Democratic Republic of Congo President Joseph Kabila says he will not seek re-election and will support former Interior Minister Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary in the upcoming presidential election.
The announcement Wednesday by government spokesman Lambert Mende ends years of speculation about whether Kabila would seek a third term, despite a constitutional two-term limit.
Candidates had until afternoon Wednesday to officially enter the race for the presidency, which will be determined on December 23.
Kabila should have stepped down at the end of 2016 when his second term expired, but he invoked a constitutional clause allowing him to remain in office as a caretaker.
The uncertainty fueled political tensions and sparked anti-Kabila protests that were violently suppressed.
The country of 80 million people has never had a peaceful transition of power since it gained independence in 1960 from European colonial powers.