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Democratic Republic of Congo

The DRC saw its first peaceful transition of power since independence after the December 2018 general elections, despite widespread reports of vote rigging. Since 2020, President Félix Tshisekedi has taken steps to consolidate his authority and to diminish the influence of his predecessor Joseph Kabila, who has commanded loyalty throughout the security services and continued to control state institutions and revenue streams since stepping down. But even as he promises change, Tshisekedi has inherited a system of violent kleptocracy and risks repeating his predecessors’ errors. There are already signs he may be taking a more repressive turn. Meanwhile, the country experiences instability in the east and continued threats by armed groups. Crisis Group aims to alert policymakers to the risk of a return to violence if domestic rivals fail to compromise in their disputes, especially since politicians are already gearing up for the 2023 elections. 

CrisisWatch Democratic Republic of Congo

Unchanged Situation

Political contestation for power exposed fractures in President Tshisekedi’s Sacred Union; meanwhile, armed group violence continued in east. PM Sama Lukonde had yet to form govt by end of month, as members of newly formed Sacred Union competed for ministerial posts throughout March, including opposition heavyweights Moïse Katumbi and Jean-Pierre Bemba; Lukonde 18 March urged local population to remain calm amid continuing political wrangling. Modeste Bahati Lukwebo, a supporter of Tshisekedi, 2 March elected as new Senate president with 89 out of 109 votes; election ensured Tshisekedi supporters control three key institutions: Senate, National Assembly and Prime Ministership. U.S. State Department 10 March designated armed group Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) as Foreign Terrorist Organisation and its leader Seka Musa Baluku as Specially Designated Global Terrorist, referring to ADF as Islamic State of Iraq and Syria-Democratic Republic of the Congo (ISIS-DRC); Human Rights Minister André Lite 11 March welcomed designation and urged other countries to follow suit. ADF continued to destabilise rural areas in east, as it expanded its operational zones from North Kivu province toward Ituri province. In North Kivu, ADF rebels 10 March killed three during raid on Matombo village; 15 March killed 17 in Bulongo city; 22 and 29 March reportedly killed at least 15 in Samboko-Chanichani village. Also in North Kivu, Mai-Mai militia 25 March abducted 20 people in Kalonge village, Lubero territory. In Ituri, ADF launched several attacks in and around Walese Vonkutu chiefdom, Irumu territory: 14 killed in Mambelenga village 2 March; at least ten killed in Ndimo and Apende villages 7-8 March; and seven suspected ADF rebels killed in clash with army in Mahala village 29 March. Also in Ituri, six militia members of Patriotic and Integrationist Force of Congo 7 March killed in clashes with army in Kunda village in Irumu’s Babelebe chiefdom; at least 30 people including 11 civilians, two soldiers and one policeman killed during 15 March clashes between army and Cooperative for the Development of Congo (CODECO) militia in Djugu territory.

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Reports & Briefings

In The News

16 Jul 2020
Tshisekedi has been forced to cooperate with Kabila's Common Front for Congo (FCC) coalition and they have been in a standoff ever since. Al Jazeera

Nelleke van de Walle

Deputy Project Director, Central Africa
30 Jan 2020
[The Allied Democratic Forces in DR Congo] have a very brutal way of killing the civilians and they don’t differentiate. They kill women, children, men. The Irish Times

Nelleke van de Walle

Deputy Project Director, Central Africa
28 Jan 2019
[President of DR Congo] Tshisekedi's swearing-in is often sold as selling out democracy in favor of stability. But it’s pragmatic and based on developments on the ground. VICE

Hans Hoebeke

Former Senior Analyst, DR Congo
1 Feb 2018
The [DR Congo] regime wants to hold on to power, but does not have the legitimacy or the strength to push this through. IRIN

Hans Hoebeke

Former Senior Analyst, DR Congo
7 Dec 2017
We have a date [for DR Congo's presidential election], and it is technically feasible to organise [them] for the end of next year. Whether it is politically realistic is another question. Financial Mail

Hans Hoebeke

Former Senior Analyst, DR Congo
7 Dec 2017
There is evident concern of growing instability and a frustration [in DR Congo] at the political blockage that is fueling popular frustration and the spread of violence in the country. New Europe

Richard Moncrieff

Project Director, Central Africa

Latest Updates

Event Recording / Africa

Avoiding Conflict in DR Congo’s Mining Heartland (Online Event, 13th July 2020)

Online Event to discuss International Crisis Group's report "Mineral Concessions: Avoiding Conflict in DR Congo’s Mining Heartland".

Report / Africa

Mineral Concessions: Avoiding Conflict in DR Congo’s Mining Heartland

Copper and cobalt are the Democratic Republic of Congo’s two biggest exports. Artisanal miners often dig for these riches on lands licensed to large companies, sometimes prompting violent state intervention. The government should instead foster better ways for citizens to share in the mineral wealth.

Also available in Français
Commentary / Africa

De-escalating Tensions in the Great Lakes

President Tshisekedi’s plans for joint operations with DR Congo’s belligerent eastern neighbours against its rebels risks regional proxy warfare. In this excerpt from our Watch List 2020 for European policymakers, Crisis Group urges the EU to encourage diplomatic efforts in the region and Tshisekedi to shelve his plan for the joint operations.

Briefing / Africa

Averting Proxy Wars in the Eastern DR Congo and Great Lakes

Three Great Lakes states – Burundi, Rwanda and Uganda – are trading charges of subversion, each accusing another of sponsoring rebels based in the neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo. Outside powers should help the Congolese president resolve these tensions, lest a lethal multi-sided melee ensue.

Also available in Français, Português

A New Approach for the UN to Stabilise the DR Congo

The Security Council has an opening to rethink its approach to DR Congo with this month’s mandate renewal of the UN peacekeeping mission. The council should prioritise local conflict resolution and bolstering President Tshisekedi’s efforts to improve regional relations to combat over 100 armed groups ravaging the east.

Also available in Français

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Onesphore Sematumba

Analyst, Democratic Republic of Congo and Burundi
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