Unemployment is widespread. A large proportion of Congolese people have their livelihood outside the formal economy. Many live on farms for self-catering, illegal mining, smuggling in border areas or street sales in cities. Reckless exploitation of child laborers in dangerous mines, especially in rebel-controlled areas, is common. Child labor occurs throughout the informal sector, as well as in the agricultural sector.
- According to ABBREVIATIONFINDER, DRC stands for the country of Democratic Republic of the Congo in geography.
The Congo National Workers Union (in French abbreviated to UNTC) has long been the only trade union. Only in 1990 did it become possible to start free trade unions. Then was officially formed the Democratic Workers Federation (CDT), which had previously been illegal. There is also a Christian country organization, the Congo Trade Union Federation (CSC). All three central organizations are affiliated to the International Trade Union Federation (IFS).
Although the law guarantees fundamental trade union rights, authorities and corporate executives often ignore the agreements they themselves have signed. Strikes are not rarely fought and union activists are arrested. Trade union organized workers can easily be laid off and replaced with day laborers.
- COUNTRYAAH: List of key population facts of Democratic Republic of the Congo, covering most basic population data, religion statistics, and language profiles.
In recent years, trade unions have been financially strengthened through foreign aid, which has facilitated their work to engage new groups, such as urban market sales people. At the same time, the support has strengthened the divide, as many unions have links with churches or political parties.
FACTS – LABOR MARKET
4.3 percent (2019)
8.0 percent (2019)
Queues and delays characterize election day
Despite all fears to the contrary, Election Day is largely calm when the Congolese go to the polls to appoint a new president, a new national parliament and regional assemblies. 21 candidates take part in the election, but three candidates are believed to have the best chance of winning the government’s Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary and opposition candidates Martin Fayulu and Félix Tshisekedi. Frustration and major delays occur at many polling stations when the new electronic voting system fails but only occasional violent incidents are reported, including in South Kivu where a policeman and a civilian are killed in connection with a quarrel outside a polling station. It is expected to take at least a week before the election results are ready. The Election Commission has previously announced that the results of the presidential election will be announced on January 15. Both the government side and the opposition claim that they have won the presidential election. The day after the election, the authorities shut down internet connections. It is also not possible to send sms. The government justifies the measures it needs to avoid unrest. Broadcasts from the French radio channel RFI have also been stopped and its Congo correspondent loses its accreditation for working in the country. Campaign organization for Martin Fayulu claims that it is because their candidate won the election with clear numbers. At the same time, Félix Tshisekedi is accusing the government of creating chaos, with the aim of trying to stay in power. Several observers report that irregularities occurred during the election. The Catholic Church group says at least about 100 of its observers have been denied access to polling stations. Representatives of another group, Symocel says 20,000 of its observers have been harassed. There are also reports from the UN that militants are forcing voters in certain areas of Nordkivu to vote for the government side. However, the Election Commission and the government argue that the election was conducted under fair terms. For the result seeJanuary 2019 .
The elections are postponed in some regions
The Election Commission announces that the upcoming presidential and parliamentary elections to be held on December 30 will be postponed to March in areas affected by local violence or the outbreak of Ebola. This applies to certain areas in the province of Nordkivu in the east and the province of Mai-Ndomde in the west. Although the elections are postponed in these areas, the results of the presidential election will be announced on January 15, the election commission states. The postponement of the elections means that around one million of the country’s 40 million eligible voters cannot vote in the presidential election. The message from the Election Commission triggers unrest in the affected areas.
Ethnic violence in western Congo-Kinshasa requires hundreds of lives
Contradictions between the batandu and banunu people in Mai-Ndombe province in the north-western part of the country demand hundreds of lives (initially 82 deaths were mentioned. Later, UN investigators spoke of 890 dead, of which at least 535 have been confirmed). According to sources the news agency Reuters spoke to, tensions over the election have triggered the violence. The baton leaders support the governing alliance while banana leaders are behind the opposition. By the end of the year 2018/2019, around 16,000 people are estimated to have moved to neighboring Congo-Brazzaville.
The election is postponed to December 30
The Election Commission announces that the election is postponed for seven days to December 30. An important reason for this is that 8,000 election machines that would be used in the Kinshasa area have been destroyed in a fire. Opposition candidates have suggested that the government may have been behind the fire, in order to get a sweeping reason for moving on the election. Others have pointed out supporters of opposition candidate Martin Fayulu. According to some sources, this designation can be a way to get him disqualified as a candidate after the election. Yet others question whether the devastation really became as great as the authorities say.
Election meetings are prohibited
The authorities prohibit all elections from 19 December. It happens on the same day that Fayulu would have held a meeting in Kinshasa. He and his campaign workers are not allowed to enter the capital. The police also deploy tear gas to hundreds of Fayulus supporters gathered to welcome him.
At least one death when opposition supporters clash
At least one person is killed and over 80 injured when supporters of two opposition candidates, Félix Tshisekedi and former Education Minister Maker Mwangu, meet in Tshikapa in the Central Kasai region. About 20 people are arrested. The death victim is said to be a young supporter of Mwangu who is seriously injured when Tshisekedi followers throw stones at him.
