Democratic Republic of Congo

Working to support peace processes in Africa
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The DRC is the 2nd largest country in Africa with the 4th largest population on the continent. It has one of the most biologically diverse areas in the world, the Virunga National Park.

The country hosted its long-awaited national elections in December 2018, that were won by leader Felix Tshisekedi with 36.6% of the vote. However, the DRC has never fully recovering from a series of conflicts that broke out in the 1990s, creating a protracted economic and social challenge. The war claimed up to six million lives, either as a direct result of fighting or because of disease and malnutrition. The fighting in the DRC has been fuelled by many factors including the country’s vast mineral wealth, which have created a state of the anarchy and plunder. Even the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO), the largest UN peacekeeping mission, are struggling to keep the fragile peace in the DRC. Further seeking to undermine any milestones achieved, is the Ebola outbreak risk that further exposes the weaknesses of the DRC infrastructure.
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Kinshasa

Capital City

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Félix Tshisekedi

President

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Republic (Semi-Presidential system)

Government System

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French and the intermediary languages Kikongo, Tshiluba, Kingwana (a dialect of Swahili), and Lingala

Major Languages

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250 ethnic groups have been distinguished – the most numerous people are the Luba, Mongo, and Bakongo

Ethnic Groups

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Christian ±90%, Muslim 1% and Hinduism 0.18%

Religions

DRC's People

70 m
Population
18 %
Youth
9 %
Unemployment

Education

The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) education system is plagued by low coverage and poor quality. 3.5 million children of primary school age are not in school, and of those who do attend, 44% start school late, after the age of six. National data indicate that only 67% of children who enter first grade will complete sixth grade. DRC’s Education ranking in Africa 36 out of 54 countries.

Migration

The DRC continues to face many challenges related to migration. The IOM mission in the DRC currently has project activities and offices in the provinces of South Kivu, North Kivu, Province Orientale, and Equateur. IOM DRC assists in the reintegration of migrants after their voluntary return to the DRC. The Organization also plans to assist in the voluntary repatriation of over 43,000 Angolan refugees who wish to return to Angola.

Refugees

Over 826,000 DRC refugees being hosted in African countries (as of 29 February 2019). DRC has long had both economic and humanitarian migration exchanges. African countries host the vast majority of Congolese migrants and refugees, whose numbers have increased significantly over the last four decades, particularly since the wars of the late 1990s and early 2000s.

The Economy

30 bn
GDP in USD
16 %
Agriculture
40 %
Work in agriculture
60 th
In World

Primary Resources

Gold, diamonds, copper, cobalt, coltan, zinc, tin, tungsten, crude oil, wood products and coffee.

Economic structures

The economy of the DRC relies heavily on mining. The Congo is the world’s largest producer of cobalt ore, and a major producer of copper and industrial diamonds. The Congo has 70% of the world’s coltan, and more than 30% of the world’s diamond reserves.

Social, Economic, and Governance indicators

Taken from the Ibrahim Index of African Governance

30 th
Overall Governance
20 nd
Human Development Score
20 th
Sustainable Economic Opportunity score
30 nd
Safety & Rule of Law score

Ranked out of 54 African countries

Gender representation

The DRC improved by +2.6 in the Gender Indicator of the 2018 Ibrahim Index of African Governance

This improvement can be attributed to the introduction of laws on violence against women, gender parity in primary and lower secondary education and women’s political empowerment.

Timeline of important events

1960

Congo became decolonised and independent, Patrice Lumumba named prime minister, Joseph Kasavubu, president.

1965

Joseph Mobutu led Congolese army in bloodless coup ousting Kasavubu and Tshombe, installed himself as president.

1971

Joseph Mobutu renames the country Zaire and himself Mobutu Sese Seko; Katanga becomes Shaba and the river Congo becomes the river Zaire.

1973-74

President Mobutu nationalises many foreign-owned firms and forces European investors out of the country.

1977

President Mobutu invites foreign investors back, without much success; French, Belgian and Moroccan troops help repulse attack on Katanga by Angolan-based rebels. President Mobutu re-elected.

1982

Legislative elections were allowed, but not the formation of opposition parties.

1989

Zaire defaults on loans from Belgium, resulting in a cancellation of development programmes and increased deterioration of the economy.

1990

President Mobutu declared Third Republic, ended ban on multiparty politics, appointed transitional government, retained substantial power.

1991

Unpaid soldiers rioted in Kinshasa, Mobutu agreed to coalition government with opposition leaders, retained control of security and important ministries.

1994

Over one million Rwandese refugees fleeing Rwanda Genocide flooded into Zaire's eastern provinces.

1996

Tutsi rebels capture much of eastern Zaire while President Mobutu is abroad for medical treatment.

1997

Tutsi and other anti-Mobutu rebels, aided principally by Rwanda, capture the capital, Kinshasa; Zaire is renamed the Democratic Republic of Congo; Laurent-Desire Kabila installed as president.

