República Democrática del Congo

Congo’s contested elections in December resulted in the country’s first electoral transfer of power, 59 years after independence. The outcome — with Félix Tshisekedi defeating the candidate backed by departing president Joseph Kabila — has been much in the news.

Cobalt is making headlines, too, along with questions about how the new president will manage resource governance in the mineral-rich country. Congo accounts for at least 60 percent of worldwide cobalt production and has about 50 percent of known global cobalt reserves.

My research in southeastern Congo suggests cobalt mining will prove an increasingly complex policy hurdle for the new president.…  Seguir leyendo »

Why Couldn’t My Ebola Treatment Center Save This Baby

A young mother stepped out of the ambulance into the triage area of our Ebola Transit Center, here in the northeast of the country. She moved slowly, careful not to wake the sick baby, swathed in layers of linens, that she carried in her arms. They had been brought here for testing because health workers suspected the baby might have Ebola.

We are six months into this latest Ebola outbreak. It is the worst on record for the Democratic Republic of Congo, and the second largest ever, after the 2014-2016 epidemic in West Africa. We’ve come a long way since then.…  Seguir leyendo »

A digger with bags of cobalt in Kolwezi, Democratic Republic of Congo. Congo abounds in cobalt, crucial for electronic devices. Credit Sebastian Meyer/Corbis News, via Getty Images

One evening in 2014, a police officer in Kolwezi, a dusty mining city of a half-million people in the southern Democratic Republic of Congo, decided that his family needed a new latrine. He picked up a shovel and started digging a pit in his yard and soon stood transfixed at the shimmering black dirt he’d unearthed: Before him was a pile of cobalt, one of the world’s most important minerals.

Cobalt is an essential component of rechargeable batteries in cars and mobile phones, and Congo is by far the world’s largest producer, with about half of all known reserves. In Kolwezi, the cobalt is often found with vast deposits of copper: After a rainstorm, some of the ground in the city turns as green as the Statue of Liberty.…  Seguir leyendo »

After a contentious race, on Jan. 10, Democratic Republic of Congo’s electoral commission pronounced Felix Tshisekedi the winner of the country’s Dec. 30 presidential elections. But polling data and parallel vote tabulations suggest it was“highly implausible” that Tshisekedi actually won, and the true winner was Martin Fayulu, who appealed the result.

In an unprecedented response, the Southern African Development Community (SADC), headed by Zambian President Edgar Lungu, called for a recount last week and proposed that the DRC consider forming a national unity government. SADC is known for not publicly intervening in member state electoral affairs.

In the week since then, the African Union convened a high-level meeting among heads of state or their representatives from several African regional organizations, including SADC; the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR); the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS); the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS); the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD); the East African Community; the African members of the United Nations Security Council (Côte d’Ivoire, Equatorial Guinea, and South Africa); and the AU troika.…  Seguir leyendo »

Joseph Kabila arrives at a polling station on election day, 30 December. Photo: Getty Images.

The announcement of Felix Tshisekedi as the winner of the presidential election in the Democratic Republic of the Congo came as a shock. Many expected the outgoing administration of President Joseph Kabila to install its chosen candidate, Emmanuel Shadary; there is now the fear that Kabila will continue to rule from behind the scenes.

But Kabila was never the African ‘strongman’ of cliché, and Tshisekedi’s putative victory reveals much about a deep-rooted political system and its ability to adapt.

Tshisekedi’s triumph is one of political engineering rather than the ballot box. Accurate polling is extremely difficult in a country like the DRC, where there has been no census since the 1980s, but there is no reason to doubt pre-election polls that showed a different opposition candidate, Martin Fayulu, in a commanding lead, nor the claims by the National Episcopal Conference of the Congo (CENCO) that data from their 40,000 observers does not match the results as announced.…  Seguir leyendo »

A billboard of the Democratic Republic of Congo’s departing president, Joseph Kabila, was burned by supporters of the opposition leader Felix Tshisekedi.CreditCreditHugh Kinsella Cunningham/EPA, via Shutterstock

At 3 a.m. on Jan. 10, bleary-eyed Congolese sat stunned in front on their TVs and radios. The preliminary results of the Democratic Republic of Congo’s presidential elections were announced, and it was not, as many had feared, the anointed successor of President Joseph Kabila. Nor was it the opposition leader Martin Fayulu, whom the respected Catholic Church had projected to win. Instead, it was Felix Tshisekedi — the son of the opposition leader Etienne Tshisekedi — who could be seen on Twitter and Facebook streams, hugging his wife and proclaiming victory.

