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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 violence from armed groups, regional leaders pledged to launch joint force to tackle M23 threat in country’s east. Violence continued to run high in east. Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) launched attacks in Irumu territory. Notably, alleged ADF 8 April killed eight in Pakulu village; ADF rebels 10-11 April killed at least 20 in Basili Chiefdom villages; alleged ADF 10 April killed nine in Shauri Moya locality, while four others found dead next day. Locals 11 April found 11 bodies in Mangusu village, 5km from Komanda locality where ADF reportedly killed at least 18 others same day. Four civilians died in alleged ADF attack in Otomabere village 16 April. In North Kivu province, ADF 4 April reportedly killed 29 people, including army captain, in Masambo village, Beni territory. Congolese operations continued as security forces alongside UN mission to DR Congo 19 April overtook key ADF base in Irumu’s Mont Oyo zone. Cooperative for the Development of Congo (CODECO) rebels 15 April decapitated five civilians in Ndjala village, Djugu territory. Following M23 rebels late-March offensive against army at border with Rwanda and Uganda, rebels 1 April, and again 10 April declared unilateral ceasefire; M23 rebels and army however accused each other of ongoing violence during month and heavy clashes 27 April resumed with army accusing rebels of provoking them. East African Community (EAC) representatives 21 April agreed to deploy joint military force to address threats from local armed groups in Eastern DRC; move follows DRC’s formal adhesion to EAC 8 April. State of siege 19 April renewed despite opposition from deputies from east. Deputies from parliamentary group Common Front for Congo (FCC), which is closely aligned with former President Kabila, 14 April boycotted National Assembly plenary session on reforms to new 2023 electoral law, prompting Assembly President Christophe Mboso to postpone plenary discussion to 20 April; debate on law 22 April resumed, albeit without FCC deputies. After Court of Cassation 11 April overturned Court of Appeal’s decision that sentenced Vital Kamerhe, Tshisekedi’s former chief of staff, to 13 years of hard labour for corruption and embezzlement, Kamerhe, 18 April returned to Kinshasa.

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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

Project Director, Sahel (Interim)

Latest Updates

Q&A / Africa

Understanding the New U.S. Terrorism Designations in Africa

The U.S. has designated two armed groups in the DRC and in Mozambique as terrorist organisations, claiming they are affiliated with the Islamic State, and creating potential legal peril for peacemakers who may deal with them. Crisis Group analyses the implications.

Commentary / Africa

Stabilising the Democratic Republic of Congo after an Apex Power Struggle

As power shifts into the hands of DR Congo’s President Tshisekedi, the risk of conflict with Kabila supporters still looms. In this excerpt from our Watch List 2021 for European policymakers, Crisis Group urges the EU and its member states to assist the government in fighting corruption and help keep the two camps on speaking terms. 

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

Our People

Onesphore Sematumba

Analyst, Democratic Republic of Congo and Burundi