Kabila says she wants to continue in politics
In an interview with a number of foreign journalists, President Joseph Kabila says he intends to remain in politics and suggests that he may run in the next presidential election in 2023. The president’s critics accuse him of trying to cling to power and Kabila and his family have built up great fortunes during his time in power, something he himself denies. The Reuters news agency has revealed that much of the revenue from the sale of new Congolese biometric passports, which cost the equivalent of $ 185 apiece, does not go to the state, but to the Belgian company that produces them and to a company in the United Arab Emirates whose owners believe to be a close relative of Kabila.
The UN Commissioner for Human Rights condemns election violence
UN Human Rights Commissioner Michelle Bachelet condemns the violence of the security forces against the opposition. This happens after at least six opposition supporters were killed during the past week. She calls on the authorities to ensure that everyone’s rights to freedom of expression and assembly are respected. Embassies in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom and Switzerland also express concern over recent violence.
Electoral machines are destroyed by fire
13th of December
Two-thirds of the electronic voting machines that would have been used in the Kinshasa area have been destroyed in a fire in a depot. According to the authorities, it is an incendiary fire. The opposition has previously accused the government of wanting to use the election machines, purchased from South Korea (see April 2018), to manipulate the election results. Representatives of the Election Commission say that the election will nevertheless be carried out as planned. At the same time, it is reported that a teenage boy was shot dead by police when he was to attend a general election for President FélixTshisekedi in the city of Mbuji-Mayi in the Central Kasai region.
Several dead in connection with elections
Two people are killed and about 40 injured when police intervene in an election meeting for presidential candidate Martin Fayulu in Lubumbashi in the eastern part of the country. It reports activists to the British BBC and claims 15 people have gunshot wounds. According to police, two people were injured and no fatalities were required. The day before, two people were killed in clashes between police and Fayuluan supporters in the town of Kalemie near Lake Tanganyika. Fayulu had previously complained about being barred from holding elections in Lubumbashi.
Ten dead in massacres in the Beni region
At least ten people are killed in the city of Oicha in the Beni region in the eastern part of the country. The ADF-Nalu guerrilla, which has its roots in Uganda, is suspected of the act.
EU extends sanctions against Shadary
The EU decides to extend sanctions against Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary, the government alliance candidate in the upcoming presidential election, and 13 others suspected of serious human rights violations. The sanctions against Shadary were introduced for the role he has played in violent attacks against the opposition during his time as Minister of the Interior. The EU has both frozen the financial assets it has in Europe and introduced a travel ban.
At least 17 dead in violence in Nordkivu
The ADF-Nalu guerrilla is suspected of two attacks in North Kivu, near the city of Beni, which requires at least 17 lives. Twelve of the victims are killed in Mangolikene on the outskirts of Beni, and another five people lose their lives in the Paida area. According to analysts, it is in many cases unclear whether it is ADF-Nalu who is behind the murders, robberies, kidnappings and other acts of violence for which the Congolese military accuses them.
Colonel arrested for involvement in murder of UN experts
Colonel Jean de Dieu Mambweni is arrested by a military tribunal and charged with involvement in the murders of two UN experts, American Michael Sharp and Swedish-Chilean Zaida Catalán, and their Congolese counterparts in spring 2017 (see March 2017). The two experts were in Kasai to investigate acts of violence committed in the region. Several international media, including the Mission Review Program in SVT, drew attention to the act in a program broadcast in November, in which the UN is accused of withholding information that Congolese security services were involved in the murders.
Tshisekedi and Kamerhe make a pact before the election
Félix Tshisekedi from UDPS and Vital Kamerhe from UNC agree on a puppy pact. If Tshisékédi wins the presidential election, he will nominate Kamerhe as prime minister and also support a candidate from UNC in the presidential election in 2023. Kamerhe, for his part, supports Tshisekedi’s candidacy in the December elections. Other opposition leaders, including Jean-Pierre Bemba and Moïse Katumbi who were not allowed to run for office, hold on to Martin Fayulu as their presidential candidate.
Opposition cooperation is bursting
Already after a day cracks occur in the united front of the opposition, when Félix Tshisekedi from UDPS and Vital Kamerhe from UNC withdraw their support for Martin Fayulu. This happens after opposition supporters gathered in Kinshasa to protest against the election of a candidate. Both Tshisekedi and Kamerhe refer to dissatisfaction among their party’s grass roots as they motivate their decisions. The resistance in UDPS and MLC’s youth organizations is particularly fierce. Another opposition politician, Freddy Matungulu, regrets their resignation and says he believes that it is not possible for the opposition to defeat Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary and the government alliance in the December elections.
Martin Fayulu becomes the opposition’s presidential candidate
Seven opposition leaders agree at a meeting in Geneva, Switzerland, to stand with a joint candidate in the December 23 presidential election. They appoint 61-year-old Martin Fayulu, sitting in parliament, but are usually seen more as a businessman than a politician. Fayulu is a former oil company manager (Exxon Mobil) and is trained in France and the United States. He comes from the Lingala-speaking western part of the country and leads a small party. The opposition should also have agreed on a joint political program, and put in the election under the name Lamuka (Awakening, in both Swahili and Lingala) .
Government-critical archbishop retires
Laurent Monsengwo Pasinya, Archbishop of the Catholic Church and one of the government’s foremost critics, leaves his post at the age of 79. New Archbishop becomes Fridolin Ambongo.