1998

After President Kabila ordered Rwandan military personnel out of the country, the rebels reorganized into militias, backed by Rwanda and Uganda. The militias rose up against President Kabila and advance on Kinshasa. Zimbabwe, Namibia send troops to repel them. Angolan troops also side with President Kabila. The rebels took control of much of the east of DRC.

1999

The six African countries involved in the war signed the Lusaka peace accords. fighting continued, UN sent over 5,000 peacekeepers to monitor the ceasefire.

2000

The fighting continues between rebels and government forces, and between Rwandan and Ugandan forces.

2001

President Laurent Kabila is shot dead by a bodyguard. Joseph Kabila succeeds his father. Joseph Kabila reached agreement for troops from Rwanda and Uganda to pull back, and for the UN troops withdrew.

2002

Eruption of Mount Nyiragongo Volcano devastates much of the city of Goma. Presidents of DRC, Uganda and Rwanda signed a peace deal under which Rwanda and Uganda withdrew troops from the east of DRC.

2003

Peace deal signed in South Africa between Kinshasa government and main rebel groups. A Transitional government was established with new constitution signed which provided for installation of provisional government. Violence in Bunia region caused UN to send in multinational peacekeeping force led by France.

2004

Gunmen attacked military bases in Kinasha in coup attempt. Rebels attempted coup in Bukavu.

2006 February

New constitution comes into force; new national flag is adopted. Warlord Thomas Lubanga becomes first war crimes suspect to face charges at the ICC, accused of forcing children into active combat. Over 50,000 people fled North Kivu Province during clashes between General Laurent Nkunda and UN-backed army. Presidential elections had no clear winner; Joseph Kabila and Jean-Pierre Bemba prepared for run-off. Joseph Kabila is declared the winner of the run-offs.

2007

Government troops and Jean-Pierre Bemba's forces clash in Kinshasa. DRCongo, Rwanda and Burundi relaunch the regional Great Lakes Countries Economic Community (CEPGL). Major outbreak of the deadly Ebola virus.

2008

Conflicts between factions of Hutus, Tutsis, Rwandan militia, Ugandan forces, Congolese army deserters continued in eastern provinces along borders with Rwanda and Burundi. UN Security Council approves temporary increase of troops to bolster the strained UN peacekeeping effort in the east.

2009

DRC-Rwandan military operation held against Tutsi rebels led by Laurent Nkunda. Thousands fled when Hutu militia re-emerged after DRC-Rwanda campaign ended.

2010

$8 billion debt relief deal approved by World Bank and IMF. Paris Club of creditor countries scrap half of DRC's debt.

2011

Amendments to some provisions of the 2006 DRC Constitution, adopted without consultation, compromise or popular referendum, entered into force. Running of the presidential and parliamentary elections. Mr Kabila gains another term. The vote is criticised abroad and the opposition disputes the result.

2012

Warlord Thomas Lubanga became first person to be convicted by ICC, sentenced to 14 years in jail for use of child soldiers. UN accuses Rwanda and Uganda of supplying rebel movement M23 with weapons and support.

2013

Representatives of 11 African countries sign an accord in Ethiopia pledging to help end the conflict in DRC. The M23 rebel group declared a ceasefire ahead of the talks, and its leader Bosco Ntaganda surrenders the following month.3,000-member UN Intervention Brigade deployed to fight and disarm rebels in the east.

2015

Dozens killed in protests against proposed electoral law changes designed to allow President Kabila to remain in power.

2016

A political deal signed between President Kabila's ruling coalition and the opposition to delay the presidential elections until 2018 sees Prime Minister Augustin Matata Ponyo and his cabinet resign.

2017

DR Congo is experiencing a "mega-crisis", with conflict having forced 1.7 million people to flee their homes during the year, aid agencies say.

2018

Main opposition Union for Democracy and Social Progress chooses Felix Tshisekedi as its candidate for the December presidential election. Government asks commissions to look at declassifying parts of Virunga and Salonga national parks, both UNESCO World Heritage Sites, for oil exploration. Environmentalists claim drilling would endanger wildlife and contribute to global warming. Officials declare opposition candidate Felix Tshisekedi the winner of the presidential elections, prompting protests from rival opposition candidate Martin Fayulu of a deal with the government, whose candidate Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary came third.

2019 August

The UN Security Council reiterates its grave concern regarding the Ebola outbreak in the DRC, noting that the World Health Organisation has declared it a Public Health Emergency of International Concern.

History of Peace Processes

Summary of Current Conflicts

Lord's Resistance Army insurgency

The Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), with origins from northern Uganda, is a violent, militant group, led by Joseph Kony. Between 1987 and 2004, it committed heinous and horrendous atrocities in northern Uganda, before extending operations into South Sudan in 1994. Faced with defeat in northern Uganda, and pressure of the Sudan Peace process which culminated into the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) in 2005, the LRA was forced to seek negotiations as a pre-text to relocate its fighters from northern Uganda and South Sudan to new bases in north-eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), in September 2005.

