Dec. 20 (UPI) -- The Democratic Republic of Congo's election commission said Thursday the country's upcoming presidential election will be delayed a week due to a fire and Ebola outbreak.
Kabila refused to leave office in 2016, causing protests of the president as demonstrators claimed he defied the national constitution. At least 20 were killed and and more than 150 were arrested. He only reluctantly agreed to vacate the office this election cycle.
The DRC's election commission said it needed the delay because of a fire a week earlier that destroyed nearly 80 percent of voting machines in the capital, Kinshasa, and the Ebola outbreak in the east.
The election has already been postponed repeatedly since 2016, and the latest delay is likely to spark protests by opposition leaders and students across the country. The DRC's constitution limits presidents to two consecutive terms. Kabila became president in 2001, following his father Laurent-Désiré Kabila, who was assassinated this January by one of his body guards.
Kabila was later elected president in 2006 and 2011. His reign has been marked by high levels of sectarian violence, poverty and corruption, according to Brookings Institute's report on the stakes of the 2018 DRC election.
The election will be the first democratic transition of power since the country gained independence from Belgium in 1960.
Electoral Commission chief Corneille Nangaa called for calm in the country of some 40 million voters.
Nangaa said officials have found enough voting machines for Kinshasa, but had to print 5 million new ballots.