Tens of thousands gather to support Shadary ahead of the presidential election
About 50,000 Congolese gather to show their support for Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary, the government’s candidate in the December presidential election. The mass meeting shows that the government alliance can gather so many people for meetings, despite the great dissatisfaction that exists with Joseph Kabila’s rule.
Thousands march in opposition protests
Thousands of opposition supporters are demonstrating in Kinshasa, Bukavu, Goma and Bunia against the new electronic devices to be used in the December elections. The protesters fear that the government will be able to exploit them to cheat a rolling victory. The manifestations, which for the sake of unusualness have been given the permission of the authorities, can be implemented without the intervention of the security forces.
The opposition promises to appoint a joint candidate in November
Congo-Kinshasa’s opposition parties will present a joint candidate in mid-November. This is stated in a statement from an opposition meeting in South Africa, involving at least three opposition candidates, Martin Fayulu, Vital Kamerhe and Freddy Matungulu. Even Félix Tshisekedi, from the UDPS, the former vice president Jean-Pierre Bemba and Moïse Katumbi have sent representatives to the meeting .
300,000 Congolese migrants are forced to leave Angola
About 300,000 Congolese migrants are now reported to have been forced to leave Angola. Most people have given up after the violence that should have taken place in the mining town of Lucapa earlier this month (see October 9, 2018). According to the Reuters news agency, half the city’s population has been forced to flee and many have had their homes looted. At least six people have been killed. Until now, Angolan authorities have not intervened against the migrants who have made an effort to dig for diamonds. The influx of returning migrants is expected to further contribute to the already strong tensions ahead of the December elections and damage Congo-Kinshasa-Angola relations. Angola maintains that the Congolese migrants have left Angola voluntarily. UN Refugee Agency UNHCR appeals to Congolese authorities to assist those affected, who are in a vulnerable position.
At least 14 dead in violent acts in the east
At least 14 people are killed in several acts of violence in the northeastern part of the country, precisely in the area most severely affected by the virus disease Ebola. Most victims, eleven civilians and one soldier, in the town of Beni in North Kivu. Five miles south, in the city of Butembo is killed by two medical officers in the government army. Who is behind the attacks is not clear, but suspicions are directed at the Islamist ADF-Nalu and Mai Mai militia in the area.
Harassment of journalists is increasing
Five journalists from AfricaNews are arrested and released after twelve hours of interrogation. The five are invited to return later together with their boss Achille Kadima. Journalists have published articles that an internal investigation has been initiated by a foreclosure business at a police school. Kadima has previously criticized the police for driving around and collecting AfricaNews from the newsstands. After the arrests, he and about 10 other employees join the newspaper underground. The head of the country’s police academies, General Celestin Kanyama, should also have been interrogated. The United States has imposed sanctions on Kanyama and accuses him of leading police operations in 2013 and 2014, when at least 50 young men and boys were killed, and another 30 disappeared without a trace. According to the Congolese journalist union, at least 20 journalists have been arrested and subjected to harassment in the past year. The week before, for example, Sylvanie Kiaku, editor of the weekly newspaper La Percée, was arrested in Kinshasa accused of slander. Among other things, she had written about employees at a major bank that did not receive their salaries and the consequences it has had for them.
Ifoku accuses the government of preventing her from leaving the country
Marie-Josee Ifoku, the only woman among the 21 presidential candidates, accuses the government of preventing her from leaving the country. She says she was stopped earlier this week from visiting Brazzaville and that her colleague was arrested by security forces at the same time. Ifoku also claims to have received threats and was invited to stand behind Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary’s candidacy.
Clear agreement on hydropower development
Congo-Kinshasa, a Chinese company and a Spanish, will agree to expand the hydropower in the Congo River. The project, No 3, is estimated to cost nearly $ 14 billion. When the new dams are ready, they are expected to generate as much electric power as three nuclear power plants.
Concern about ebola spreading to neighboring countries
Ebola virus disease continues to reap life in eastern Congo-Kinshasa. From August 1 to now, 139 people have died in the disease and 251 cases where people have been infected or are believed to have been infected. The outbreak of the disease is not yet considered an “international threat to human health” (Public Health Emergency of International Concern, PHEIC), but there is concern that the disease will spread to neighboring Uganda and Rwanda. However, several actors point out that more must be done to prevent the spread of infection.
Angola expels thousands of illegal migrants to Congo-Kinshasa
Angolan authorities say they have sent back 180,000 people who were illegally located in Angola to Congo-Kinshasa. According to local media and NGOs, 10 people have been killed in connection with this. An Angolan people group tshokwe, too, according to witnesses told by the news agency Reuters, was subjected to violence. The intervention must have been particularly violent in the city of Lucapa, about ten miles south of the border. Angolan police deny this, saying that the Congolese migrants, suspected of involvement in diamond smuggling, have voluntarily returned to their home country.
Presidential candidate wants sanctions against him to be lifted
Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary, presidential candidate for the governing alliance of the FCC, calls on the EU to lift the sanctions against him and some 10 other high-ranking Congolese people. Ramazani Shadary says that the sanctions against him and the others are humiliating and disproportionate, and that the EU, through the measures, interferes in the Congolese elections. The EU will decide whether the sanctions should be renewed almost two weeks before the elections in Congo-Kinshasa on 23 December. The EU imposed its sanctions on Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary in 2017 for human rights crimes committed during his time as Minister of the Interior, when several people who protested against Kabila’s government were shot dead by security forces.
