- Longtime President Joseph Kabila and his ruling FCC coalition will retain significant influence after they reached a power-sharing agreement with the winner of the DRC’s presidential elections, opposition leader Felix Tshisekedi. The FCC’s large majority in the incoming parliament will limit Tshisekedi’s ability to shape policy and secure Kabila’s influence over the armed forces and his business interests.
- There is a heightened risk of unrest in opposition strongholds as leading opposition figures reject the provisional results, which contradict polling data and results from observers. However, divisions between various opposition parties will likely undermine attempts to mobilise a coordinated and sustained nationwide protest movement.
- Leaked election data indicates opposition candidate Martin Fayulu won the most votes, but his legal challenge is unlikely to succeed due to Kabila’s influence over the judiciary. Western governments have expressed concern over the results but appear unlikely to intervene so long as Kabila leaves power.
The 30 December elections marked a turning point in Congolese politics after President Joseph Kabila’s 18-year rule. In power since 2001, Kabila agreed to step down from office in 2018 after delaying general elections twice since December 2016, when his second mandate was due to end. The delays triggered waves of violent unrest nationwide in 2017 and 2018, as well as leading to diplomatic tensions between the DRC and the West. The three main contenders in the 30 December elections were Kabila’s designated successor, Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary and two opposition candidates Martin Fayulu and Felix Tshisekedi, whose running mate is former Kabila ally Vital Kamerhe.
Contested election result raises prospect of Tshisekedi-Kabila deal
Felix Tshisekedi’s provisional victory in the disputed 30 December presidential poll raises the prospect of Kabila retaining significant influence over the new government. On 10 January, the Independent National Electoral Commission (CENI) declared Tshisekedi the winner of the presidential poll with 38.57 percent of the vote, ahead of rival opposition leader Martin Fayulu, who secured 34.83 percent, and ruling coalition candidate Emmanuel Shadary who received 23.84 percent of the vote. CENI also announced partial results of the legislative election, which saw the pro-Kabila coalition, the Communal Front for Congo (FCC), claim to have secured 350 of 500 seats in the National Assembly. CENI did not disclose the party affiliation of the winners.
Tshisekedi’s victory is likely the result of an unofficial deal with Kabila rather than the outcome of a legitimate election. Kabila reportedly held talks with Tshisekedi to relinquish the presidency in exchange for an FCC parliamentary majority as it became clear that his favoured candidate, Shadary, would not win. After decades in offices, Kabila is seeking to protect his influence, which includes a vast patronage network that extends to relatives and allies. Tshisekedi, in turn, would not have held an influential position in a Fayulu-led government, which would have prominently featured long-time Kabila-opponents Jean-Pierre Bemba and Moise Katumbi.
International and local observers have said CENI’s results are implausible and marred with irregularities, further supporting reports that the result is the outcome of negotiations between Kabila and Tshisekedi. The influential Catholic National Episcopal Conference of Congo (CENCO) deployed 40,000 election observers and concluded Fayulu was the clear winner, in line with pre-election polls, according to Reuters, the New York Times and the Financial Times. The discrepancy has also led the French, Belgian and US governments to question the results.
The contested and unexpected result increases the likelihood of unrest in the coming weeks, as illustrated by violent protests in Kikwit and Kisangani. However, mass, nationwide protests are unlikely. The Constitutional Court ruling on Fayulu’s legal challenge is set to spur further isolated protests in his strongholds in Bandundu and North Kivu provinces. However, assuming Kabila leaves office, the election of opposition leader Tshisekedi is likely to reduce the risk of widespread mass unrest after years of violent protests calling for political change.
Kabila’s strong influence over the Congolese judiciary will presumably prevent Fayulu from successfully contesting the election results in court. Fayulu could seek to organise protests and mobilise international pressure on the government but Tshisekedi’s victory has divided an already fractured opposition, diminishing its ability to organise mass unrest. The international community is also unlikely to support Fayulu’s bid given Kabila’s departure and the election of an opposition candidate being viewed as a significant achievement, regardless of electoral fraud allegations.