Today, the LRA has become a regional problem, perpetrating grave human rights abuses against civilians in the region, with catastrophic humanitarian consequences. It thrives by intimidating vulnerable populations in remote areas through massacres, abductions, mutilations, sexual enslavement, and brutal indoctrination including forcing recruits, mainly women and children, commit crimes such as burning homes, killings, looting, and raping of victims. These atrocities have induced the internal displacement of about 416,000 civilians and refugees in the region. They have also impeded the delivery of essential services, and undermined governance as well as development in the affected areas. They are also exacerbating the proliferation of small arms and light weapons in the region.

Dispute in Kasai

For the past three years, the Kasai-Central province has been the scene of deadly clashes between the Kamuina Nsapu and the Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (FARDC).

The conflict started in August 2016. After the government refused to recognise former Kamuina Nsapu traditional leader Jean-Pierre Mpandi’s traditional authority, Pandi increasingly criticised government and was killed by government security forces. His death triggered an insurrection of armed gangs against the state in a region that had been relatively peaceful for 60 years.

The conflict has caused the exodus of more than a million people who are displaced within DRC and more than 30,000 that fled to Angola. Almost four million people are in need of humanitarian assistance, including 2.3 million children.

Very quickly, the Kamuina Nsapu armed group started recruiting children from the villages in the region. According to a UNICEF report published in May 2018, 60 percent of the armed group’s members were children.

The army led bloody repression, accusing the civilians of supporting the uprising.

On the ground, there were reports of indiscriminate violence, mass destruction and the use of rape as a weapon of war by both sides.

Dispute in the East

Violence in eastern Congo has its roots in ethnic conflict dating back to the colonial era, which was then aggravated under the thirty-year dictatorship of Mobutu Sese Seko, which began in 1965. The horrific scale of the recent fighting grew out of events beginning in 1994. That year, the genocide of nearly one million Rwandan Tutsis sparked a regional conflagration that came to be known as the “African World War.” After many Hutu genocidaires fled to eastern Congo and threatened incursions back into Rwanda, the Tutsi government of Rwanda led a retaliatory invasion in 1996 that would eventually entangle nearly all of Congo’s neighbours. Sweeping from east to west, Rwandan forces, together with their regional partners and Congolese allies, overthrew Mobutu and installed a new government under Laurent Kabila.

The alliance broke down in 1998 when the new government in Kinshasa turned against Rwanda, ordering Rwandan and other foreign forces out of the country. Regional rebellions emerged, fracturing the country, and local militias sprouted up. Neighbouring countries, divided between those supporting and those opposed to the Kinshasa government, once again invaded.

After several partial agreements, a 2003 peace deal pacified the west, but fighting in eastern Congo continued. Pro-Rwanda rebels from the Congolese Tutsi, or Banyamulenge, populations concentrated in the Kivus clashed with the FDLR, the Rwandan Hutu militia tied to the 1994 genocide, as well as with government soldiers. Other rebel groups, such as the Ugandan Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), have been a target of the UN peacekeeping mission, MONUSCO, for years. The ADF, a small but potent force ensconced in the Rwenzori Mountains on the border with Uganda, has remained a threat and is suspected of carrying out deadly attacks in 2017 and 2018. Meanwhile, a multitude of ethnically based local militias, known as the Mai Mai, have added to the chaos with their opaque networks of shifting alliances.

This conflict has displaced millions, led to massive human rights abuse, involved child soldiers and child labour and the use of sexual violence as a tool of war.

Conflict Intervention

1999

The Lusaka Peace Agreement was signed between the DRC, Angola, Namibia, Uganda, Rwanda and Zimbabwe. It addressed several issues including the cessation of hostilities, establishment of a joint military commission comprising representatives of the belligerents, withdrawal of foreign groups, disarming, demobilizing and reintegrating of combatants, release of prisoners and hostages, re-establishment of government administration and the selection of a mediator to facilitate an all-inclusive inter-Congolese dialogue. The agreement also calls for the deployment of a UN peacekeeping force to monitor the ceasefire, investigate violations with the JMC and disarm, demobilize and reintegrate armed groups.

2002

Peace Agreement Between the Governments of the Republic of Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo on the Withdrawal of the Rwandan Troops from the Territory of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Dismantling of the Ex-FAR and Interahamwe Forces in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

2002

Agreement Between the Governments of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Republic of Uganda on Withdrawal of Ugandan Troops from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Cooperation and Normalisation of Relations Between the Two Countries.

December 2002

All of the major domestic rebel groups come to a power-sharing agreement with the DRC government. The agreement provides for a multistep transition to democracy, beginning with the reunification of the country and the creation of a transitional government that includes representatives of the rebel groups and the political opposition.

March 2009

The central government reaches a peace deal with the CNDP rebels with the goal of converting them into a political party and integrating their fighters into the national army, the FARDC.

February 2013

After the rise of a new rebel group, the M23, the Peace, Security, and Cooperation Framework Agreement between the DRC and ten of its neighbours comes into being. The agreement commits countries in the region to non-interference in DRC affairs after a 2012 UN report found that Rwanda and Uganda continued to support the M23 rebels.

2013

The Kampala Dialogue and Declarations for Peace and Nairobi Declaration for Peace in the Eastern DRC were signed with the M23 rebel group after negotiating their surrender.