The United Nations Security Council is urging the government of Congo to maintain a free, fair and timely electoral process, as fears mount that President Joseph Kabila may try to remain in power despite being constitutionally barred from a new term.

The Security Council on Thursday voted to renew sanctions on Congo stressing "the crucial importance of a peaceful and credible electoral cycle in accordance with the Constitution," and expressing concern over "recent arrests and detention of members of the political opposition."

Congo has not had a peaceful transfer of power in its 55 years of independence. Kabila, who took office in 2001, has yet to comment publicly on his political future.