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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

ADF rebel group launched increasingly daring attacks in eastern provinces; tensions flared over stalled appointment of electoral commission’s head. In North Kivu province’s Beni territory, suspected Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) rebels 5 Sept reportedly killed four in Kitsimba locality, Beni-Mbau sector, 16 and 22 Sept killed 14, including customary chief, in several villages in Bashu chiefdom. Citywide shutdown observed 13 Sept in Beni town to protest rising insecurity despite state of siege; authorities reportedly arrested dozens. In Ituri province’s Irumu territory, suspected ADF 1 Sept attacked vehicle convoy escorted by armed forces and UN (MONUSCO) peacekeepers on Komanda-Luna axis, killing ten with at least 80 missing; alleged ADF 4 Sept reportedly killed at least 30 in Luna-Samboko area, Walese Vonkutu chiefdom, and 23 Sept killed four in Komanda locality, Basili chiefdom. In Ituri’s Djugu territory, armed forces 6-7 Sept clashed with armed group Cooperative for the Development of Congo (CODECO) in Kobu area; 34 CODECO reportedly killed. Parliament 16-17 Sept approved eighth extension of state of siege in North Kivu and Ituri. In response to request from some MPs to assess state of siege prior to each vote, PM Sama Lukonde 17 Sept tasked interior, justice, defence and finance ministries to carry out assessment. Ahead of presidential election scheduled for 2023, tensions between govt and opposition rose over appointment of electoral commission’s head. Opposition coalition Lamuka 3 Sept presented own electoral calendar, including consultations to reach consensus on electoral reforms; also reiterated accusation that President Tshisekedi is seeking to illegitimately extend his tenure. Two influential parties of Tshisekedi’s parliamentary majority Sacred Union, Moïse Katumbi’s Together for the Republic and Vital Kamerhe’s Union for the Congolese Nation expressed support for initiative. Police 15 Sept used teargas to disperse Lamuka protest in capital Kinshasa demanding “depoliticisation” of electoral commission. Authorities overnight 20-21 Sept arrested journalist Sosthène Kambidi in Kinshasa over allegations of terrorism and insurrection, after Kambidi reportedly uncovered video showcasing 2017 killing of two UN experts in Kasaï province. National Assembly’s Bureau d’Etudes 26 Sept declared “inadmissible” controversial nationality bill seeking to limit presidential eligibility.
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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

Former 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

Our People

Onesphore Sematumba

Analyst, Democratic Republic of Congo and Burundi