At least 14 killed in attacks in Nordkivu
At least 14 people are reported to have been killed in a machete attack on residents of the village of Rubaya, about six miles north of North Kivu’s capital Goma. Another nine people are injured. A hutumilis called Mai Mai Nyatura is said to be active in the area. Almost daily there are reports of murders, rapes, mutilations and other abuses against the civilian population in North and South Kivu, which is one of the country’s most violent areas.
Nobel Peace Prize for the care of rape victims
Gynecologist Denis Mukwege from Congo-Kinshasa receives the Nobel Peace Prize 2018. At his hospital in Bukavu, near the Rwanda border, Mukwege has treated thousands of women who have been subjected to sexual violence during a protracted civil war. He shares the prize with Yazidian Nadia Murad from Sinjar in northern Iraq. After surviving rape and torture herself in the hands of IS warriors, she has appeared in the role of activist against rape as a weapon of conflict.
Democracy activists are sentenced to prison
Four activists from the Filimbi youth movement (whistle in Swahili) are sentenced to one year in prison for calling for protests at the end of 2017 against Kabila refusing to give up power. The four, Carbone Beni, Grace Tshiunza, Mino Bopomi and Cedric Kayembe, are convicted of civil disobedience. Carbone Beni, who is the group’s coordinator, must have been badly beaten while in custody. A fifth defendant is acquitted by the court.
At least 18 dead in attack on Ebola-affected area
At least 18 people, of whom 14 civilian and four government soldiers, are killed when rebels, believed to belong to the Ugandan Islamist movement ADF-Nalu, attack the city of Beni in North Kivu in the eastern part of the country. It is located in the area that has been affected by the virus disease Ebola since August. In Beni, with hundreds of thousands of inhabitants, people gather to protest the lack of security in the city.
The verdict against Bemba is fixed
The ICC decides that a previous verdict against former Vice President Jean-Pierre Bemba for bribing witnesses is firm. However, he does not have to serve the one-year prison sentence because of the time he has already spent in jail. Bemba Å is also sentenced to pay a fine of € 300,000 for bribing witnesses during the legal proceedings against him. He was sentenced in 2016 for war crimes and crimes against humanity , but was released in June 2018 by the ICC Court of Appeal . Bemba says he should appeal today’s verdict.
Security forces stop election protests
Security forces intervene violently against the Luar Movement, which protests outside the Electoral Commission’s office in Kinshasa against the electronic equipment to be used in the December election, which Democratic activists fear will allow cheating. Similar protests occur in Goma and Bukavu in the east. A total of 60 people are arrested, most of whom were released after a short time in detention.
At least 75 dead in Ebola in eastern Congo-Kinshasa
At least 75 people in the Beni region of North Kivu have died of the virus disease ebola. The disease has also spread to the nearby Ituri province. For the first time, new drugs are used in the treatment of patients. Continued violence in the area makes it more difficult to fight the disease and discover new disease cases.
Bemba is not allowed to stand in the presidential election
Former Vice President Jean-Pierre Bemba, three former prime ministers (Adolphe Muzito, Antoine Gizenga and Samy Badibanga) and the only woman in the starting field, Marie-Josée Mputa Mpunga, may not stand in the December election. It informs the Election Commission. In Bemba’s case, it justifies its decision that the opposition politician has been convicted by the ICCfor bribing witnesses, even though he was released from more serious crimes. In the opinion polls conducted in July, Bemba was in third place ahead of the presidential election. For Badibanga and Mputa Mpunga, it is now that they are citizens of another country (dual citizenship is not allowed in Congo-Kinshasa), Gizenga for inter-signing the application document and finally Muzito for his party Palu claiming that he is not theirs candidate. All the failed candidates appeal the decision to the Constitutional Court. The Court determines the Election Commission’s decision, with two exceptions. Marie-Josée Mputa Mpunga and Samy Badibanga are now allowed to run for office.
Kabila waives re-election
President Kabila announces that he will not run for re-election, ending months of speculation. Kabila supports former Interior Minister Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary, who thus becomes the government alliance FCC’s presidential candidate. 58-year-old eight-year-old father Shadary is seen as a fierce loyalist to Kabila and is one of those who were subject to sanctions by the EU in May 2017 for human rights violations when Shadary as minister was responsible for the arrest of oppositionists and the security forces’ violence against protesters who demanded Kabilas departure.
Katumbi is stopped at the border
Opposition politician Moïse Katumbi is trying to get to Congo-Kinshasa to register as a candidate in the presidential election. He tries to enter via Zambia but stops at the border. The Congolese judiciary points out that Katumbi is charged with damaging the state’s security interests (see May 2016) and that he will be arrested if he returns. Katumbi then gives up attempts to enter the country.
Bemba registered for the election
After eleven years abroad, former Vice President Jean-Pierre Bemba Gombo arrives in Kinshasa to register his candidacy in the presidential election to be held on December 23. Former militia leader Bemba was sentenced to 18 years in prison for war crimes by the International Criminal Court (ICC) in 2016 but was recently released by an appellate unit (June 2018). Bemba has been sitting in a cell in The Hague since 2008 awaiting trial, and has thus served ten years in prison. After registering, Bemba travels to Brussels with the message that he intends to return in September to start his election campaign. Bemba represents the Congo Liberation Movement (MLC).
