Democratic Republic of Congo

In December 2023, President Félix Tshisekedi won a second term, while his Union Sacrée coalition swept up the most seats in parliament. With all candidates allowed to stand, the presidential election avoided some of the controversies of 2018. But despite Tshisekedi’s wide margin of victory, the polls were marked by chaos and reports of rigging. The political landscape remains deeply divided, and in the east, both Ituri and North Kivu provinces are rocked by instability. In the former, the Allied Democratic Forces continues its murderous campaign against civilians, attacking targets in Uganda, too, despite a Ugandan military campaign in Ituri since late 2021. In North Kivu, the 23 March Movement, widely seen as backed by Rwanda, continues to fight the Congolese army, which is backed by informal auxiliaries as well as allies from the Southern African Development Community. Hundreds of thousands of civilians have fled their homes as fighting spreads. Crisis Group aims to provide detailed recommendations on how to calm national tensions and de-escalate the situation in the east.

CrisisWatch Democratic Republic of Congo

Unchanged Situation

Ongoing clashes spread northward in North Kivu as ruling party head accused former President Kabila of supporting insurgents; Angola continued DRC-Rwanda diplomatic efforts.

Clashes between govt-allied forces and M23 rebels in North Kivu continued. As front froze west of provincial capital Goma despite sporadic mortar exchanges, M23 6 March expanded assault northward; rebels posed increasing threat to Lubero town and seized control of several others including Nyanzale 6 March, despite resistance from pro-govt Wazalendo militia groups. Fighting triggered further displacement with UN official 13 March saying violence had displaced 250,000 in one month. Strategic town Sake (25km north west of Goma) remained under Wazalendo and army control, although largely deserted; military blamed Rwandan troops for 16 March mortar shell that wounded eight UN peacekeepers in Sake town. Meanwhile, after 28 March meeting in Rutshuru in which several people linked to political movement of former President Kabila appeared alongside Corneille Nangaa, head of pro-M23 politico-military group Congo River Alliance, ruling party chief Augustin Kabaya accused Kabila of supporting insurgents, claiming former president had fled country.

Angola attempted to induce DRC-Rwanda de-escalation of crisis. Angolan President Joao Lourenço 11 March hosted Rwandan President Paul Kagame in Angola’s capital Luanda to discuss crisis, mirroring Congolese counterpart President Tshisekedi’s Feb trip to Angola; later, FMs from all three countries 21 March convened in Luanda, reportedly attempting to organise future summit between Kagame and Tshisekedi.

Other armed groups continued to take heavy toll on civilians in Ituri and North Kivu. In Ituri, clashes between CODECO militia, which claims to defend interests of Lendu ethnic group, and ZAIRE militia from rival Hema people 5 March claimed seven lives in Djugu territory. In North Kivu, according to military authorities Islamic State-affiliated Allied Democratic Forces militants 23-24 March killed at least thirteen civilians in twin attacks on Sayo district of Beni city, setting houses ablaze. 

In other important developments. Constitutional Court 12 March passed verdicts on electoral disputes from Dec parliamentary election, invalidating over 40 results, and predominantly benefiting pro-Tshisekedi ruling coalition. Govt 13 March announced resumption of executions citing need to combat perceived treachery and treason amid M23 conflict, spurring international condemnation.

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In The News

22 Feb 2024
If the regional escalation [in the DRC] continues, we could find ourselves in a scenario like during the other Congo wars … More bombing means more displacement. The Economist

Onesphore Sematumba

Analyst, Democratic Republic of Congo and Burundi
20 Dic 2023
The credibility of the elections [in the DRC] has been severely damaged and the opposition may contest not only the outcome but the entire process. The Guardian

Richard Moncrieff

Project Director, Great Lakes (Interim)
7 Dic 2023
The Congolese state is still riven with corruption and [president Felix Tshisekedi] hasn’t done anything visible or immediately obvious to tackle it. Al Jazeera

Richard Moncrieff

Project Director, Great Lakes (Interim)
17 Dic 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
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