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 has intensified in North Kivu, in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, with M23 rebels now partially encircling the major city Goma. Regional leaders, particularly Kenya, should press hard for a halt to the insurgent advances and urge Kinshasa and Kigali to reduce tensions.
M23 rebel group advanced further toward North Kivu’s capital Goma, as regional efforts to cool tensions between Kinshasa and Kigali continued.
M23 made further gains near Goma amid regional efforts to de-escalate conflict. Fighting between govt forces and M23 rebels around 11 Nov picked up again in several areas, with M23 mid-month taking control of Kibumba town (Nyiragongo territory) and Tongo city (Rutshuru territory), cutting off only remaining supply route to Goma apart from Rwandan border. M23 rebels 20 Nov seized populated settlements of Kiseguro and Katwiguru (both Rutshuru), about 30km from Ishasha border point with Uganda, and 25 Nov captured Kisharo settlement in same area. As President Tshisekedi 3 Nov again denounced Kigali’s “expansionist impulses” in supporting M23, East African Community (EAC) redoubled efforts to de-escalate tensions (see Burundi, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda). Tshisekedi and Rwandan FM Vincent Biruta 23 Nov attended EAC summit in Angolan capital Luanda, called for immediate withdrawal of M23 from “occupied zones” in North Kivu and cessation of hostilities starting 25 Nov; M23 refused to lay down arms or withdraw from captured territory.
Govt forces and allies continued to clash with other rebel groups in east. In North Kivu’s Beni territory, alleged Islamic State-affiliated Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) 8 Nov attacked Kabasha village, killing three civilians, and around 9 Nov killed 13 civilians in Bashu settlement. Ugandan Air Force 4 Nov destroyed large ADF camp at undisclosed location in east, while govt forces 25 Nov killed seven ADF insurgents and freed 30 hostages in Mwalika area, Beni. Maï-Maï militiamen 25-26 Nov exchanged fire with govt forces in Butembo city, also Beni; five dead on both sides. CODECO militia carried out several attacks in Ituri province, notably 18-19 Nov in Walla area, Mahagi territory. Military said joint Burundi-DR Congo operation around 26 Nov killed 40 members of Hutu-led rebel group of Rwandan origin National Forces of Liberation near Nabombi town, South Kivu province.
Conflict between Yaka and Teke communities continued in western provinces. Clashes in Misia town, Kwilu province, 2 Nov left 16 people dead and 25 missing; armed assailants 7 Nov attacked Boku village, Kwamouth territory of Mai-Ndombe province, leaving at least 20 dead.
Armed groups [in the Central African Republic] have been disbanded, but [they] still extort and harass the local population.
The tensions between these two countries [DRC and Rwanda] could destabilise a region that’s already facing political instability.
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.
This week on The Horn, Alan Boswell is joined by Crisis Group consultant Richard Moncrieff to discuss recent developments in the conflict in the eastern DR Congo, tensions between Kinshasa and Kigali as well as regional and international efforts to address the crisis.
Rising violence in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo has the Great Lakes region on edge. In this excerpt from the Watch List 2022 – Autumn Update, Crisis Group explains what the EU and its member states can do to help bring stability to the area.
East African leaders have agreed to assemble troops to combat armed groups in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. The Congolese authorities have announced the first troop deployment, but obstacles remain. Crisis Group expert Nelleke van de Walle explains the plan and its risks.
In a three-part special episode of The Horn, Alan speaks to three Crisis Group experts across the Horn of Africa and Great Lakes regions. He talks with William Davison about the prospects for peace talks in Ethiopia, to Nelleke van de Walle about Kenya’s new diplomatic efforts in the eastern DR Congo, and to Nazanine Moshiri about the drought devastating the Horn region.
Cyclic violence has raged in the eastern DRC for almost 30 years. Crisis Group experts Onesphore Sematumba and Nicolas Delaunay visited Beni, in North Kivu, shortly after Uganda launched a military operation against the Allied Democratic Forces, an Islamist insurgency based in the region.
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.
This week on Hold Your Fire! Richard Atwood talks to Great Lakes expert Nelleke van de Walle about the escalation of violence in the eastern DR Congo, as Uganda and Burundi deploy troops to fight rebels in the area and Rwanda threatens to do the same.
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