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

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.

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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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