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

Ahead of elections set for December, crackdown on dissent and civil liberties escalated as security forces killed over 40 anti-UN protesters in eastern province of North Kivu.

Anti-MONUSCO protest turned deadly. Govt forces 30 Aug stopped religious group from holding demonstration against UN mission (MONUSCO) in North Kivu’s provincial capital, Goma; crackdown reportedly left at least 43 people dead and 56 wounded, while over 150 people were arrested. Repression sent chilling message across country over space for free speech and dissent in lead-up to general elections due in late 2023.

Armed group violence continued in eastern provinces, mainly targeting civilians. In Ituri province, Islamist militia Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) 19-21 Aug killed over 50 people in Irumu territory. Also in Ituri, Cooperative for the Development of the Congo (CODECO), which gathers various ethnic Lendu militias, 15 Aug killed 11 civilians in two attacks in Irumu territory, and 27-28 Aug killed 30 people in Djugu and Aru territories. Amid fragile truce with govt, Rwanda-backed M23 rebels continued to fight with local armed groups for territorial control in North Kivu. Notably, clashes between M23 and Democratic Forces for the liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) 6 Aug killed at least two FDLR combatants and ten civilians in Marangara and Ruzanze villages, Rutshuru territory. Meanwhile, participants to President Tshisekedi-sponsored roundtable held 14-16 Aug in capital Kinshasa called for immediate lifting of so-called “state of siege” declared in May 2021 in Ituri and North Kivu provinces, citing lack of conclusive results in fight against armed groups.

In other important developments. In likely bid to strengthen control of security apparatus as elections near, Tshisekedi 1 Aug appointed new heads of National Intelligence Agency and National Security Council. Electoral commission 11 Aug published provisional list of candidates for National Assembly, and 27 Aug completed registration of candidates for provincial and municipal elections; political heavyweights Joseph Kabila and Martin Fayulu boycotted registration process. Electoral commission 22 Aug restricted municipal election on 20 Dec to communes located in provincial capitals, citing customary power conflicts in rural areas; elections projected in 2024 in remaining municipalities.

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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

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Onesphore Sematumba

Analyst, Democratic Republic of Congo and Burundi
Onesphore Sematumba

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