Democratic Republic of the Congo

DRC CENI headquarters

Photo: Monusco.

Joseph Kabila’s attempt to circumvent constitutional rules on term limits and stay in office has triggered an upsurge in deadly violence in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and one of the worst humanitarian crises on the continent. In North and South Kivu, an estimated 120 armed groups are currently operational, up from 75 just 6 months ago. Some of them are now coalescing around a political agenda of a transition without Kabila, complicating a fragile political situation with no immediate solution. To advance understanding of this complex situation, the Africa Center for Strategic Studies has compiled a selection of its analyses that identify the roots of the crisis in the DRC and priorities for reestablishing stability and making progress toward a democratic transition.


Power Shift in the DRC Cracks open a Door to Reform

By Paul Nantulya, January 22, 2021 (updated February 23, 2021)

A shift in the balance of power within the National Assembly enhances the influence of President Felix Tshisekedi and represents a step toward long-delayed democratic reforms.


DRC Election Results Suggest a Rare Chance for Change

By the Africa Center for Strategic Studies, January 12, 2019

Civic action has been vital to reach a historic outcome, however, many challenges remain to achieve a genuine democratic transition.


Elections in the Democratic Republic of the Congo Falling Short of Credible

By Alix Boucher, December 14, 2018

The DRC’s general elections originally scheduled for December 23, two years overdue, face serious credibility challenges. The repercussions of a faulty vote could further dampen the prospects for improved security and stability in the region and erode democratic norms across the continent.


Stability in the Democratic Republic of the Congo beyond the Elections

By Paul Nantulya, November 28, 2018

Joseph Kabila seeks to maintain the status quo as the Democratic Republic of the Congo enters a transition amid growing instability.


Ituri Becomes Congo’s Latest Flashpoint

By the Africa Center for Strategic Studies, August 14, 2018

The DRC’s ongoing political crisis is straining local peace agreements in Ituri forged after the Second Congo War, threatening wider instability.


When Peace Agreements Fail: Lessons from Lesotho, Burundi, and DRC

By Paul Nantulya, April 30, 2018

Conflicts in Africa often reflect a breakdown of peace agreements that have been methodically dismantled by politicians intent on evading checks on power while oversight is weak. Vigilance is vital as early progress is not a guarantee of long-term success.


Catholic Church Increasingly Targeted by Government Violence in the DRC

By the Africa Center for Strategic Studies, March 27, 2018

The Catholic Church is at the forefront of organizing protests demanding elections in the DRC, despite government intimidation.


A Medley of Armed Groups Play on Congo’s Crisis

By Paul Nantulya, September 25, 2017

The DRC’s political crisis has galvanized and revived many of the estimated 70 armed groups currently active in the country, making the nexus between political and sectarian violence by armed militias a key feature of the DRC’s political instability.


Prospects for Peace in the DRC

By the Africa Center for Strategic Studies, February 17, 2017

In an interview with the Africa Center, John Katunga, senior advisor on the DRC’s peace processes, discusses the importance of sustained engagements by both citizens and external actors if negotiations are to lead to a stable transition.

Spotlight Series

Part 1: A Looming Calamity in the Democratic Republic of the Congo
Part 2: The DRC’s Oversight Institutions: How Independent?
Part 3: The Role of Civil Society in Averting Instability in the DRC
Part 4: Are the DRC’s Security Sector Institutions Helping or Impeding Political Reform?
Part 5: The Role of External Actors in the DRC Crisis

By the Africa Center for Strategic Studies, 2016–17

This series provides an analysis of the ongoing challenges to the democratic process in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and how various actors and institutions will shape the outcome.


Governance and Peace Building in the Democratic Republic of the Congo

By Laura Seay, November 7, 2016

Laura Seay of Colby College discusses the political crisis in the DRC and what it means for the future of good governance and the rule of law there.


Changing the Political Calculus

By Joseph Siegle, October 12, 2016

African leaders have tried many different ways to evade term limits in recent years. The tack taken by Joseph Kabila is particularly straightforward—and brazen. He is simply avoiding holding elections for his successor altogether.


Intrastate Conflicts Fuel Refugee Movements

By the Africa Center for Strategic Studies, June 20, 2016

After two decades of decline, Africa has seen an upswing in armed conflicts in recent years. Today, Africa endures more intrastate conflicts than any other region of the world. While Africa has only 16 percent of the world’s population, it is home to 52 percent of the world’s armed conflicts.


Africa’s Electoral Landscape: Concerning Signals, Reassuring Trends

By Dorina Bekoe, May 16, 2016

Between March 2016 and December 2017, there will be at least 52 presidential and parliamentary elections in 38 countries in sub-Saharan Africa. With memories of the intense violence following the elections in Kenya (2007), Zimbabwe (2009), Côte d’Ivoire (2010), and Nigeria (2011), many international and regional institutions have become more focused on understanding the motivations.


Natural Resources in Africa Case Study: DRC

By Mvemba Phezo Dizolele, August 20, 2015

This presentation provides a historical look at the Democratic Republic of the Congo and an examination of management and exploitation of natural resources and the intersection of natural resources, stability, conflict, and security.

Senate Hearing

Prospects for Peace in the DRC and Great Lakes Region

By the Africa Center for Strategic Studies, February 28, 2014

Raymond Gilpin, the Africa Center’s Dean of Academic Affairs, testifies before the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee on “Prospects for Peace in the DRC and Great Lakes Region.” Others panelists include diplomats Russell D. Feingold, Roger Meece, and actor/director/activist Ben Affleck.


State and Human Security in Central Africa: Governance and Security Challenges

By Thierry Vircoulon, December 12, 2013

Efforts to reform the security sector requires broad engagement from government leaders, the military, and civil society. There must likewise be a commitment from donors to look for long-term gains rather than for short-term results. This presentation highlighted lessons learned from the security sector programs in Burundi, the Central African Republic, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.


Peace Support Operations in Africa

By Roger A. Meece, December 3, 2013

Discussing the modern United Nations and African Union peacekeeping operations environment, Ambassador Roger A. Meece, former head of the UN Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO), suggested that peace operations need to integrate traditional peacekeeping with peace enforcement and peacebuilding if they are to be successful.


Regional Hot Spots: Central Africa

By Joshua Marks, August 2, 2013

Joshua Marks discusses the complexities of and challenges for U.S. foreign and national security policy in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Africa Security Brief

Peace Operations in Africa: Lessons Learned Since 2000

By Paul D. Williams, July 31, 2013

More than 50 peace operations have deployed in Africa since 2000, including multiple African-led or hybrid African Union/United Nations initiatives. The frequency of these deployments underscores the ongoing importance of these operations in the playbook of regional and multilateral bodies to prevent conflict, protect civilians, and enforce ceasefires and peace agreements.

Africa Security Brief

Unfinished Business: A Framework for Peace in the Great Lakes

By Rigobert Minani Bihuzo, July 31, 2012

Despite numerous peace agreements, Africa’s Great Lakes region has been in various states of conflict for the past two decades. The contributions and shortcomings of some of the most significant previous peace initiatives, however, offer vital lessons as to how to mitigate the local level tensions, national political dynamics, and competing regional interests that have led to recurring outbreaks of violence.