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Country Reports

The Democratic Republic of the Congo before the election

The Democratic Republic of Congo with its 100 million inhabitants votes in December - an opportunity and a challenge

On 20 December 2023, the people of Africa's second largest country, which has been ravaged by crises, mismanagement and war, will be called upon to take part in a mega-event: they will simultaneously elect the President of the Republic, the 500 members of the National Assembly, the representatives of the 26 provincial parliaments and, for the first time, the members of the municipal councils (city councils). President Félix Tshisekedi, the country's former beacon of hope, is standing for re-election. The presidential candidates all come from the well-known political class. However, the opposition candidates are primarily criticising the current government and the election process. Political parties in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) are rarely guided by traditional ideological or democratic principles; they are often linked to tangible economic interests. In the past, there have been repeated cases of unrest after elections - in a country the size of Western Europe.

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After almost five years in office, President Tshisekedi of the Union pour la démocratie et le progrès social (UDPS) has to stand for re-election. His appointment as president was the first peaceful transfer of power in the history of the Central African country - albeit due to controversial election results. This year's elections are therefore seen as a critical test for democracy in the DR Congo. The nationwide focus is primarily on the electoral commission Commission électorale nationale indépendante (CENI) and whether the institution will this time succeed in organising a credible election in order for the new or old president to be inaugurated on 20 January 2024 - a mammoth task given the enormous size of the country and its desolate infrastructure.

Even though over 900 parties are contesting the election, the prospects for Tshisekedi and his party alliance are promising, partly due to the electoral system and partly due to the (still) fragmented field of opposition candidates. In addition, the president has the entire state power apparatus at his disposal, has expanded his political influence in the five years of his first term of office and has successfully emancipated himself from the power structure of his predecessor Joseph Kabila.


The full-length country report is here available as a PDF. 

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Jakob Kerstan

Portrait Jakob Kerstan

Head of the Congo Office and Project Manager of the EU co-financed project "Great Lakes Youth Network for Dialogue and Peace" +243 81 8801787


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