The Ebola outbreak is over according to the government
As no more cases of Ebola have been reported over a period of 42 days, Health Minister Oly Ilunga in an official statement announces that the latest outbreak of the virus is over. The outbreak, which was the ninth since 1976, began in early May and claimed the lives of 33 people.
Concern that new media law should silence critical voices
The government announces a tightening of the rules for the media that publish themselves online. The new law, issued by the Ministry of Communications via decree , says it wants to counter hate crime, fake news and cyber crime. The web sites must also register with the authorities. Those convicted of crimes can be sentenced to fines or 15 days imprisonment or more. Press freedom and human rights organizations express concern that the law should be used to silence critical voices. There are now a number of independent news sites in the country that reach a large audience. Most of the traditional media is owned by politicians.
Clear sign for oil drilling in national parks
The government is giving a clear sign to allow companies to drill for oil in the Virunga and Salonga national parks. Both parks are on the UN agency UNESCO World Heritage List. In Virunga there are, among other things, endangered mountain gorillas and dwarf chimpanzees . Salonga has the world’s largest rainforest after the Amazon. The British oil company Soco International has conducted some tests at Virungaparken, but has since expired the license.
The trial against Katumbi is postponed
The trial of opposition politician Moïse Katumbi was postponed until October, according to the Supreme Court for technical reasons. The case against Katumbi, which is being tried in his absence, concerns accusations that he was involved in recruiting mercenaries and thus threatened the country’s internal security. Katumbi intends to stand in the presidential election in December and several hundred of his supporters gather outside the court, accusing the court of harassing Katumbi. They also describe the message as political.
Militia on UN black list for crimes against children
Two Congolese armed groups are put on the UN black list of organizations that do not respect children’s rights in war. The Bana Mura militia is charged with rape and other sexual assaults and kidnapping of children, while Kamwina Nsapu militia recruits and exploits bosom attacks schools and hospitals and forcibly removes children. Both groups are active in the Kasai region. In addition, UN Human Rights investigators are accusing both security forces and militia groups of crimes against humanity and other war crimes in the same area. At the same time, the country’s Catholic bishops are appealing for help to the children in the area who otherwise risk starving to death during the dry season.
“At least $ 15 billion disappears every year for corruption”
Each year, the equivalent of about $ 15 billion in corruption disappears, according to President Kabila’s adviser on anti-corruption issues. That is about three times as much as the entire state budget. However, a former prime minister claims, according to the AFP news agency, that the figure of $ 15 billion is taken from the air. In Transparency International ‘s index for 2017, Congo-Kinshasa is ranked 160 out of 180 countries.
The National Assembly is considering new law to protect ex-presidents
The National Assembly and Senate are called for an extra session which will last until July 19. Among other things, they will take a position on legislation that will provide protection to the country’s former presidents. According to media reports, this will be done at the request of President Kabila. This is interpreted as yet another sign that Kabila is not going to try to stand in the December elections.
Anti-Kabila activist dies on fire
Luc Nkulala, an activist from the Fight for Change (Lucha) group in Goma, perishes in a fire his followers believe has been set on fire. Nkulala was one of the founders of Lucha, which works to strengthen democracy and opposes Kabila’s continued hold of power. The group is now calling on the authorities to investigate the circumstances surrounding Nkulala’s death.
The government announces a new electoral coalition
The Congolese government announces that it has formed a new electoral coalition called the Congo Common Front (Front Commun pour le Congo, FCC) whose task is to gather forces around a candidate in the election. President Kabila is reportedly to act as the new group’s “moral” leader. Shortly thereafter, Prime Minister Bruno Tshibala states that Kabila will not run for office in the presidential election and that the election will be held as scheduled on December 23.
ICC freezes Bemba
Jean-Pierre Bemba, the former Vice President of Congo-Kinhasa, who in 2016 was sentenced to 18 years in prison by the International Criminal Court (ICC)) is now released by the Appellate Unit. Judge Christine Van den Wijngaert argues that Bemba cannot be held personally liable for the crimes committed by his rebels in the Central African Republic in 2002–2003 and that the previous sentence had not taken into account his attempt to stop the abuses. However, the court does not agree, two of the five judges oppose the free judgment. Human rights organizations deplore the liberating verdict. Bemba, who has been in prison for 10 years, has also appealed against him for bribing witnesses. Prosecutors are asking him to remain in jail until that sentence is served, but he is released the week after he is released from court. However, he is requested not to contact any witnesses or discuss the case publicly. He must also notify the court where he is.
10s dead in violence in eastern Congo-Kinshasa
24th of May
The Mai Mai militia attacks a gold mine in eastern Congo-Kinshasa, operated by Banro Corp., killing at least five people. According to witnesses, the militia tries to take foreign personnel at the mine as hostages, but fails. At the same time, the army is reported to have killed about 10 suspected members of the Ugandan ADF guerrilla in a raid against the group in Nordkivu. This happened after the ADF killed ten civilians earlier this week near an army posting in the town of Mbau.
“Poverty causes children to join militia groups”
Most children who join armed groups in Congo-Kinshasa do so freely, but also because they cannot see any other options. This is claimed by the organization War Child in a new study done in North and South Kivu. By joining a militia group, the children hope to escape poverty, food shortages, unemployment and violence, the study says.
