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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 political tensions, President Tshisekedi visited eastern region apologising for past human rights violations and criticising role of army and other institutions. Tshisekedi 12 June toured eastern provinces, which have been under martial law since late April, asked local population for forgiveness for human rights violations committed by security forces and armed groups and promised to prosecute those responsible for abuses; 20 June described army as “mafia” and denounced senators who 15 June voted against lifting immunity of Senator Augustin Matata Ponyo, PM under former President Kabila, accused of embezzlement of public funds.  Meanwhile, armed violence continued. In Ituri province, armed group Cooperative for the Development of Congo (CODECO) 12 June clashed with armed forces in Ikpa-Bura locality, Djugu territory, reportedly leaving at least 11 CODECO militants and three soldiers dead; CODECO same day killed five in Guu village, also Djugu. Armed group Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) 25 June reportedly killed four and kidnapped several others between Boga and Bukiringi villages, and 27 June killed 14 civilians in Manzobe locality, all Irumu territory. In North Kivu’s Beni territory, ADF 4 June killed two in Ntoma village, and 10 June abducted dozens from Kisanga and Livano villages. In Beni town, authorities 27 June implemented curfew after several bombings 26-27 June reportedly injured two civilians. UN Group of Experts on DRC 10 June said they were unable to find “conclusive evidence of ISIL [Islamic State] command and control over ADF operations, nor of ISIL direct support” and said acts committed by armed forces in Ituri’s Djugu and Irumu territories “may constitute war crimes”. Meanwhile, following May confirmation of Tshisekedi’s former Chief of Staff Vital Kamerhe’s prison sentence for embezzlement, his party Union for the Congolese Nation (UNC) 10 June suspended its participation in Tshisekedi-allied Cap for Change (CACH) coalition; also called on 16 UNC deputies to suspend their activities in Sacred Union, Tshisekedi’s new majority coalition. Kamerhe’s conviction along with Senate’s vote against lifting Matata’s immunity could affect fragile coalition.

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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