DRC, between power struggle and the refugee crisis

Felix Tshiseked during 2018 elections Felix Tshiseked during 2018 elections Photo by Stefan Kleinowitz on EPA

28 April 2021

The Democratic Republic of Congo is facing a difficult situation, between a severe refugee crisis and a continued power struggle. 

The first problem, as underlined by an April 23 United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) report, must be attributed to the inclusion policies adopted by the new government of President Felix Tshisekedi, who succeeded long-time ruler Joseph Kabila. The flow of refugees essentially concentrates in the country’s northern region, the one bordering the Central African Republic (CAR), from where the majority of refugees come. The efforts of Grandi and the entire UNHCR are essentially directed towards relocating the flow of refugees in the DRC’s southmost regions, where they will have access to free land for cultivation, schools for their children, and, overall, a secure place to live. Moreover, Grandi met with the president of DRC to discuss the issues at stake, thus securing Tshisekedi’s purported support in the process.

On the other hand, though having shown itself as a very generous and friendly country, Congo has some serious internal issues, which concern the legitimation of the government and the highest political authorities. In this sense, such problems have to be read in the light of power succession. After former ruler Kabila resigned in January 2019, Felix Tshisekedi who is a son of the late Etienne Tshisekedi – Kabila’s old enemy and a popular opposition stalwart – won the general elections in December 2018, but immediately had to face a very uphill battle against Kabila. In 2020, however, despite continuous dissensions and unwelcome acceptances of Kabila allies’ actions, Tshisekedi announced his intentions for a major series of actions aimed at reinforcing his party’s control over government bodies, thus successfully, and also quite incredibly, managing to win the consensus of almost 400 out of 500 members of the National Assembly. This way, though formally never making a proper and effective transition towards separation from the coalition government, he won in his struggle to reinforce control over government branches, amidst a refugee crisis.


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Author: Pasquale Candela ; Editor: Shrabya Ghimire

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