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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

Security situation worsened further in east as new armed group launched deadly attacks in South Kivu and other rebel groups killed scores; opposition protested to demand neutrality of electoral commission. In east, unknown group “Coalition of Congolese Patriots for the Application of Article 64” – in reference to constitutional provision stating that Congolese people should resist dictatorship – 3 Nov attacked and briefly occupied South Kivu’s provincial capital Bukavu; fighting killed three security forces and six assailants according to official reports. In North Kivu province, unidentified assailants 7 Nov attacked army positions in Rutshuru territory; army chief next day accused rebel group March 23. Presumed Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) combatants continued attacks in North Kivu and Ituri provinces, forcing thousands to flee to neighbouring Uganda. In North Kivu’s Beni territory, suspected ADF 4 Nov attacked Kalembo town in Rwenzori sector, killing three; 11-12 Nov attacked Kisunga village, Bashu chiefdom, reportedly killing at least 60 and setting fire to local hospital. In Ituri, presumed ADF 5 Nov reportedly killed nine civilians in attack on commercial vehicles under army escort in Walese Vonkutu chiefdom, Irumu territory. Ugandan military 30 Nov launched air and artillery raids against ADF on Congolese soil in operation reportedly agreed with Kinshasa. Militia group Chini ya Kilima-FPIC 15 Nov reportedly killed at least 18 civilians in Chabusiku village near Ituri’s provincial capital Bunia. Also in Ituri, armed group Cooperative for the Development of Congo (CODECO) 6 Nov attacked Djaidu town in Djugu territory, killing two civilians. Army Gen Celestin Mbala in Bunia same day appointed team of mediators to negotiate with CODECO. However, fresh CODECO attacks on refugee camp in Djugu territory 21-22 Nov left at least 29 dead. National Assembly 17 Nov extended state of siege in North Kivu and Ituri for another month; parliamentarians from those provinces abstained from vote. In capital Kinshasa, thousands of opposition party members and church leaders 13 Nov protested President Tshisekedi’s Oct appointment of alleged ally Denis Kadima as head of electoral commission; new demonstrations held 22 and 27 Nov in front of electoral commission headquarters, with police arresting several people.
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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

Project Director, Great Lakes
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

Project Director, Great Lakes
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

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Onesphore Sematumba

Analyst, Democratic Republic of Congo and Burundi