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Instability in Central Africa



Congolese General Election

On December 20, 2023, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) conducted a contentious general election, resulting in the re-election of Felix Tshisekedi with the Independent National Electoral Commission (CENI) stating his reception of over 70% of the vote. Overall, the election had a turnout of over 40%. However, the opposition raised concerns even before the election results about irregularities in the voting process, expressing doubt on Tshisekedi's lead and called for a rerun after the publication of the results. The opposition also claimed that their own vote count placed the opposition leader Moïse Katumbi in the lead, adding complexity to the post-election situation.

Reports also indicated logistical challenges including undelivered election kits, delayed or unopened polling stations, and instances of violence faced during the election which compounded a smooth electoral process. This lead to the extension of the election to a second day, which has been classified illegal by Civil Society Organizations and local observers. In some areas where there were issues with opening the polling stations the election process went on until Christmas Eve. The Independent National Electoral Commission (CENI) had promised smooth and fair elections a month prior.


Violence in the East

The general elections lead to the unfolding of heightened tensions in the East of the country, particularly amid strained relations with Rwanda. The East is characterized by a complex political landscape and historical conflicts. The already intricate situation escalated as tensions between the DRC and Rwanda added another layer of complexity. Post-elections, conflicts surged in the Eastern region of North Kivu, involving clashes between the National Army of Congo and the M23 rebel group. Rwanda is accused of supporting the rebellious faction and inciting security tensions between the two nations. The rebels have now surrounded Goma, the largest city in the East home to 2 million people.


International Response

There has been limited response from the international community to the developments and risk of escalated conflict in the region. The United States has been using its diplomatic heft, to try to get Rwanda to withdraw its troops and Congo’s government to tone down its inflammatory rhetoric and stop co-operating with a militia linked to leaders of the genocide who had fled Rwanda.
On the other hand, Britain gave Rwanda more than 150 million dollars in aid in 2022, to push through a deal to deport asylum-seekers there. The French have given the country a whopping 545 million dollars in aid since 2021 for its role in helping the French fight jihadists who threaten a large French gas project in Mozambique. The UN, which wants to pull its peacekeepers out of Congo, has failed to even name Rwanda as being behind attacks on its blue helmets.
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