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.
Fighting in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo is intensifying, with Ugandan and Burundian soldiers in pursuit of rebels and Congolese insurgents on the rebound. With help from its allies, Kinshasa should step up diplomacy lest the country become a regional battleground once more.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The Security Council has an opening to rethink its approach to DR Congo with this month’s mandate renewal of the UN peacekeeping mission. The council should prioritise local conflict resolution and bolstering President Tshisekedi’s efforts to improve regional relations to combat over 100 armed groups ravaging the east.
The UN General Assembly kicks off on 17 September amid general scepticism about the world body’s effectiveness in an era of rising great-power competition. But the UN is far from paralysed. Here are seven crisis spots where it can make a positive difference for peace.
Tshisekedi has been forced to cooperate with Kabila's Common Front for Congo (FCC) coalition and they have been in a standoff ever since.
[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.
[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.
The [DR Congo] regime wants to hold on to power, but does not have the legitimacy or the strength to push this through.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Online Event to discuss International Crisis Group's report "Mineral Concessions: Avoiding Conflict in DR Congo’s Mining Heartland".