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

Deteriorated Situation

Security and humanitarian situation worsened in east after deadly bombing of displacement camp as rebels took more territory; security forces thwarted apparent coup attempt. 

M23 crisis escalated following attack on IDP sites near North Kivu capital Goma. Rockets allegedly fired from rebel positions west of Goma 3 May struck Mugunga and Lac Vert displacement camps, resulting in 35 deaths, deadliest M23-related attack since Nov 2022. Govt and U.S. accused Rwanda, prompting Kigali to vehemently deny involvement. Meanwhile, M23 continued advance following late April capture of strategic mining town Rubaya. Violence also threatened South Kivu province, with 7 May M23-attributed rocket attack in Kisongati village, resulting in seven fatalities and six injuries; rebels may in June pose threat to pivotal town of Minova, possibly opening route to advance further into South Kivu. Southern African regional bloc (SADC) mission SAMIDRC 5 May announced plans to offensively counter M23 rebellion but faced persistent financial challenges.

Diaspora member orchestrated unsuccessful apparent coup in capital Kinshasa. Army 19 May claimed to have foiled coup attempt led by Christian Malanga – American resident and promoter of New Zaire movement – in Kinshasa’s Gombe district, resulting in death of Malanga, one other assailant and two police officers. Gunmen targeted largely symbolic locations – including residences of top officials and empty state house – prompting widespread questions about security protocols and motives of attack.

Armed group violence plagued Ituri and North Kivu. In North Kivu, seven suspected victims of Islamic State-affiliated Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) rebels found 3 May along Mangina-Mantumbi road in Beni-Mbau sector. In Ituri, ADF 6 May killed three in Kianangazi village, Irumu territory, abducting one child. Subsequent attacks 9, 12 and 13 May in both provinces resulted in further casualties and abductions, raising doubts about efficacy of joint Congolese-Ugandan anti-ADF operations. 

Ruling party faced discord over formation of new administration. President Tshisekedi 29 May announced new govt – rewarding loyalists and campaign organisers with top jobs while axing foreign and defence ministers – following months of intense haggling amongst his political coalition. Meanwhile, opposition warned against potential power grabs amid concerns over Tshisekedi’s 3 May proposal to overhaul constitution.

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In The News

22 máj 2024
The main resource driving conflict [in the DRC] isn’t coltan. It is the land. It’s material ownership, of course, but also who has a legitimate right to be here. Foreign Policy

Onesphore Sematumba

Analyst, Democratic Republic of Congo and Burundi
9 máj 2024
Rwanda’s primary interest [in the war in eastern DRC] is to continue to have its say in this geopolitical battlefield. Financial Times

Onesphore Sematumba

Analyst, Democratic Republic of Congo and Burundi
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 dec 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 dec 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 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

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Onesphore Sematumba

Analyst, Democratic Republic of Congo and Burundi
Onesphore Sematumba

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