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US Orders Families of Government Personnel to Leave Troubled DRC

Demonstrators gather in front of a burning car during an opposition rally in Kinshasa, DRC, Sept. 19, 2016.

The U.S. State Department has issued a travel warning for the Democratic Republic of Congo and has ordered families of government personnel stationed there to leave.

The travel warning said, "The potential for civil unrest is high in parts of Kinshasa and other major cities." Kinshasa is the DRC capital.

"As a result of the deteriorating situation," the warning said, "family members of U.S. government personnel have been ordered to leave the country beginning September 29. Most official U.S. government travel to the DRC has been halted."

Deadly clashes have broken out in the country over the presidency of Joseph Kabila. His last day in office is supposed to be December 19. He has ruled for two terms, beginning in 2001. The constitution bars him from seeking a third term. However, the nation's electoral commission says it will not be able to hold elections until late 2018.

Kabila has not said publicly what he will do. Critics say he is stalling to stay in power.

Violent protests over the delay have raised fears that this Central African nation might become yet another one enveloped in chaotic political crisis. Diplomats say the nation’s neighbors need to step up and encourage dialogue to end the impasse. Rights groups say the DRC government has acted to suppress dissent by imprisoning activists and violently putting down protests.