* Kabila term expires Monday, no new election organised
* Talks with opposition stall, fears of Kinshasa violence
* Angry youths determined to take to the streets
* Gov't blocks social media, sets up checkpoints
By Aaron Ross and Tim Cocks
KINSHASA, Dec 19 Congolese President Joseph
Kabila's final term in office expires on Monday, with no
election to choose a successor and amid a surge in popular anger
over what opponents say is an attempt to cling to power in
defiance of the constitution.
The election has been postponed until at least April 2018 on
the grounds of logistical and financial problems, and Kabila has
struck a deal with some opposition leaders that is meant to
allow him to remain in place until then.
The constitutional court has also ruled that Kabila,
president since his father was assassinated in 2001, can stay
But Democratic Republic of Congo's main opposition bloc
rejects the deal as a ploy. Recent talks mediated by the
Catholic church failed to reach a compromise.
The opposition said on Saturday that it would not call for
protests, but that move may not stop them happening.
"We are prepared to take to the streets to chase out
Kabila," said Diego Kas, 29, who is unemployed like much of
Congo's adult population, as he stripped a discarded fridge.
"Kabila will be an illegal president ... I don't know how
Kabila's going to stay on because we don't like him anymore ...
We are not his tenants. Congo is our country."
The government has outlawed protests in Kinshasa, an
opposition stronghold and city of 12 million people, raising
fears of repression and widespread violence in a nation that has
been plagued by war and instability for two decades since the
fall of kleptocrat Mobutu Sese Seko.
More than fifty people were killed in anti-Kabila protests
in September, mostly protesters shot by police, although some
mobs also attacked police stations and lynched officers. A
similar number died during demonstrations in January 2015.
"FLIRTATION WITH DISASTER"
Diplomats fear the violence could gain momentum and trigger
a conflict reminiscent of the wars from 1996 to 2003 that killed
millions of people, sucked in more than half a dozen
neighbouring armies and saw armed groups clash over its vast
mineral wealth and use mass rape as a strategic weapon.
U.S. Great Lakes envoy Tom Perriello on Thursday called
Kabila's hanging on "an entirely unnecessary flirtation with
disaster" at a speech at the United States Institute of Peace.
Anticipating a showdown, the government plans to block most
social media in order to prevent demonstrations and has set up
security checkpoints thoughout Kinshasa. It appears
to be calculating that, as in the past, any demonstrations will
fizzle out after a few days.
But youth activists seek inspiration from Burkina Faso,
where Blaise Compaore was ousted in 2014 by popular protests
while trying to extend his 27-year rule.
As in Burkina, protests in Congo are in part driven by
economic desperation. Congo is Africa's biggest miner of copper
and metals used in gadgets, like cobalt and coltan, but a
slowdown linked to falls in commodity prices has triggered steep
budget cuts and a 30 percent fall in the Congolese franc.
Yet Congo, a vast, forested country of 70 million people and
more than 200 ethnic groups, is much more fragmented than
Burkina, and previous protests achieved little.
Former colonial master Belgium has advised its citizens to
leave before Monday and the United States has warned against all
non-essential travel, telling expatriates who must remain, to
stay in doors.
(Editing by Andrew Bolton)