At least 44 suspected cases of Ebola
At least 23 people are suspected to have died in the infectious viral disease ebola. In total, at least 44 people are believed to have been infected. The outbreak starts this time in Bikoro, an inaccessible area in the northwestern part of the country, but has also spread to the big city of Mbandaka, 13 miles further away, where at least one disease case has been reported . This is of concern because Mbandaka is an important junction with river traffic to the capital Kinshasa. It is also the first time a case of Ebola has been reported in a major Congo-Kinshasa city. The World Health Organization WHO says 50 experts will work with Congolese authorities to prevent the spread of the infection. 4,000 doses of an experimental vaccine are sent to the affected area.
Virunga is closed to tourists
15th of May
Congo-Kinshasa closes Virunga National Park for tourists since two British were kidnapped there in mid-May. A guard in the park is killed as she tries to stop the kidnappers. Later it is announced that the park will be closed until 2019.
Around 400,000 children are at risk of dying from starvation in Kasai
Around 400,000 children in the Kasai region are at risk of starving to death if they do not receive help soon, the UN warns. The UN Children’s Fund has appealed for $ 88 million for relief efforts in the area.
UN experts criticize Congolese security agencies for preventing murder investigation
UN experts investigating the murders of Swedish Zaida Catalán and American Michael Sharp (see March 2017) accuse representatives of the Congolese security apparatus of interfering in their work. A legal process against twelve people who have been identified as being involved in the death has been initiated, but was suspended indefinitely in October 2017. In addition, 14 people are tried in their absence. The UN experts criticize, inter alia, that they have not been able to meet witnesses or take part in the hearings that have been conducted. In August 2017, UN experts pointed out militants in Kasai for having been behind the murders, but the lack of evidence did not exclude the fact that others may also have been involved.
Warlord is convicted of war crimes
A military court sentenced Lieutenant Maro Ntumwa (also known as the Moroccan) to 20 years in prison for war crimes, including sexual slavery, looting and attacks on civilians, and crimes against humanity , including rape. The crimes were committed in South Kivu between 2005 and 2007, when Ntumwa was one of the commanders of a Mai Mai militia.
The UN believes it has discovered new mass graves in Ituri
26th of April
The UN reports that it has discovered what are believed to be five mass graves in Ituri province. At the end of 2017, the violence between the home and the lenders flared up in Ituri. According to relief organizations, the unrest has forced some 300,000 people to flee, and nearly 300 people have been killed in the Djugu area. Most of the victims are believed to belong to the home people. However, in the spring of 2018, the situation has calmed down. Competition for land has triggered the violence between livestock farming and agricultural land. The authorities say they are not aware of any mass graves and emphasize that they have not received any information from the UN.
First legal opposition demonstration since 2016
In Kinshasa, a few thousand supporters of the opposition party UDPS gather in a demonstration. This is the first time since September 2016 that an opposition party has been authorized by the authorities to demonstrate. At the same time, reports come from the eastern part of the country, where the police intervened against government-critical demonstrations in Beni in North Kivu and in Kisangani.
Over 200 judges are dismissed
250 judges are dismissed or suspended from their positions by President Kabila after allegations that they have pleaded guilty to corruption or proved to have no law degree.
Over $ 500 million is raised at donor conference
At a donor conference in Geneva, $ 528 million is raised for humanitarian efforts in Congo-Kinshasa, which is about a quarter of the amount the UN believes is needed. However, there has been a stir that the Congolese government did not participate in the conference and accused the UN of exaggerating the crisis in the country.
The opposition criticizes the election commission
The political opposition criticizes the Ceni Electoral Commission, which it considers does not take its job seriously. The five opposition parties also oppose the election to be conducted electronically. Ceni says the choice must be made with electronic help in order for it to be monitored. The information has been posted on a South Korean company. However, the South Korean Election Commission says there is no guarantee that the system will work.
Félix Tshisekedi is named presidential candidate for UDPS
Félix Tshiseked, son of former opposition leader Étienne Tshisekedi, is named presidential candidate for the Union for Democracy and Social Progress (UDPS) at a party meeting in Kinshasa. He is also assigned to lead the party, he receives 790 of the 803 votes. According to a recent poll, 80 percent of Congolese say they have a negative image of President Kabila, and 69 percent distrust the electoral commission.
The UN expands Monusco’s mandate
The UN Security Council commits Monusco to help the Congolese authorities prepare for the December 23 elections. At the same time, the Security Council extends the mandate for Monusco until March 2019. The decision is unanimous. However, Russia emphasizes that the UN force must not choose sides in the elections. However, the UN ambassador to Congo-Kinshasa objected to the decision, stressing that the UN’s task is to fight rebel groups and create peace in the eastern part of the country. Later, Congolese Foreign Minister Léonard She Okitundu says that the UN forces want to leave the country by 2020.
Two arrested for the murder of UN experts
24th of March
Vincent Manga, leader of Kamwina Nsapu (sometimes spelled Kamuina Nsapu) and a policeman (unnamed) are arrested on suspicion of the murder of Swedish UN expert Zaida Cátalan and her US counterpart Michael Sharp in March 2017 in Kasai-Central province. The suspects were handed over to a military court in Kananga.
Free Trade Agreement in Africa
Congo-Kinshasa is one of 44 countries to sign a Free Trade Agreement at the African Union Summit in Rwanda. The agreement must be ratified at the national level before the AFCFTA free trade area can become a reality, but it is seen as a historically important step towards increased trade exchange within Africa.
