he must work on that matter with the Minister of Foreign Affairs.
  • When the majority of the Assembly sides with him, the President can take a more active role and may, in effect, direct government policy. The prime minister is de often a mere "fuse" – and can be replaced if the administration becomes unpopular.

Among the formal powers of the president:

  • The president ensures respect of the constitution and ensures the proper functioning of the public authorities and institutions as well as the continuity of the State. He guarantees the independence, territorial integrity, and sovereignty of the nation and ensures the observance of international treaties.[2]
  • The president appoints the Prime Minister and, acting on the advice of the latter, appoints and removes the other members of the government.[3]
  • The president convokes and presides at meetings of the Council of Ministers, promulgates the laws, and issues ordinances[4]
  • The president invests the elected Governors and Vice-Governors of the Provinces with their powers.[5]
  • The president appoints, suspends, and removes, on the proposal of the government and after deliberation by the Council of Ministers:[3]
    • Ambassadors and other diplomatic personnel;
    • Officers of the armed forces and national police, after hearing the opinion of the High Defense Council;
    • The general chief of staff, the chiefs of staff and the commanders of the main branches of the armed forces, after hearing the opinion of the High Defense Council;
    • High-ranking civil servants;
    • Persons in charge of public services and establishments;
    • Representatives of the State (other than auditors) in public enterprises;
    • Judges and public prosecutors on the proposal of the High Council of the Judiciary.[6]
  • The president is the commander-in-chief of the armed forces and chairs the High Defense Council.[7]
  • The president confers national honors.[8]
  • The president may declare a state of emergency or a state of siege "When grave circumstances constitute a present threat to the independence or the integrity of the national territory or when they provoke the disruption of the proper functioning of the institutions."[9]
  • The president may declare war with the authorization of both chambers of parliament, after deliberation by the Council of Ministers, and after hearing the opinion of the High Defense Council.[10]
  • The President may grant pardons or commute or reduce sentences.[11]
  • The President appoints and accredits ambassadors to foreign countries and international organizations, and receives ambassadors accredited to the Democratic Republic of the Congo.[12]
  • The President defines national policy in coordination with the government and is responsible, in cooperation with the government, for defense, security, and foreign affairs.[13]
  • The president has a very limited form of suspensive veto: when presented with a law, he or she can request another reading of it by parliament, but only once per law.[14]


Article 72 of the Congolese constitution states that the President must be a natural-born citizen – or more accurately: French: citoyen d'origine – of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and at least 30 years of age. Additionally, the President must be free of any legal constraints on their civil and political rights.

Article 10 of the same constitution defines citoyen d'origine as : "anyone belonging to the ethnic groups whose persons and territory constituted what became the Congo (currently the Democratic Republic of the Congo), at independence".


Articles 75 and 76 of the constitution state that upon the death or resignation of the President, the vacancy of the position is declared by the Constitutional court. The President of the Senate then becomes interim president.

The Independent Electoral Commission has to organize elections between sixty (60) and ninety (90)[15] days after the official declaration of vacancy by the Constitutional court.

Other information

Palais de la Nation,
Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo

The official office of the president is the Palais de la Nation (Palace of the Nation) in Kinshasa.

The official residence of the president is the Camp Tshatshi Palace in Kinshasa, although it has not been used since it was looted in 1997. Other presidential residences include:

  • the Palais de Marbre; it houses foreign official guests;
  • the Domaine de la Rwindi in Goma, Nord-Kivu;


Under the 2006 constitution, the President is directly elected to a five-year term – renewable only once – by universal suffrage. The first President to have been elected under these provisions is Joseph Kabila, in the 2006 elections.

In the DRC, the president is elected by a Two-round system of voting, which ensures the elected President always obtains a majority of the vote. If none of the candidates manage to receive the majority of the votes then the top two candidates in the election arrive at a run off. This allows smaller parties to have a greater impact on the outcome of elections, thus guaranteeing a multi-party system, as opposed to a two-party system.

After the president is elected, he goes through a solemn investiture ceremony.

2006 election

e • d Summary of the 30 July 2006 presidential election results
Candidate Party Votes %
Joseph Kabila Independent 7,590,485 44.81%
Jean-Pierre Bemba Gombo Movement for the Liberation of Congo 3,392,592 20.03%
Antoine Gizenga Unified Lumumbist Party 2,211,280 13.06%
Nzanga Mobutu Union of Mobutist Democrats 808,397 4.77%
Oscar Kashala Union for Congo's Reconstruction 585,410 3.46%
Azarias Ruberwa Manywa Congolese Rally for Democracy 285,641 1.69%
Pierre Pay-Pay wa Syakasighe Federalist Christian Democracy-Convention of Federalists for Christian Democracy 267,749 1.58%
Vincent de Paul Lunda-Bululu Rally of Social and Federalist Forces 237,257 1.40%
Joseph Olenghankoy Mukundji New Forces for Union and Solidarity 102,186 0.60%
Pierre Anatole Matusila Malungenine Kongo Independent 99,408 0.59%
Antipas Mbusa Nyamwisi Renewal Forces 96,503 0.57%
Bernard Emmanuel Kabatu Suila USL 86,143 0.51%
Eugène Diomi Ndongala Christian Democracy 85,897 0.51%
other candidates 2,319,547 6.42%
Total (turnout 70.54%) 17,931,238
Source: CEI-RDC

2011 election

e • d Summary of the 28 November 2011 Democratic Republic of the Congo presidential election results
Candidate Party Votes %
Joseph Kabila Independent 8,880,944 48.95%
Étienne Tshisekedi Union for Democracy and Social Progress 5,864,775 32.33%
Vital Kamerhe Union for the Congolese Nation 1,403,372 7.74%
Léon Kengo Union of Forces of Change 898,362 4.95%
Antipas Mbusa Independent 311,787 1.72%
Nzanga Mobutu Union of Mobutuist Democrats 285,273 1.57%
Jean Andeka Alliance of Congolese Nationalist Believers 128.820 0.71%
Adam Bombolé Independent 126,623 0.70%
François Nicéphore Kakese Union for the Revival and the Development of Congo 92,737 0.51%
Josué Alex Mukendi Independent 78,151 0.43%
Oscar Kashala Union for the Rebuilding of Congo 72,260 0.40%
Total (turnout 58.81%) 18,911,572 100.00%
Source: CENI-RDC

See also



External links