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.
The Catholic bishops of DR Congo have ended their mediation efforts between President Kabila and a deeply divided opposition. Amid a backdrop of worsening insecurity in the Kasai provinces, Kabila’s agreement to appoint a new prime minister could merely mark the beginning of more protracted in-fighting.
Originally published in Independent Online
President Kabila 9 May appointed new govt under PM Tshibala; presidential majority kept most key ministries. Kabila 12 May invited parties signatory to 31 Dec agreement to submit names for national committee charged with overseeing agreement’s implementation (CNSA); main opposition coalition Rassemblement refused and rejected new govt. Southern African Development Community (SADC) and International Organisation of La Francophonie (OIF) 14-16 May assessed voter registration process; electoral commission (CENI) said political impasse over governing arrangements hindering process. EU 29 May placed sanctions on nine people including current and former interior ministers and security chiefs for obstructing electoral process and human rights violations. Kamuina Nsapu insurgency continued in Kasai Central province. Alleged Kamuina Nsapu militants beheaded two chiefs in Luiza territory 6 May and allegedly killed two boys in Demba territory 11 May. 47 Kamuina Nsapu killed in clash with soldiers in Kazumba territory 19 May. Army 15 May said 390 insurgents, 39 soldiers and 85 police killed in operations in Kasai Central since March. UN 12 May estimated 1.3mn people internally displaced in Kasai Central and neighbouring provinces since Aug 2016. UN Security Council 4 May urged govt to cooperate in investigation into March killing of two UN experts in Kasai Central; govt 25 May said it opposed international investigation having carried out its own. In N Kivu province, Mai Mai Nyatura and Rwandan Hutu rebel group Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) attacked soldiers in Masisi territory 8 May, killing two. Mai Mai Nyatura and FDLR splinter group National Council for Renewal and Democracy (CNRD) clashed 15 May, 29 people killed. Army 12 May captured Mai Mai Nyatura leader David Komayombi in Rutshuru territory, N Kivu. In Kinshasa, over 3,000 prisoners, including leader of Bundu Dia Kongo (BDK) politico-religious movement, escaped 18 May; BDK assault reportedly facilitated escape, at least five attackers, one policeman and two prison workers killed. In Kongo Central, 68 prisoners allegedly escaped in Kasangulu 20 May.
Angry demonstrations hit Kinshasa in September as President Kabila’s aim to stay in power beyond a 19 December constitutional deadline became clearer. Regional and international actors must use diplomatic and financial levers to bring about credible democratic elections and to reverse the DRC's worsening spiral of violence.
As the regime keeps delaying an encounter with the electorate, growing tensions and state repression in Congo’s resource-rich Katanga may be the precursor of a violent escalation. Without a credible national dialogue and better working relations between the central government and new provinces, the country could descend into a crisis reminiscent of the late 1990s.
With the 2016 presidential elections approaching, tension in the Democratic Republic of Congo is increasing. President Kabila is nearing the end of his second term and political manoeuvring within the government to create conditions for a third term is mobilising popular opposition, testing the country’s fragile democratisation and stability. International pressure is now vital to find a peaceful way forward.
A new consensus and strategy are urgently needed to tackle the numerous, brutal armed groups in eastern Congo and to save the February 2013 Peace, Security and Cooperation Framework (PSCF) in the Great Lakes region.
Sensible, inclusive regulation of pastoralism that has mitigated tension in parts of the Sahel should be extended to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and the Central African Republic (CAR), where conflicts have worsened with the southward expansion of pastoralism.
The Framework Agreement signed by the UN, African organisations and eleven countries and the deployment of an intervention brigade in North Kivu are positive steps, but conflicts in the Kivu region of the Democratic Republic of the Congo also require a bottom-up approach aimed at improving intercommunal relations and restoring peace at the local level.
[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.
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.
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.
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.
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].
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.
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.
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.
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
Originally published in Jeune Afrique
At the heart of disenchantment with President Kabila’s government lie deep economic woes.