• Election-related violence surges

    Latest update: 13/10/2016

    Probability

    Highly unlikely Highly likely

    Outlook for September 2016 – February 2017

    The DRC government’s actions to keep President Kabila in power threaten national cohesion and stability. In the coming months, the crisis is likely to manifest itself into: a surge in election-related violence in major urban centres, such as Kinshasa, Lubumbashi, Goma, Bukavu, and Mbuji-Mayi. Protests will lead to further state repression, and an intensification of clashes between opposition supporters and the police.

    Since 2015, protests related to President Kabila’s attempts to remain in power beyond his constitutionally mandated two-term limit in December have taken place in the capital Kinshasa, Lubumbashi, capital of the former province of Katanga, and Goma, capital of Nord-Kivu.

    The government response to protests has been heavy handed: teargas was fired on a demonstration on 24 April, and since then protests have ended in clashes between opposition supporters and the police. However, protests persist, and the government crackdown has grown. Election-related human rights violations, including summary executions, death threats, arbitrary detention, and restrictions on freedom of expression and freedom of assembly have all increased since 2015. Opponents of President Kabila have been subjected to arbitrary arrest and prolonged incommunicado detention.

    Those resisting Kabila’s attempts to remain in power include the ‘old’ opposition around Etienne Tshisekedi and his Union for Democracy and Social Progress (UDPS), with a large support base in Kinshasa, and the ‘new’ opposition supporting Moïse Katumbi. The opposition has sought unity, but continues to struggle over whether to present a single candidate in an eventual election.

    External pressure on the DRC government is mounting. The UN Security Council has extended its arms embargo, asset freeze and travel ban until July 2017, and has expressed concern over the arbitrary arrest of opposition supporters and has urged President Kabila to hold elections by the end of the year. Governments, including the United States, have raised the possibility of imposing economic sanctions should national elections fail to take place this year.

    In August, President Kabila sought the support of Rwandan and Ugandan leaders for prolonging his stay in office. President Kabila has reportedly sought to revitalise relations with the two countries. With resistance mounting in eastern DRC, Kabila is counting on Rwanda’s military support to help contain Kinyarwanda-speaking opponents.

    MONUSCO, the UN stabilisation mission in DRC, is planning to create mobile teams to monitor human rights and political issues in Kinshasa, Lubumbashi, and Goma, in order to improve early warning of election-related violence. It is also reviewing its military and police deployments.

    Predicted developments

    Demonstrations, expressions of popular anger, and violence is expected

    As the electoral deadline approaches, further demonstrations, expressions of popular anger, and violence are expected, leading to further state repression. Armed clashes between the police and opposition supporters are likely to intensify in Lubumbashi, as well as Kinshasa, Goma (Nord-Kivu), and Mbuji-Mayi (Kasai-Oriental). Fighting between regime loyalists and opposition supporters is likely to flare up unexpectedly. Arbitrary arrests, detention of opposition party members, and bans on demonstrations are likely to increase. The international community is likely to further pressure President Kabila to step down in December, via embargos and economic sanctions.

    Impact

      Election-related violence, such as arbitrary arrests, detention of opposition party members, and bans on demonstrations, is likely to increase in the coming months. The government is likely to use excessive force to crack down on members of the opposition and opposition supporters. Violations of the rights to freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly will increase. Restrictions on opposition parties and civil society groups is likely to intensify.  

      Armed violence is likely to disrupt access to clean water and sanitation services, and to damage already poor infrastructure, constraining access to clean water in Lubumbashi and other urban centres. Citizens will have to fetch untreated water from rivers and open wells, increasing the risk of waterborne diseases.?

    5.9 million people are severely food insecure across the country (IPC Phases 3 and 4). ?Political instability is likely to weigh on economic growth, and lead to inflation and higher commodity prices.??Armed clashes are likely to hamper harvesting and negatively impact food security. The population is dependent on imports from Zambia, but high levels of food insecurity in Zambia mean imports have fallen, leading to decreased food availability and increased prices.? Flooding in the October-June rainy season may also destroy crops and impact food security.

