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

Deteriorated Situation

Political tensions escalated ahead of December general elections, and M23-related violence resumed, jeopardising fragile ceasefire observed on the ground since April.

Political climate sharply deteriorated. Military intelligence 5 June accused opposition leader Moïse Katumbi’s right-hand man, Salomon Kalonda – detained in May – of collusion with Rwanda and M23 rebels, and 8 June searched Kalonda and Katumbi’s homes in capital Kinshasa and Lubumbashi city. Moves fuelled concern among opposition parties that President Tshisekedi may use M23 crisis to repress rivals ahead of December general elections. Opposition and civil society continued to strongly criticise electoral process. Former President Kabila 16 June denounced those “organising chaotic elections that will set the country ablaze”, while opposition heavyweight Martin Fayulu 19 June threatened election boycott if voter list is not redone. After National Episcopal Conference 22 June condemned democratic backsliding, Tshisekedi 25 June accused Catholic Church of intimidation.

Clashes resumed between M23 rebellion and local armed groups allied to army. Following lull in M23-related violence in North Kivu province since April, M23 rebels 8, 26 June clashed with ethnic Hutu militia in Bwito chiefdom, Rutshuru territory, and 15 June captured Kasura, Butale and Lwama villages in Bashali chiefdom, Masisi territory, after clashes with ethnic Hutu and Hunde militias; renewed fighting reported in Masisi 17-21 June. Meanwhile, Angola 3 and 27 June hosted regional summits to help resolve conflict (see Rwanda).

Deadly attacks by ethnic and Islamist militias continued. Association of various ethnic Lendu militias, Cooperative for the Development of the Congo, 11-12 June rampaged through Lala displacement camp in Djugu territory of Ituri province, killing 46 civilians, mostly ethnic Hema. Islamist militia Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) 2-9 June killed at least 24 people in Beni territory, North Kivu. ADF 16 June also launched deadly cross-border attack into Uganda (see Uganda), and 25 June killed several people in Manya locality, Mambasa territory, Ituri.

Conflict between Yaka and Teke communities continued in west. Ethnic Yaka “Mobondo” militiamen 6 June beheaded ethnic Teke village chief in Maluku commune, Kinshasa, and 26 June killed at least 20 people, mostly from Teke ethnic group, in ambush in Kwamouth territory, Mai-Ndombe province.

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In The News

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
Onesphore Sematumba

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