While Tshisekedi will likely assume the presidency, his power will be limited by an FCC-controlled parliament, which will result in regulatory and policy continuity in the DRC. In this scenario, the Kabila-controlled FCC will set the legislative agenda. The prime minister, appointed from within the FCC ranks, will also need to approve the appointment of all high-ranking officials, including personnel at state-owned enterprises. Kabila is also expected to retain his influence over the armed forces and has refused to rule out running in the 2023 election, signaling he is likely to remain an influential political figure for the foreseeable future.
Your free global geopolitical
PGI’s Risk Portal tool provides daily intelligence feeds, country threat assessments and analytical insights, enabling clients to track, understand and navigate geopolitical threats.
The Risk Portal gives users up-to-date information and analysis on global affairs.
The Risk Portal allows users to visualise information in a unique and instantly understandable way. Mapping filters enable the visualisation of incidents by threat category, time period, perpetrator and target type.
Risk Portal users can upgrade their accounts to include the Report Builder and Country Profile Generator features. The Report Builder allows users to select information, data and images from the Risk Portal and create bespoke reports and emails.
Subscribers to PGI’s Bespoke services receive tailored analysis on specific sectors and geographies of interest, delivered at a frequency they determine.
Making ongoing compliance easier for you and your business
GDPR is now in force. Make sure your business meets the necessary requirements, providing assurance for all of your customers and employees.
A full audit of your business to assess the level of your compliance against GDPR requirements.
Become GDPR compliant with minimal work. We will conduct an analysis, review, report and implement any necessary changes to your business.
We will conduct simple security assessments to help you understand and mitigate the potential risks to your business.
Get your business ready to face the cyber challenge.
We provide a full range of accredited, certified and bespoke services that assess the resilience of your cyber security posture.
PGI’s Qualified Security Assessors (QSA) will help you meet Payment Card Industry Data Security Standards (PCI DSS).
Find out more on PCI DSS
Demonstrate your commitment to cyber security by achieving and maintaining accreditation for the globally-recognised information security standard.
Find out more on ISO 27001
Understand the threats of phishing and malware to avoid being targeted.
Undertake our phishing vulnerability assessment to reduce your organisation’s risk of attack, by measuring the cyber awareness of your workforce.
PGI will conduct a tailored phishing campaign, using multiple methods, to identify realism and train employees where necessary to mitigate future attacks.
PGI monitor multiple metrics to identify the types of phishing, generate in-depth analytical reports and provide an informed decision to help improve your organisation’s level of security and awareness.
Prevent attacks, respond to breaches and protect your business.
Our bespoke range of cyber security services not only protect your critical assets but provide the education you need to keep your operations and data safe.
Implement this cost-effective cyber security measure launched by the government to prevent cyber-attacks, demonstrate information security commitment to your clients, and attract new business by being recognised as a secure organisation.
Find out more on Cyber Essentials Accreditation
The most effective way to identify how attackers target your organisation’s weaknesses is by evaluating your system, your network security, and reporting on any vulnerabilities that could have an impact on your business.
Find out more on Penetration Testing
If your business has experienced breaches, network compromises or operational disruption, our team of cyber security specialists can deploy quickly, and will begin the process of detecting and eliminating the threat efficiently.
Find out more on Data Breach Response & Recovery
Data Breach Response & Recovery
We prevent attacks, respond to security breaches, and protect your business
Our team of specialists can deploy quickly and efficiently to begin the process of detecting, eliminating and preventing future threats of a breach.
A vital part of the response process is making a copy of your data for safe forensic analysis. We will work with you to preserve and use this evidence to discover the extent of an intrusion.
Find out more on Digital Forensics
We will identify and minimise the risks, as well as the possibility of future risks to your business.
Consistent interaction with your management team and recommendations on how to approach all outcomes that need attention.
Subscribe to our Cyber Bytes Newsletter
Keep yourself in the loop with PGI by signing up to our Monthly Cyber Bytes email. You will receive updates, tips and narrative around what has been happening in the world of information security.