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  • Armed violence intensifies in former Katanga province

    Latest update: 13/10/2016

    Probability

    Highly unlikely Highly likely

    Outlook for September 2016 – February 2017

    Former Katanga, now separated into four provinces: Lualaba, Haut-Lomami, Tanganyika, and Haut-Katanga  

    The DRC government’s actions to keep President Kabila in power threaten national cohesion and stability. In the coming months, the crisis is likely to manifest itself into greater instability and armed violence in the former Katanga province, as the Katangan elite mobilise armed groups for their political ends. Inter-ethnic clashes between the Luba and Twa communities are likely to intensify in the territory bounded by the towns of Manono, Mitwaba, and Pweto.

    President Kabila’s fortunes are very much tied to the stability and prosperity of Katanga, with a significant proportion of DRC’s political elite hailing from the former province. Kabila is a Katangan native, and Katangans currently hold eight of 37 ministerial posts, including the strategic and lucrative ministries of infrastructure, mines, and finance.

    But the stability of the region is in doubt: Katangans are convinced that national power should remain in their hands, and their frustration with Kabila is growing, leading to dangerous polarisation. Some are aggrieved at the perceived failure to return to the region a fair share of the wealth it generates. If the Katangan elite cannot keep control of resources by maintaining its grip on central power, it will push to hold on to more resources at the provincial level: according to the constitution, Katanga should retain 40% of the national revenue it generates, but the government has only every remitted a tiny proportion of this requirement. 

    Tensions have been fuelled by the politicised implementation of decentralisation. Katanga has been separated into four provinces, which is fostering competing individual ambitions and strengthening the perception that the north, in particular, is being neglected. Kabila holds strong Luba support, as well as a base in the southern Lualaba province.  

    In addition, Katumbi, President Kabila’s main political opponent, is a former governor of Katanga. The DRC government increased repression and augmented its military presence in the province after Katumbi left the ruling majority in 2014 and expressed his opposition to Kabila remaining in power. In May, when Katumbi announced he would run for the presidency, a warrant was put out for his arrest, and so far at least 27 of his associates have been arrested in Lubumbashi.

    Politicians are feeding the sentiments of armed groups in the region, and using armed groups to apply pressure to the central government. The Bakata Katanga is an armed network that claims to defend the region against exploitation by Kinshasa, and it reportedly has ties with small secessionist organisations. Both local and international actors consider that the Bakata Katanga receives significant support from certain DRC officials at the local, provincial, and national levels, some of whom hold genuine secessionist views, while others see the Bakata Katanga as an insurance policy in the eventuality that President Kabila remains in power.

    In recent months, the Bakata Katanga has been active in Mitwaba, attacking, and burning down Twa villages. Interethnic conflict between the Twa (pygmy) and Luba has persisted since 2013, and concentrated in the ‘triangle of death’. Since August, clashes between Twa and Luba communities have intensified in Tanganyika. It is not known what first sparked the hostilities, but many analysts have pointed to the longstanding marginalisation of the Twa throughout Central Africa.

    The situation is further complicated by armed groups that usually operate in Nord-Kivu and South-Kivu, whose presence in Katanga is increasing, attracted by the region’s resources. Mayi-Mayi Yakutumba and the FDLR (Forces démocratiques pour la liberation du Rwanda) operate in Tanganyika province, areas of Haut-Katanga, and Haut-Lomami.

    Predicted developments

    Katangan elites are expected to mobilise armed groups and networks for their political ends

    Katangan elites are expected to mobilise armed groups and networks for their political ends, leading to an intensification of armed violence in the region. The Bakata Katanga will likely increase activities. Violence between the armed forces of the DRC (FARDC) and Bakata Katanga is expected, and will most likely be concentrated in the Shamwana/Kishale area, and around the ‘triangle of death’. The activities of other armed groups, including the FDLR and the Mayi Mayi Yakutumba, will also increase.

