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 widespread armed group violence in eastern provinces, hundreds of detainees released in jailbreak, while Burundi officially deployed troops. In North Kivu province, alleged Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) rebels supported by local militiamen 9-10 Aug stormed Butembo central prison, freeing at least 800 detainees; authorities 11 Aug reported two policemen killed during raid, and claimed to have recaptured 250 fugitives. Youths in Butembo city 12 Aug demonstrated to denounce police force’s inability to provide security; armed protesters fired at police, leaving four policemen dead. After UN mission (MONUSCO) left Butembo base following deadly anti-MONUSCO protests in July, clashes 23 Aug erupted at deserted base between army and suspected Mai-Mai militia, leaving two militiamen dead. Suspected ADF combatants 25-30 Aug reportedly attacked six villages in North Kivu’s Beni territory and neighbouring Irumu territory in Ituri province, leaving at least 54 people dead, while many others were kidnapped. In Ituri’s Djugu territory, ethnic Hema “Zaire” militiamen 5 Aug killed at least 22 people in Damas village; in retaliation, ethnic Lendu militiamen from Cooperative for the Development of Congo (CODECO) 7 Aug attacked several Hema villages in Djugu, leaving seven Zaire militiamen dead and taking at least 20 people hostage. Also in Djugu, militiamen from CODECO 11 and 16 Aug attacked mining sites, leaving a least 20 people killed; 28 Aug reportedly killed at least six gold miners in Lodjo locality. Meanwhile, in confidential report leaked 4 Aug, UN experts said there was “solid evidence” that Rwandan troops have conducted military operations in eastern DR Congo in support of M23 rebels since Nov 2021 (see Rwanda); during African tour, U.S. Sec State Antony Blinken 11 Aug said Rwandan President Kagame and Congolese President Tshisekedi had agreed to hold direct talks. Clashes between Congolese forces and M23 rebels 16 Aug broke out in several villages of North Kivu’s Rutshuru territory; group notably targeted Rwanguba hydroelectric power plant site. After months of denial from Kinshasa and Gitega of any Burundian army presence in DR Congo, Burundian soldiers 15 Aug officially crossed into South Kivu province as part of bilateral agreement between the two countries (see Burundi).

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In The News

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
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

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Onesphore Sematumba

Analyst, Democratic Republic of Congo and Burundi
Onesphore Sematumba