These election results are extraordinary, in two very different ways.…  Seguir leyendo »

An Independent National Electoral Commission (CENI) agent seals a ballot box in front of observers in the Lubumbashi's Mapala district on December 30, 2018, following the close of polls in DR Congo’s presidential, provincial and national elections. CAROLINE THIRION/AFP

The Independent Electoral Commission in the Democratic Republic of Congo will likely declare results of the 30 December elections this week. Already there are worrying signs of divisions among international actors, after a statement by the Catholic Church, which fielded the largest election observation mission, indicating an opposition victory. Failure to respect the electoral result would risk throwing the country into a major political crisis. If there are indications the electoral commission has attempted to manipulate results, international actors, starting with the UN Security Council which plans to meet on Friday, should call for thorough and credible investigation before those results are accepted as definitive.…  Seguir leyendo »

Congolese riot policemen ride on a pickup truck as they patrol the streets ahead of the presidential election in Kinshasa, Congo, on Saturday. (Kenny Katombe/Reuters)

As the sun sets on yet another turbulent year marked by widespread violence and uncertainty, the Congolese people are looking to the new year with trepidation. The source of their anxiety is none other than President Joseph Kabila, the 47-year-old who has overstayed his two constitutionally-mandated five-year terms, the last of which expired in 2016.

Kabila, who has fostered this crisis, should be held personally responsible for further election-related deaths by his security forces and any further breaches of the rights to expression, information, assembly or association. He should not be allowed to hold Congo and the region hostage to his whims.…  Seguir leyendo »

A supporter of presidential candidate Martin Fayulu holds a sign saying "Goodbye Kabila, Fayulu President" at a campaign rally in Kinshasa, Congo, on Wednesday. (Stefan Kleinowitz/EPA-EFE/REX/Shutterstock)

The outgoing president of Congo appears to be on a charm offensive. The notoriously reclusive Joseph Kabila gave interviews to the New York Times, BBC, Financial Times and a host of others. For the most part, with few exceptions, the questioning was mild and presented Kabila as an affable leader doing his best to confront the enormous challenges of governing Congo.

Kabila’s government has invested a reported $8 million to lobby policymakers in the United States and cleanse his image by presenting a narrative that is far from the reality and experiences of the Congolese masses. The Congolese government hired an Israeli security and communications firm, Mer Security and Communication, to lobby Washington insiders who are close to the Trump administration.…  Seguir leyendo »

Congolese gather at a bar in Kinshasa to watch the President of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Joseph Kabila, addressing the nation, on 19 July 2018. AFP/John Wessels

On 8 August 2018, the filing deadline, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)’s ruling majority coalition announced that Emmanuel Ramazani Shadari would be its candidate in the presidential election slated for 23 December. The announcement ended, for now, speculation that the incumbent, President Joseph Kabila, would run for a third term in violation of the country’s 2006 constitution. Instead, Kabila opted to nominate a loyalist “dauphin” to succeed him. The president’s decision to stand down is a major positive development – the payoff of years of patient pressure from Congolese and outsiders alike.

By selecting a new candidate, the ruling party has shown its intent to contest the elections without the incumbent president.…  Seguir leyendo »

As youth activist Fred Bauma left Sunday service with his family at a church in Goma, Congo, earlier this year, police opened fire with tear gas — and, in other cities, real bullets. “Nothing is sacred for this government,” Bauma said afterward. “But they will not shake our faith in God or in Congo’s democratic future.” These were extraordinary words from a man who has lost colleagues and friends to the violence of the Congolese government.

The United Nations secretary general, the pope, the archbishops of Canterbury and Cape Town, and other world leaders are all calling for the right of Congolese youth to peacefully protest.…  Seguir leyendo »

Un futuro mejor para el Congo

La República Democrática del Congo (RDC) se ha convertido en sinónimo de estado fracasado. Ningún país ha pasado por conflictos más brutales, tenido más gobiernos cleptócratas y corruptos, o dilapidado más riquezas procedentes de recursos naturales. Entrampada en un ciclo de incertidumbre política, recesión económica y violencia en aumento, el desastre humanitario se ha vuelto una forma de vida. Y, sin embargo, un futuro mejor es posible.

En la destartalada escuela primaria de Rubaya, en un pequeño pueblo ubicado en las frondosas y verdes colinas de la provincia de Kivu del Norte, en la frontera con Ruanda, se puede tener un atisbo de esa posibilidad.…  Seguir leyendo »

Congo Research Group, Center on International Cooperation/Mapgrafix

“Africa has tremendous business potential. I have so many friends going to your countries, trying to get rich. I congratulate you. They’re spending a lot of money.”

—President Trump addressing African leaders during the UN General Assembly, September 2017.

Ahead of his first state visit to Africa in March, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson should rethink Washington’s longstanding support for some of Africa’s more tyrannical regimes, particularly those of Yoweri Museveni of Uganda and Paul Kagame of Rwanda, whose security forces continue to prey on their vast, mineral-rich neighbor Congo.

