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 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.
In response to army’s offensive in east against armed group Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), militants killed about 100 civilians sparking protests; deadly attacks continued in Ituri in north east; and tensions rose between alliances of President Tshisekedi and former President Kabila. In Beni territory, North Kivu province in east, after army launched offensive against ADF late Oct, troops captured several of its positions. In response, ADF upped attacks against civilians, leaving about 100 dead 1-27 Nov and thousands displaced. Angered by failure of security forces and UN mission (MONUSCO) to protect them, residents protested late Nov, setting fire to Beni town hall and storming MONUSCO facilities. Clashes between protesters and security forces, mainly in Beni, 23-26 Nov left two police officers and at least seven protesters dead. Tshisekedi 25 Nov decided to increase army presence in Beni territory and agreed to joint army-MONUSCO operations against ADF. In Rutshuru territory, North Kivu, military 9 Nov killed Juvenal Musabimana, commander of Rwandan armed group Union for Democracy (RUD). In Ituri province in north east, Maï-Maï raids 2-28 Nov left five dead. Armed group Cooperative for Development of Congo (CODECO) 16 Nov killed two in Djugu territory. Security forces 29 Nov killed ADF leader Mohamed Mukubwa Islam in Mapobu. In North Kivu and Ituri provinces, suspected Maï-Maï attacks targeting Ebola health workers night of 27-28 Nov left four dead. In South Kivu province, clashes between Maï-Maï and Gumino armed groups 4-27 Nov left twelve dead. After supporters of Kabila and Tshisekedi vandalised posters of rivals in capital Kinshasa and Kolwezi in south east, head of Tshisekedi’s party Jean-Marc Kabund 10 Nov announced suspension of talks between Tshisekedi’s alliance Heading for Change (CACH) and Kabila’s coalition Common Front for Congo (FCC). Kabund 12 Nov described FCC as unreliable partner; FCC same day condemned Kabund’s remarks. Tshisekedi’s Chief of Staff Vital Kamerhe 14 Nov called for calm and FCC 28 Nov reaffirmed its support for coalition govt. Tshisekedi and Ugandan President Museveni 9 Nov agreed to work together to fight armed groups in east.
The UN General Assembly kicks off on 17 September amid general scepticism about the world body’s effectiveness in an era of rising great-power competition. But the UN is far from paralysed. Here are seven crisis spots where it can make a positive difference for peace.
The ICC’s acquittal of Jean-Pierre Bemba comes at a critical point in DR Congo elections. President Kabila and his opponents will have to recalibrate strategies ahead of Bemba’s likely return. Outside powers should keep pressing Kabila to stand down and allow opposition candidates to participate.
A moment of waning international attention has led some in President Kabila’s camp to revisit the idea of an internationally-opposed third presidential term. African and Western leaders must maintain unity, redouble efforts to dissuade Kabila from pursuing this course and ensure preparations for elections in 2018 continue apace.
Elections in the Democratic Republic of Congo have been postponed since December 2016, but now seem to be slated for the end of the year. All parties should work to ensure credible polls, the best hope for a peaceful transfer of power.
In 2018, the African Union (AU) and its new Assembly Chairperson President Paul Kagame of Rwanda have the chance to push ahead with much-needed institutional reforms. But the AU must not lose focus on dire conflicts and defusing potential electoral violence.
[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.
The [DR Congo] regime wants to hold on to power, but does not have the legitimacy or the strength to push this through.
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.
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.
[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.
In 2019, the African Union faces many challenges, with conflicts old and new simmering across the continent. To help resolve these crises – our annual survey lists seven particularly pressing ones – the regional organisation should also push ahead with institutional reforms.
The DR Congo is facing a major political crisis over the 30 December election’s result. A recount would allow subsequent negotiations to take place on the basis of a clear understanding of who won.
After postponing long-awaited elections, the Democratic Republic of Congo's electoral commission has announced a second delay in voting in some conflict-affected areas – until after a new president takes office. This decision disenfranchises 1.25 million Congolese and risks major unrest. The commission should rescind it.
As election preparations in the Democratic Republic of Congo proceed, President Joseph Kabila has announced he will not run for re-election. He may hope this important move will relieve outside pressure for free and fair elections. International actors should keep up the scrutiny.