Fragile security situation
The domestic political situation remained critical. In the two Kivu provinces in the east of the country, armed conflicts have intensified since the end of July after General Laurent Nkunda (* 1967) released his troops from the government forces and started the fight against the Hutu militias of the “Democratic Front for the Liberation of Rwanda” (FDLR) had resumed. At the end of August 2007, the army began an offensive against Nkunda.
According to estimates by the UN, the civil war in the Congo as a consequence of the genocide in Rwanda had already claimed around 3 million lives by 2008. With the advance of Nkunda’s troops on the provincial capital Goma in the east of the country, a new wave of violence set in in 2008, which escalated into a humanitarian catastrophe. More than 200,000 people were on the run from the fighting, which was accompanied by serious human rights violations against the civilian population. On January 20, 2009, at the official request of the Congolese government, Rwandan soldiers marched into the civil war region in eastern Congo to support the government troops. In the same month General Nkunda was arrested in Rwanda.
On November 28/29, 2011, there were parliamentary and presidential elections overshadowed by violent clashes and irregularities. The population confirmed incumbent Kabila with around 49% of the votes in office. Former Prime Minister Étienne Tshisekedi, who won 32.3% of the vote, questioned the legitimacy of the election. After the election results were confirmed by the Supreme Court, Kabila was sworn in for another term on December 20, 2011.
At the end of July 2012, the Tutsi rebels of group M 23 (Mouvement du 23-Mars), supported by Rwanda, captured several villages in the east of the country. Goma was temporarily occupied in November, but the rebels withdrew at the beginning of December after the government had promised to start peace talks. Hundreds of thousands of people fled the fighting. The Southern African Development Community (SADC) decided in December to send up to 4,000 soldiers to the Goma region. On February 24, 2013, President Kabila, representatives from the neighboring countries of the Congo and South Africa, and UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon signed a framework agreement on peace in the Congo.
Despite such efforts, v. a. the east of the country unstable. Thus, at the end of February 2013, rival factions of the rebel group M 23 began to fight each other. Former M 23 leader Bosco Ntaganda was transferred to the International Criminal Court in The Hague in March 2013. At the end of March 2013, the UN Security Council decided to send up to 3,000 more soldiers. From May 2013 onwards there were repeated clashes between UN soldiers, government troops and the M23 rebels, which in the following period increasingly fell on the defensive and in November 2013 announced the end of their uprising. An official declaration of peace was adopted in mid-December 2013. Nevertheless, the security situation remained critical. In 2014/15 there was fighting with the radical Islamic rebel group “Allied Democratic Forces” (ADF) founded in Uganda in North Kivu Province.
Mass protests against Kabila
According to prozipcodes, in 2016, the International Criminal Court (ICC) sentenced former Vice President Bemba to 18 years in prison for crimes against humanity and war crimes. In 2018 he was acquitted again for procedural errors.
Also in 2016, a domestic political conflict over the scheduling of the parliamentary and presidential elections escalated. In September 2016, the electoral commission announced that it would not be able to hold the elections due to a necessary revision of the electoral register. The decision sparked mass protests that claimed numerous lives. In October 2016, participants in a “National Dialogue” decided to postpone the elections to 2018 and to extend the term of office of President Kabila, which actually expired on December 19, 2016, until then. There were again bloody riots. The EU and the US imposed sanctions on the country.
After difficult negotiations mediated by the Congolese Bishops’ Conference, parts of the opposition and representatives of the government signed an agreement on December 31, 2016, in which Kabila was guaranteed an extension of his term of office until new elections at the end of 2017. The agreement also included the establishment of a transitional government with a prime minister from among the opposition. Kabila also had to undertake to comply with the constitutional provision that forbids him to run for president again. With the death of Étienne Tshisekedi, the leader of the UDPS, the opposition lost its central figure on February 1, 2017. As a result, the implementation of the Kabila project was also delayedconcluded agreement. On April 7th, 2017, he finally appointed Bruno Tshibala Nzenze (* 1955) to the interim premier, who had fallen out with the UDPS in the dispute over Tshisekedi’s successor. Observers rated this as an attempt to split the opposing forces. On July 7, 2017, the electoral commission declared that the elections planned for 2017 could not take place due to unrest in the Kasai region.
On December 30, 2018, around 40 million registered voters voted for a new president. With the party chairman of the opposition alliance Lamuka (»Awakening«) Félix Tshisekedi (* 1963), a surprise winner was determined on 10.1.2019 with 38.6% of the votes. For a long time the opposition candidate Martin Fayulu ( * 1956; also Alliance Lamuka) had been in the lead in opinion polls, on election day he lost 34.8% of the vote. In response to the incumbent President J. Kabila’s preferredcandidate, former Interior Minister Emmanuel Ramazani Shadaray (* 1960), accounted for 23.8% of the vote. The chaos on election day, the long counting of ballot papers by the national election commission and the exclusion of candidates made many people doubt a free and fair election. Tshisekedi’s statement that Kabila was now a partner, not an opponent, fueled rumors of secret agreements with the outgoing government.