The Democratic Republic of Congo President Joseph Kabila (pictured) is this Wednesday expected to announce either a successor, or his own candidacy for elections in breach of a two-term limit.
A church-backed group called the Lay Co-ordination Committee (CLC) and a pro-democracy group, Lucha, have called for protests across the country if Kabila says he will go for a third mandate.
In central Africa, Angola is the only country where in 2016 a ruling president, Jose Eduardo do Santos, chose a successor, enabling a peaceful transfer of power after 38-years.
Kabila’s ruling coalition, the Common Front for Congo (FCC), has officially until 15:30 GMT to submit the name of their candidate to the electoral commission.
Eight candidates including at least three from the opposition have already submitted their names.
On Tuesday, members of the FCC were summoned to Kabila’s farm in Kingakati, outside Kinshasa, to discuss potential candidates for the December 23 vote.
Among the possible contenders are former prime minister Augustin Matata Ponyo (54), chief of staff to the president Nehemie Mwilanya Wilonga (50) and speaker of the National Assembly Aubin Minaku (53).
Some fear Kabila (47) could argue he has completed only one term in office because the constitution was changed since he became president that therefore he is eligible to run again.
A country of some 80 million people, the DRC has never known a peaceful government transition since it gained independence from Belgium in 1960.
Elections have been delayed since December 2016, prompting anti-Kabila protests that have been bloodily repressed.
Kabila’s tenure over the vast mineral-rich country has been marked by a reputation for corruption, inequality and unrest.
Several provinces are in the grip of armed conflict and according to the UN High commissioner for refugees, more than four million people have had to flee their homes, many to Uganda, Tanzania, Angola and Zambia.