Ahead of his first state visit to Africa in March, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson should rethink Washington’s longstanding support for some of Africa’s more tyrannical regimes, particularly those of Yoweri Museveni of Uganda and Paul Kagame of Rwanda, whose security forces continue to prey on their vast, mineral-rich neighbor Congo.…  Seguir leyendo »

Dans Qu’est-ce qu’une vie bonne ? (Payot, 2014), la philosophe Judith Butler demande : « Y a-t-il des genres de vie qu’on considère déjà comme des non-vies, ou comme partiellement en vie, ou comme déjà mortes et perdues d’avance, avant même toute forme de destruction ou d’abandon ? » Cette question ne cesse de m’accompagner dans le travail d’anthropologue que je mène sur les effets sociaux de la violence en République démocratique du Congo (RDC).

Stratégie du chaos

Le 12 mars 2017, Zaida Catalan et Michael Sharp ont été assassinés au Kasaï. Membres du groupe des experts sur la RDC auprès du Conseil de sécurité de l’ONU, ils étaient chargés d’enquêter sur les groupes armés, les réseaux criminels et les violations des droits humains.…  Seguir leyendo »

Congo, futuro incierto pero no desesperanzado

Cuando visité el Congo por primera vez, en 2006, era difícil entender cómo alguien podría albergar esperanzas sobre el futuro de la región. Los congoleños acababan de salir de más de una década de la peor violencia que ha visto el mundo desde la Segunda Guerra Mundial: se calcula que más de 3,5 millones de personas murieron en este conflicto. El genocidio en la vecina Ruanda había inundado la zona con más de un millón de refugiados, incluidos combatientes armados huidos.

El surgimiento de las milicias y el inminente derrumbe del estado congoleño dio lugar a una prolongada lucha. La población civil se vio sorprendida en medio del fuego cruzado, lo que provocó un desplazamiento masivo interior y mucho sufrimiento.…  Seguir leyendo »

Last week BBC News at Ten broadcast its first reports on a conflict the world cannot afford to continue to ignore. The United Nations says the scale of the crisis is on a par with Syria and Yemen, but has received minimal media attention. About 400,000 children in the Kasai region – an anti-government stronghold in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) – are at risk of death by starvation over the next couple of months if emergency food is not delivered.

A total of 7.7 million people – approximately 10% of the DRC’s population – are, according to the World Food Programme, on the verge of starvation; 3.2 million are in the Kasai region alone.…  Seguir leyendo »

On Thursday, according to the United Nations, at least a dozen peacekeepers were killed and dozens more wounded in an attack on the U.N. peacekeeping mission, known by the acronym MONUSCO, in Congo. So far, we know little — but what we do seem to know sketches a daunting picture.

According to local and U.N. sources, around 6 p.m. local time Thursday, unidentified but heavily armed assailants attacked a MONUSCO base near a bridge over the Semuliki River on the Mbau-Kamango road northeast of Beni town. Operated by the Tanzanian battalion of MONUSCO’s offensive combat segment — the Force Intervention Brigade — the base appears to have immediately lost radio contact with other MONUSCO positions in the area.…  Seguir leyendo »

Crisis Group’s recent publications on the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), including our 4 December 2017 report, examine the crisis provoked by President Joseph Kabila’s determination to hold onto power and repeatedly delayed elections. The DRC is only one of three African countries we cover whose future course could depend in part on the holding of credible elections: one vote past, in Kenya; one future, Zimbabwe’s 2018 polls; and one deferred, in the DRC.

These polls have had – or will have – important implications for democracy and stability not only in the three countries themselves but for the region as a whole.…  Seguir leyendo »

In an interview with Tagesschau’s Alexander Göbel, Crisis Group’s Central Africa Project Director Richard Moncrieff discusses DR Congo’s many crises and how the international community can deal with the country’s ongoing political blockage.

Richard, what is the current situation in the Democratic Republic of DRC?

It’s not good. There is a complete political blockage. The best way to describe it is to go back to the beginning of the year to what is called the Saint Sylvester agreement, where opposition parties and pro-government parties (known as the Majority) agreed that they would hold elections in the course of 2017 and that the constitution wouldn’t be changed in light of these elections.…  Seguir leyendo »

Undocumented Migration from the Northern Triangle of Central America

Flows of undocumented migrants from Central America, through Mexico and toward the U.S. have given rise to a humanitarian emergency, albeit one that at present is largely treated by Washington as a national security menace and a justification for tougher border control. Originally driven by economic hardship, this northbound migration owes its intensity and longevity to multiple causes that make controlling or reducing it extremely hard. Mass victimisation of vulnerable migrants in transit has become the norm and could well be aggravated by Washington’s growing anti-immigration agenda. In this context, the European Union (EU) should adapt its current strategies in Central America to promote a more comprehensive approach to the protection of migrants.…  Seguir leyendo »