Former anti-corruption chief is sentenced to death by military court
Former head of South Kivu’s anti-corruption authority Abbas Kayonga and 13 others are sentenced to death for rioting and murder at a military court in Bukavu. Kayonga was arrested in the fall of 2017, by UN soldiers just days after he was dismissed for neglect in the service. An earlier attempt to arrest him triggered violence that required at least six lives. Since no executions are carried out in Congo-Kinshasa, the sentence is converted to life imprisonment. The convicted have no right to appeal against the judges.
UN: The humanitarian situation is getting worse
The UN calls for more money to help people in Congo-Kinshasa. Mark Lowcock, who leads UN humanitarian efforts in the country, tells the UN Security Council that about $ 1.7 billion is needed this year to fund the UN humanitarian program. He paints a bleak picture of the situation. In one year, the number of internal refugees has increased from 2.3 million to 4.5 million. 13 million people are in need of humanitarian aid, of which just under 5 million are children. In addition, the country has suffered from the worst outbreak of cholera in 15 years (at least about 100 people have died). Later, Bernard Biango, Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, claims that the figures are exaggerated and that the number of internal refugees amounts to just over 230,000. Biango also confirms that the government will not attend the donor conference called by the UN and the EU in Geneva on April 13 to raise money for humanitarian work in Congo-Kinshasa.
The UN Human Rights Commissioner criticizes the country’s security forces
The UN Human Rights Commission accuses Congolese military and police of killing at least 47 people, including women and children, in connection with political protests from early 2017 until now, and then hiding the corpse to conceal their crimes.
At least 30 people killed in ethnic violence in Ituri
the 13th of March
Between 30 and 40 people are killed in new clashes between the homeland and Lendu people in eastern Ituri province. The attackers use bows, machetes and automatic weapons, but also set fire to houses. According to local sources, the latest attack is about revenge for similar acts that were carried out at the end of February / March. This means that at least 130 people have been killed in Ituri since the violence resurfaced in late 2017. According to a local group, CIK, which brings together people from both groups, the actual death toll is significantly higher. It is unclear what caused the violence to flare up in Ituri now, but old disputes surrounding land give fuel to the conflicts. The fact that there are no functioning local authorities that can mediate between the parties makes it difficult to end the spiral of violence.
Moïse Katumbi on his way home to take part in the presidential election
the 12th of March
Opposition politician Moïse Katumbi announces that he plans to return to his home country to take part in the presidential election by the end of the year. Katumbi traveled to South Africa in the spring of 2016 to receive care, but he had previously been accused of hiring foreign mercenaries to recruit young Congolese to a new militia force. The purpose would be to try to overthrow President Kabila. He has also been sentenced to prison in his absence, accused of selling properties he himself did not own.
New mining law strikes against foreign companies
President Kabila signs a new mining law, which means that companies operating in the country have to pay more in royalties and taxes. Parliament gave its approval in January 2018. The foreign mining companies that have been operating in the country have opposed the new law which they believe will lead to a reduction in investment in the country and that it contravenes already signed agreements. Kabila promises that the government will negotiate with the companies on how the legislation will be applied. As a result of the new law, royalties for metals that are considered strategically important can be more than quadrupled.
Convicting verdict against Bemba in bribery case is fixed
Former Vice President Jean-Pierre Bemba was sentenced in 2017 for bribing witnesses in connection with the ICC legal process . The judges of the ICC Court of Appeal dismiss his appeal. He and four other people are being convicted again for bribing 14 of the defense witnesses to lie for his cause. Judgment will be announced in September.
Botswana strongly criticizes Kabila
Botswana criticizes President Kabila, saying that, by his refusal to resign, he is responsible for the humanitarian crisis and the deteriorating security of the country. This is the first time an African country has criticized Kabila so sharply. At the same time, reports show that at least 22 people, including 15 civilians, have been killed in two days in ethnic violence in Nordkivu.
Security forces kill two protesters in opposition protests
At least two people are killed and dozens injured when security forces fire protesters near a Kinshasa church. The demonstration, in which participants protest against President Kabila’s refusal to leave power, has been organized by the Catholic Church.
At least six dead in fighting between Congolese and Rwandan army soldiers
Struggles break out in the eastern border between Congolese government troops and Rwandan soldiers. At least six Congolese soldiers are killed. Both countries accuse the counterparty of having invaded their territory.
UN: 18 new cases of suspected sexual abuse
The UN says that the organization has registered 18 cases where UN personnel are suspected of sexual abuse or sexual exploitation of civilians. According to Monusco’s Discipline Committee, 14 of the cases apply to paternity goals, where women seek financial assistance to take care of their children.
New unrest in Ituri
According to local authorities, at least 30 people have been killed in new violence between the Hema and Lendu people in the Ituri province in the northeast. Another 100 people must have been injured in the unrest and upwards of 200,000 must have been displaced (of which more than 30,000 have moved across the border to Uganda since the beginning of the year). Several houses have been set on fire, and according to testimony from refugees in Uganda, more and more violence has been directed at the civilian population. Tensions have been high for a long time, although relatively calm after the war of 1998 to 2003. According to the UN Children’s Fund Unicef, at least 76 people have been killed in ethnic violence in Ituri since December. Most of the victims have been women and children. 70 villages should also have been burned down.