    Inter-ethnic tensions are likely to escalate in the former province
    Inter-ethnic tensions are likely to escalate. The Bakata Katanga are likely to launch more attacks on Twa civilians, which will escalate tensions between Luba and Twa. In recent months, Twa have faced discrimination from other ethnic groups in the area. Clashes between Twa and Luba will likely be concentrated around Tanganyika and the ‘triangle of death.’ Existing tensions between the richer and poorer parts of Katanga are also likely to intensify.

    Impact

    Armed clashes will likely lead to civilian casualties as well as grave human rights violations such as rape and mutilation by armed groups and the FARDC.?Women and children who collect water from remote sources are likely to face the risk of abuse and violence by militias and armed groups.

    A large number of children are expected to face severe acute malnutrition. From 2011 to 2014, armed group activity in the former Katanga was particularly high, and in 2014, an estimated 75,000 children in the Katanga conflict zone faced severe acute malnutrition.?Bukama territory in Haut-Lomami is likely to show signs of serious nutritional crisis: in 2014, severe acute malnutrition reached 4.8% after violence escalated.? The nutritional status of children under five, and pregnant and lactating women, will most likely exceed emergency thresholds in Manono, Malemba, Nulu, Kambove Nyunzu and Kabalo.?

    Armed violence is likely to disrupt access to clean water and sanitation services, and to damage already poor infrastructure, constraining access to clean water in Lubumbashi and other urban centres. Citizens will have to fetch untreated water from rivers and open wells, increasing the risk of waterborne diseases.?

    An intensification of armed violence in former Katanga will likely affect school enrolment. In 2014, over 49 schools were destroyed or burned during violence in the former province, and many children had to flee their communities.? Schools in the area will most likely be used to host IDPs, affecting the ability of children to attend school.

    Lack of infrastructure is already hindering humanitarian access. The upcoming rainy season (October–June) will further degrade main roads between Lubumbashi (Tanganyika) and Mitwaba (Haut-Katanga), and Lubumbashi and Bukama (Haut-Lomami), and around Pweto (Haut-Katanga).??Escalation of violence in Katanga is also likely to prompt evacuations of humanitarian staff. Humanitarian access will be likely hampered in towns should airports or major roads be closed due to armed clashes. Armed clashes will also hinder the ability of affected populations to access basic services.

    A large wave of displacement is expected once fighting breaks out in former Katanga. When violence escalated over 2011–2014,  IDP numbers in Katanga rose from 50,000 to 500,000. The displaced usually fled with few belongings and their needs were high.? Urban displacement is likely to be temporary and occur only in case of intensive clashes in urban centres. Flooding during the October-June season, is expected to be worse than the previous rainy season, worsening the conditions of the displaced.?

    Houses and public buildings will likely be destroyed, should violence in Katanga escalate. Displaced people will need shelter.   

    5.9 million people are severely food insecure across the country (IPC Phases 3 and 4).? Political instability is likely to weigh on economic growth, and lead to inflation and higher commodity prices.?? Armed clashes are likely to hamper harvesting and negatively impact food security.? In former Katanga, harvesting takes place from February to March. Following the most recent rainy season, approximately 40,000 people were at risk of food insecurity in the territory between Pweto, Mitwaba and Manono, due to extreme flooding and rains as a result of an El Nino year.? The population is dependent on imports from Zambia, but high levels of food insecurity in Zambia mean imports have fallen, leading to decreased food availability and increased prices.? Flooding in the October-June rainy season may also destroy crops and impact food security.

    Access to healthcare in Katanga, already poor, will be further hampered by armed clashes. The rainy season (October–June) will likely exacerbate the cholera outbreak and the disease is likely to spread along the Congo river from former Katanga to Kinshasa. The response to yellow fever in Kwango, Kinshasa, and Kongo-Central will likely be constrained should violent clashes occur in Kinshasa. Katanga was badly affected by measles last year (most of the 40,000 cases were in former Katanga), and reduced access to healthcare, as well as poor living conditions, will facilitate another outbreak.? Civilians may be unable or unwilling to seek medical care at hospital or clinics, if insecurity increases. ?

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