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Democratic Republic of Congo

A decade of relative stability is at risk from rising polarisation over the delayed organisation of elections and President Joseph Kabila’s determination to stay in power beyond his constitutional time limit in December 2016. Crisis Group is alerting policymakers to the threat of popular violence, harsh crackdowns by the security forces and the continued threats posed by existing and emerging armed groups. Through advocacy based on field-researched analysis of national and local political dynamics and regional diplomacy, we seek to persuade domestic rivals to compromise in their disputes, to create a consensus among stakeholders on a transition to credible elections, and to persuade African and Western powers to coordinate their efforts to end the Congolese crisis.

CrisisWatch Democratic Republic of Congo

Unchanged Situation

Electoral commission (CENI) 7 July said elections will not take place in Dec 2017 as foreseen in 31 Dec 2016 agreement; Catholic Church (CENCO) 10 July said decision to postpone elections required consultation between govt, CENI and committee overseeing implementation of 31 Dec agreement (CNSA), while Felix Tshisekedi, leader of opposition coalition Rassemblement, 11 July said CENI had “declared war” on people. Govt 22 July appointed CNSA members and named Rassemblement dissident Joseph Olenghankoy as chair; opposition criticised Olenghankoy’s appointment. Rassemblement 22 July released six-month plan for mass mobilisation against Kabila and suggested short transitional period without him if elections do not take place by end-2017. Prime minister 7 July called on donors for financial assistance to ease “economic difficulties”, but IMF 12 July said release of funds conditional upon political environment improving. U.S. 11 July said it would place sanctions on whoever hinders organisation of elections. Govt 13 July sentenced Angolan President Dos Santos’ Congolese son-in-law and Kabila’s fierce critic Sindika Dokolo to one year prison for real estate fraud. UN mission (MONUSCO) 7 July said it would close five bases in N Kivu in east by 31 July. In N Kivu, Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) militia 5 July kidnapped eighteen people in Beni, releasing them five days later; at least nine Mai Mai militiamen, two members of security forces and one civilian killed in clashes 5 and 11 July. Militias 8-11 July launched multiple attacks on army positions in Masisi, Rutshuru, Beni and Lubero territories in N Kivu. In S Kivu, army regained control of Fizi and Ishasa 5 July after five days of combat that killed at least two soldiers, nine Mai Mai and one civilian; in country’s fifth jailbreak in three months, some twenty prisoners escaped in attack on Bukavu’s central prison. In Kasai provinces, UN 4-7 July identified 38 more mass graves, bringing total to 80 in centre; suspected Kamuina Nsapu militiamen 9 July kidnapped 26, mostly civilians, in Lomami province. In south, intercommunity fighting continued.

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Reports & Briefings

In The News

16 Jun 2017
[A statement by former African leaders could bridge] the gap between sitting African leaders, who are putting little pressure on Kabila, and the west, who are imposing sanctions and demanding an election. Financial Times

Hans Hoebeke

Senior Analyst, Congo
31 Mar 2017
We should not see [MONUSCO] as the force that can go in and stabilise the Kasai [in DR Congo]. It can, at least, stop government and militia forces committing human rights violations in impunity. Newsweek

Hans Hoebeke

Senior Analyst, Congo
28 Mar 2017
The ball is very much in [President] Kabila’s court now. The president [of DR Congo] has been more or less silent for the last three months so this would be a good time for him to speak out. Financial Times

Hans Hoebeke

Senior Analyst, Congo
1 Feb 2017
There is a possibility of protests and emotional reaction, potentially violent [in DRC, following the death of opposition leader Etienne Tshisekedi]. No one has the popular legitimacy to take over. Financial Times

Hans Hoebeke

Senior Analyst, Congo
26 Jan 2017
What’s going on [in DR Congo] shows an implosion is inevitable because the political system is not set up to solve [disputes over the position of Prime Minister]. Financial Times

Hans Hoebeke

Senior Analyst, Congo
18 Dec 2016
You have a disconnect [in DR Congo] between a very impoverished people and a political-social class that basically negotiates and cuts deals amongst themselves. The Los Angeles Times

Hans Hoebeke

Senior Analyst, Congo

Latest Updates

Commentary / Africa

RD Congo : dangereuse guerre d’influence dans l’ex-Katanga

Depuis 2015, des tensions parcourent l’ex-province du Katanga, en RDC. Le mécontentement envers Kinshasa gagne du terrain face aux manœuvres politiques et à une situation économique dégradée, tandis que la région est un enjeu majeur pour le président Kabila, déterminé à se maintenir au pouvoir.

Impact Note / Africa

From Embassy Row to the Congolese Street

Six months into research fellowships made possible by Canadian philanthropist and Crisis Group Trustee Frank Giustra, we catch up with three young experts now working with our Europe, Africa and Middle East teams. Here we interview Philippe Kadima Cintu, who is focusing on his own country, DR Congo.

Statement / Africa

Twelve Points for the New African Union Commission Chairperson

Africa is experiencing the highest number of humanitarian crises since the 1990s. As the new chair of the African Union Commission, Moussa Faki Mahamat, takes office, International Crisis Group suggests how he can strengthen the organisation’s response to threats to continental peace and security.

Also available in Français
Op-Ed / Africa

What Does Opposition Leader Tshisekedi’s Death Mean for DR Congo’s Road to Elections?

The death of the veteran politician deprives the opposition of a well-known rallying figure. Without him, uncertainty and growing popular anger are likely to lead to more instability.

Originally published in African Arguments

Our People

Hans Hoebeke

Senior Analyst, Congo