Tanzania extradites rebel leaders
A defunct Congolese colonel, John Tshibangu, who openly demanded Kabila’s departure is extradited by the Tanzanian authorities to his home country, where he is to face trial and risks being sentenced to death. In a film that aired online in January, he gave Kabila 45 days to leave power, and if not, Tshibangu’s forces would march against Kinshasa. Tshibangu was stationed in Kasai until 2012, but deserted and has since been mostly located in the eastern part of the country.
New UN sanctions against suspected war criminals
The UN is imposing sanctions on General Muhindo Akili Mundos, a close ally of President Kabila. From August 2014 to June 2015 he was responsible for the Congolese army offensive against the rebel movement ADF-Nalu, which committed several massacres in which a total of 400 civilians were killed. Mundos is accused of not intervening to protect the civilian population. Another three people were put on the UN sanctions list: Militia leader Guidon Shimiray Mwissa, who is accused of recruiting child soldiers, and Lucien Nzambamwita of the FDLR hutumilis and Gedeon Kyungu of the militia Bakata Katanga, who are suspected of serious human rights violations.
Ceni: “46 million voters have been registered
Election Commission Ceni announces that it has now completed its work of registering just over 46 million voters ahead of the upcoming election. What remains now is the registration of Congolese citizens living abroad.
New tensions between Kinshasa and Brussels
Belgian criticism of the security forces’ strike against the opposition creates tensions between Congo-Kinshasa and the former colonial power. The Kinshasa government announces a stop to the new Belgian aid agency Enabel’s operations in the country, as well as the “consulate” for 17 EU countries and Norway, which handles visa applications for Congolese to the Schengen area. This has been happening since Belgium on January 10 marked that the country’s support for Congo-Kinshasa will be affected unless new and credible elections are held. The EU has also harshly criticized Kabila.
Violence continues to increase
Several reports come that militia groups in the east have joined forces to jointly fight Kabila and the government army. According to a spokesman for the Patriotic Front for the Liberation of the Congo (UPLC), rebels from North and South Kivu have joined his alliance. At the same time, observers point out that these groups are not primarily driven by any political goals, but that many of the conflicts in the East are about disputes over land and similar matters. Unrest in opposition protests in Kinshasa has led the UN force Monusco to send soldiers there to try to protect civilians, which has caused irritation to Congolese authorities. At the same time, Monusco has sharply criticized the government for the large number of extrajudicial executions that state actors are suspected of. These are 1,176 executions (of which at least 89 are women and 213 are children) that the UN force mentions in its 2017 annual report. This is a threefold compared to 2015. According to Monusco, almost 6,500 cases of serious human rights violations have been committed in the country in 2017, if all the parties to the conflict are included.
134 convicted of massacres in Nordkivu
A military court sentenced 134 people – rebels from ADF-Nalu, militia groups, local leaders and civilians – for massacres of 800 people near the city of Beni in North Kivu between 2014 and 2016. 42 of the defendants are sentenced to death, many of them in their absence . A New York University research group, the Congo Research Group, claimed in a 2017 report that high ranking officers in the government army had supported and in some cases organized the murders.
Several dead in protests against Kabila
Opposition supporters are gathering in several parts of the country to demand President Kabila’s departure. At least three people are killed in Kinshasa when security forces intervene to disperse protesters. Another three people were shot dead in connection with the protests, at least about 50 injured and dozens of people arrested. In addition to the protests in the capital, it is reported that protests have erupted in Kisangani, Bukavu, Goma, Mbuji-Mayi and Lubumbashi , among others . The demonstrations have been announced by the Catholic Church, which has called for peaceful protests against Kabila remaining as president despite his term expiring and in violation of the agreement signed by the government and opposition at the end of 2016.
Lack of security triggers protests in South Kivu
Residents of the town of Kamanyola in South Kivu object to no more being done to guarantee their safety. It is mainly young people who take part in the protests, which start after a money changer is murdered in their home. An administrative building is destroyed, and protesters try to set the police station on fire.
The Catholic Church criticizes Kabila
During Sunday’s Kinshasa Cathedral, Cardinal Laurent Monsengwo Pasinya and other Catholic leaders strongly criticized President Kabila. The fair is also a memorial to those killed by security forces on New Year’s Eve 2017 (see December 2017). This time the security forces fire warning shots and insert tear gas at the church visitors. The Catholic Church calls for new protests against Kabila’s rule on January 21.
Offensive starts against ADF-Nalu
The Congolese army launches an offensive against the ADF-Nalu rebel movement in the eastern part of the country. It is done in collaboration with Uganda, which previously directed air and artillery field at ADF-Nalu bases on the Ugandan side of the border. The group is suspected of killing 15 Tanzanian UN soldiers and injuring about 50 in an attack on a UN mission in Nordkivu at the end of 2017 (see December 2017).
UN criticism of defeat against opposition protests
UN Head of Peacekeeping Operations, Jean-Pierre Lacroix, criticizes Congolese security forces for violent strikes against the opposition’s peaceful protests at the end of 2017 (see December 2017) and calls on the authorities to prosecute those responsible for the violence. At least five people were killed in connection with the strike.
Special investigations are added on the death of UN soldiers
The UN is launching a special investigation to find out who was behind an ambush on UN troops in Nordkivu at the end of 2017, when 15 UN soldiers from Tanzania were killed (see December 2017).