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

M23 offensive moved closer to North Kivu’s capital Goma with rebels capturing more ground in Masisi territory as fighting fuelled regional tensions despite efforts to resolve crisis; voter registration kicked off in eastern provinces.

M23 made major gains in North Kivu province’s Masisi territory. Fighting between M23 and govt forces early Feb moved to area around Sake, last major town before North Kivu’s capital Goma in Masisi territory. As clashes throughout month continued on hills around Sake, M23 captured several other localities in area, notably strategic town of Mushaki 24 Feb, and 26 Feb seized important mining town of Rubaya.

Frosty Kinshasa-Kigali relations continued to dominate regional diplomacy. Demonstrations 6 Feb erupted in Goma over frustration with UN peacekeeping mission (MONUSCO) and East African Community (EAC) regional force’s failure to stop M23 rebels’ advance. Mob next day attacked MONUSCO convoy on its way to Goma, with eight civilians killed in skirmishes. Govt 16 Feb claimed 350 Rwandan troops had just entered North Kivu to reinforce M23 positions (see Rwanda). EAC summits 4 and 17 Feb failed to break new ground, reiterating calls for ceasefire.

Armed group violence remained widespread in North Kivu, Ituri provinces. Islamist militia Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) 8 Feb killed 12 civilians in Konge Pwendi village, Beni territory (North Kivu), and 12 Feb killed another 12 in two villages of Irumu territory (Ituri). Congolese and Ugandan joint operations nonetheless recorded modest successes against ADF, including 5 Feb killing four ADF members attacking civilian convoy in Irumu territory. Meanwhile, CODECO ethnic militia carried out several attacks in Ituri, notably killing 21 people across several villages of Djugu territory 12 Feb. Rival “Zaire” ethnic militia 5 Feb attacked Dyambu village, also Djugu, killing 11 people.

Voter registration kicked off in conflict-ridden eastern provinces. Ahead of general elections scheduled for Dec, voter registration 16 Feb began in conflict-ridden eastern provinces. Registration 19 Feb started in two large camps hosting displaced persons around Goma; electoral commission said those living in M23-controlled areas will be registered gradually, depending on army’s reconquest of these zones.

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In The News

17 Dec 2022
If we can't negotiate a humanitarian corridor for the city [of Goma in eastern DR Congo], it will be a catastrophe. AFP

Onesphore Sematumba

Analyst, Democratic Republic of Congo and Burundi
26 Sep 2022
Armed groups [in the Central African Republic] have been disbanded, but [they] still extort and harass the local population. DW

Enrica Picco

Project Director, Central Africa
20 Jun 2022
The tensions between these two countries [DRC and Rwanda] could destabilise a region that’s already facing political instability. The Guardian

Nelleke van de Walle

Project Director, Great Lakes
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

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Onesphore Sematumba

Analyst, Democratic Republic of Congo and Burundi
Onesphore Sematumba

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