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

Conflict Risk Alert

Distrust in electoral process continued to mar prospects for peaceful vote on 20 December; M23 rebels stepped up offensive, threatening key cities in North Kivu province.

Electoral preparations progressed haltingly as opposition discussed coalition. Constitutional Court 18 Nov validated all 26 presidential candidacies for 20 Dec election, and electoral campaign started next day. Six opposition candidates, including heavyweights Martin Fayulu and Denis Mukwege, 24 Nov filed complaint against head of electoral commission, Denis Kadima, and Interior Minister Peter Kazadi, accusing them of manipulating electoral process. EU 29 Nov cancelled election observation mission, citing security and technical reasons. Meanwhile, opposition representatives 13-17 Nov met in South Africa, and three candidates 19-20 Nov withdrew from presidential race to back Moïse Katumbi; neither Fayulu nor Mukwege followed suit.

M23 captured positions in east around North Kivu’s provincial capital Goma. Amid ongoing tensions between Kinshasa and Kigali (see Rwanda), Rwanda-backed M23 rebels continued offensive in North Kivu, with intense fighting in Masisi, Nyiragongo and Rutshuru territories. M23 from late Oct reoccupied most positions they had ceded to East African regional force and repelled army and loyal militias, formerly known as Wazalendo, on Sake-Kitshanga axis and Goma-Rutshuru axis. Notably, M23 14 Nov took control of Kishishe village, Rutshuru territory, 22 Nov captured Mweso city, Masisi territory. Clashes between M23 and army 26 Nov intensified around Kilolirwe village; several thousand households took refuge in Sake town, last stop before Goma. Responding to resurgent M23 threat, UN peacekeeping force (MONUSCO) 3 Nov launched operation with army to reinforce security around Goma; plans for mission’s withdrawal continued unhindered, as MONUSCO and govt 21 Nov agreed on timeline for complete disengagement. East African regional force, whose mandate is set to expire on 8 Dec, largely stayed out of fight. President Tshisekedi 17 Nov signed agreement on Southern African regional force, confirmed deployment “in the coming days”.

ADF continued to wreak havoc in eastern provinces. Islamic State-affiliated Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) rebels 7 Nov killed at least 12 civilians in three localities of Irumu territory, Ituri province; 12 Nov reportedly slaughtered up to 42 people in Watalinga chiefdom, Beni territory, North Kivu.

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In The News

17 Дек. 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 Септ. 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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