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

Military stalemate persisted in North Kivu as security deteriorated in regional capital Goma; govt renewed scrutiny over supposed allies of rebels. 

Military front remained frozen but pervasive violence swept Goma city. Frontlines in North Kivu province stalled as govt forces held regional capital Goma but M23 rebels retained control of strategic areas near Sake town (25km north west of Goma) and foothills of Nyiragongo volcano; heavy gunfire continued, however, including 4 April mortar that killed three Tanzanian soldiers in Mubambiro area deployed as part of Southern African regional bloc (SADC) mission SAMIDRC, which Congolese army blamed on M23. Meanwhile, escalating insecurity gripped Goma with military and pro-govt Wazalendo militia groups blamed for surge in lawlessness that saw at least 22 civilians and one soldier killed in city during month; notably, alleged soldiers and Wazalendo members on motorbikes 10 April killed four civilians during armed robbery near provincial governorate building. Locals at times responded violently, leading to soldiers and Wazalendo casualties and raising tensions. In response, govt suppressed protests while also attempting to demonstrate accountability, including 15 April sentencing Republican Guard member to death for civilian shootings. Meanwhile, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa 24 April announced extension of troop contribution to SAMIDRC for unspecified time.

Govt continued to accuse former President Kabila of M23 support. Intelligence services 5 April released deposition video of Éric Nkuba, recently-arrested adviser to pro-M23 politico-military group Congo River Alliance, in which Nkuba implicated Kabila and several figures close to him as M23 supporters; next day, Kabila allies dismissed allegations and said Nkuba coerced into testimony.

Armed militias continued attacks against civilians in Ituri and North Kivu. In North Kivu, Islamic State-affiliated Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) rebels 2 April killed ten civilians in Mangina commune, Beni territory. In Ituri province, ADF 7 April killed eight civilians in Otomabert village, Irumu territory while ethnic Lendu militia CODECO members 14 April ambushed and robbed convoy of humanitarian workers on road to Fataki town, Djugu territory. In attempt to address violence, Defence Minister Jean-Pierre Bemba 19 April oversaw signing of agreement for immediate cessation of hostilities by various armed groups including CODECO.

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In The News

9 maj 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
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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