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 east armed group Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) continued to attack civilians in response to army offensive, killing about 100, violence persisted in Ituri province in north east, and tensions continued between coalitions of President Tshisekedi and former President Kabila. In Beni territory, North Kivu province, in response to army offensive launched late Oct, ADF continued to attack civilians leaving at least 97 dead. Notably, during night of 29-30 Dec militants killed eighteen people in Apetina-Sana, west of Oïcha, Beni territory. Civilians continued to protest insecurity, directing anger at UN mission (MONUSCO); security forces 2 Dec prevented hundreds of protesters from reaching UN compound in Beni and attempted to disperse crowds with live fire, killing at least three. U.S. 10 Dec placed sanctions on six ADF rebels including group’s leader. In Ituri province in north east, armed group Cooperative for Development of Congo (CODECO) 6 Dec abducted twelve in Djugu territory. MONUSCO soldiers night of 7-8 Dec repelled attack by unidentified assailants. CODECO raid in Mutanga 11 Dec left nine dead. Clashes between security forces and CODECO 14 Dec in Djugu territory left four militants and two soldiers dead. CODECO raids and clashes between CODECO and military in Mutanga and Djugu 11-20 Dec left at least nineteen dead. In Mambasa, clashes between Maï-Maï militants and armed forces 27 Dec left eight dead. In Rutshuru territory, North Kivu, security forces 4 Dec killed commander of Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR). In South Kivu, army late Nov launched operation against FDLR splinter group National Council for Renewal and Democracy (CNRD) capturing around 2,000 combatants and dependents; army 16 and 21 Dec repatriated 361 combatants to Rwanda. Members of Kabila’s coalition Common Front for Congo (FCC) denounced 4 Dec decision by FM Nzeza, member of Tshisekedi’s party, to recall three ambassadors, including two reportedly close to Kabila, for “serious breaches”. UN Security Council 19 Dec renewed MONUSCO’s mandate for one year.
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.