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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

Amid ongoing violence in east, authorities started implementing “state of siege” in North Kivu and Ituri provinces as military took over from civil authorities. As part of “state of siege” in east, President Tshisekedi 4 May ordered military and police officers to take over from civilian authorities in North Kivu and Ituri provinces starting 6 May for initial period of 30 days; in controversial move, appointed Lt Gen Constant Ndima as North Kivu governor, despite UN accusation that he committed serious crimes in Ituri during 1999-2003 war, and Lt Gen Jon Luboya, former intelligence commander of Rwanda-backed Congolese Rally for Democracy, as governor of Ituri. Armed group violence continued in east. In North Kivu’s Beni region, unidentified armed men 1 and 18 May killed two imams, who had allegedly spoken out against violence in name of religion. Presumed rebels affiliated with Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) 10 May killed peacekeeper during attack on MONUSCO’s Kiliya base. Authorities 12 May announced creation of joint-operations centre with Uganda in Beni and 17 May struck agreement with Kampala to share intelligence on ADF rebels; move prompted several politicians to criticise Tshisekedi for what they called invitation to foreign armies without parliament agreement. In Ituri, armed forces early-May launched offensive against Patriotic and Integrationist Front of Congo (FPIC), notably causing 15,000 civilians to flee Nyakunde locality and killing nine FPIC militia. Meanwhile, in Mambasa territory, ADF 11 May killed at least 29 in Ngaka locality and 11-16 May killed 21 across Bangole groupement, Babila Babombi chiefdom. In Irumu territory, ADF 30-31 May killed over 50 in Boga and Tchabi villages. Tshisekedi continued efforts to consolidate power as his allies 6 May ousted governor of Tanganyika province, brother of former President Kabila, for mismanagement of province; 12 May announced intention to run for second term. In capital Kinshasa, celebrations for Islamic Eid al-Fitr holiday turned deadly: rival Muslim factions 13 May clashed, leaving police officer dead. Rwandan President Kagame 17 May denied crimes committed by Rwandan troops in eastern DR Congo between 1993-2003 despite 2010 UN Mapping Report detailing crimes.

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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

Report / Africa

République démocratique du Congo : en finir avec la violence cyclique en Ituri

En Ituri, depuis fin 2017, une nouvelle période de violence ravive les rivalités entre Hema et Lendu et affecte les autres communautés. Le gouvernement du président Tshisekedi devrait obtenir la reddition des milices lendu et encourager le forum quadripartite à mettre ce conflit d’ampleur régionale à son ordre du jour.

Also available in English
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

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Onesphore Sematumba

Analyst, Democratic Republic of Congo and Burundi
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