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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

Deteriorated Situation

Amid rising insecurity and deadly violence, President Tshisekedi declared “state of siege” in eastern provinces; new coalition govt formed. Tshisekedi 30 April declared “state of siege” in North Kivu and Ituri provinces in east, vowed to “swiftly end insecurity” as move could pave way for military operation in coming weeks. Earlier in month, demonstrations against govt and UN mission (MONUSCO) turned into intercommunal clashes in North Kivu. Notably, protesters 11 April killed two ethnic Kumu in provincial capital Goma; clashes between Kumu and Nande communities 12-13 April left at least 15 dead in Goma and Nyiragongo territory. Elsewhere in North Kivu, armed group Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) 23-24 April killed 11 civilians in Beni territory; security forces 30 April used tear gas to disperse protesters who had been camping outside Beni’s town hall for several days, demanding MONUSCO’s departure. In Ituri, armed group Cooperative for the Development of Congo (CODECO) 6-16 April killed at least 29 people and kidnapped 36 in Djugu territory. In neighbouring Irumu territory, suspected ADF 4 April kidnapped at least 20 in Mungwanga village and 11-13 April killed 23 across several villages in Bayali-Tchabi chiefdom; coalition of CODECO and Patriotic and Integrationist Front of Congo (FPIC) 20 April killed at least ten in Nyara village. Ituri’s interior minister 18 April warned about possible return of proxy wars between regional actors in Ituri, blaming “rebels from Uganda” for rise in violence. UN Children’s Fund 26 April recorded over 1.6mn displaced and 2.8mn in need of emergency assistance in Ituri, warned about “recent surge in armed and inter-community violence”. Following two months of negotiations, PM Sama Lukonde 12 April presented new cabinet of 57 members; cabinet includes political forces who supported Tshisekedi in forming new Sacred Union coalition after end of his coalition with former President Kabila’s Common Front for Congo (FCC). 138 MPs – all FCC defectors – 14 April denounced Tshisekedi’s control of all key ministries and underrepresentation of certain provinces, and threatened to block new govt’s inauguration; National Assembly 26 April however endorsed new govt.
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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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