Congo on the Edge

  • Nobel Peace Prize Laureate on Sexual Violence in the DRC

    On January 28, the Atlantic Council’s Africa Center hosted Dr. Denis Mukwege, founder and medical director of Panzi Hospital and 2018 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, for a discussion on the use of rape and sexual violence as a weapon of war in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

    Introducing the distinguished guest, Atlantic Council Vice President and Africa Center Director J. Peter Pham highlighted the magnitude of Mukwege’s work over the years, treating more than 85,000 women and girls since 1999 – 50,000 of whom have been survivors of sexualized violence – and doing so with a unique combination of medical treatment, psycho-social support, community reintegration, legal assistance to pursue justice, and advocacy.

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  • Congo’s Election Sham

    Joseph Kabila’s reluctant withdrawal from the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s December 23 presidential election, after seventeen years in power, was supposed to be a big victory for democracy.

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  • Congo’s Conflict Gold Trade: Recent Findings and Recommendations for the Future

    On October 24, the Atlantic Council’s Africa Center partnered with The Sentry at the Enough Project to host a discussion on the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC)’s conflict gold trade, occasioned by the release of the group’s new report: The Golden Laundromat.

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  • Below the Surface, a Game Changer in Congolese Politics

    “Shikata,” or “remain seated” in Swahili, claim the posters on Congolese President Joseph Kabila’s effigy in the streets of Lubumbashi. But while everyone’s attention is focused on the regime’s contortions to stay in power, despite constitutional impediments to doing so and deep domestic discontent, the 2015 break-up of Congo’s existing provinces has upended politics below the surface with far-reaching consequences for the current regime and potentially destabilizing effects for whomever inherits the state come the end of this year (assuming that elections that have been repeatedly postponed actually take place on schedule this coming December 23).

    One of the reasons for the increase from eleven to twenty-six provinces was to break up Katanga and deprive its governor, key Kabila opponent Moïse Katumbi, of his provincial base. Beyond such political expediency, however, this policy’s main effect has been to create ethnically homogeneous provinces. As Alma Bezares Calderon,...

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  • Congolese Opposition Unify Ahead of Presidential Elections

    Democratic Republic of the Congo opposition leaders Moïse Katumbi and Felix Tshisekedi are on a US and European tour to lobby for further sanctions against the regime of President Joseph Kabila and for continued Western pressure towards free and fair elections, scheduled for December. They have formed an alliance which, they hope, can unite the opposition against the regime. But their strategy remains hampered by the apparent superficiality of their coalition and the likelihood that any election under the current regime will be flawed.

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  • Discussion with the Congolese Opposition

    On Wednesday, May 23, the Atlantic Council’s Africa Center hosted a discussion with Mr. Moïse Katumbi Chapwe, former governor of Katanga Province and leader of Ensemble pour le changement, a new political movement in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), and Mr. Félix Tshisekedi, president of the Union pour la démocratie et le progrès social (UDPS), the DRC’s oldest continuously operating political party.

    In their remarks, Katumbi and Tshisekedi announced that the Congolese opposition would field a unified candidate in the presidential election scheduled for December 23, 2018. Incumbent Joseph Kabila, whose constitutionally-mandated two-term limit expired over eighteen months ago, has twice delayed elections. Katumbi stressed that the Congolese opposition is united and working together for a brighter future, citing his joint visit to the United States with Tshisekedi as an example of their cooperation....

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  • Roundtable Discussion with Moïse Katumbi

    On Thursday, February 16, the Atlantic Council’s Africa Center hosted Moïse Katumbi, joint opposition candidate for the presidency of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and former governor of Katanga Province, for a roundtable discussion on the evolving political situation in the country.
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  • DRC's CENCO Agreement: A Foundation for Real Political Transition?

    On Wednesday, January 18, in partnership with the Enough Project, the Atlantic Council’s Africa Center hosted a discussion on the political situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and the impact of the recent political deal brokered by the National Episcopal Conference of the Congo (CENCO). Discussants included Atlantic Council Vice President and Africa Center Director J. Peter Pham; Pierre Englebert, professor of international affairs and politics at Pomona College, and author of Congo Blues: Scoring Kabila’s Rule; and Sasha Lezhnev, associate director for policy at the Enough Project.

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  • Africa’s Economic Prospects in 2017: Ten Countries to Watch

    The continued failure of commodity prices to recover significantly and the global slowdown of economic growth, especially in China and other emerging markets, made 2016 a tumultuous year for many African economies, indeed, “the worst year for average economic growth” in the region in over twenty years, according to a report from Ernst & Young. Compounding these trends, varying dynamics within the continent’s biggest economies meant that Nigeria slipped into recession while South Africa barely lurched forward with anemic 0.2 percent growth in the third quarter....
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  • In the DRC, Joseph Kabila Kicks the Can Down the Road

    Joseph Kabila, the president of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), is unlikely to abide by the terms of an agreement that aims to end his fifteen-year rule and ensure the DRC’s first-ever democratic transition of power, said J. Peter Pham, director of the Atlantic Council’s Africa Center.

    “Miracles can happen and I guess, in the Christmas spirit, one wants to acknowledge the possibility, but I would not wager” that Kabila will keep his end of the bargain, said Pham, who also serves as vice president for research and regional initiatives at the Atlantic Council.

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