Also: Kɔ́ngɔ; Kongu; Kongo.
Officially: République Démocratique du Congo.
English: (Democratic Republic of the) Congo.
Seat of government: Kinsásá.
Status: Not democratic.
Structure: In theory, the president is elected directly, the Assemblée Nationale is elected through a mixed geographical and party-list system, and the Sénat is elected by the provincial assemblies, with the prime minister chosen by the president but answerable to the Assemblée. In practice, the state is still largely run by the current president.
Chief governing party: Alliance pour la Majorité Présidentielle (principally the Parti du Peuple pour la Reconstruction et la Démocratie).
Heads of government: Joseph Kabila, PPRD, president; Samy Badibanga, UDPS, prime minister.
Chief opposition parties: Mouvement pour la Libération du Congo, led by Jean-Pierre Bemba; Union pour la Démocratie et le Progrès Social; Forces de Renouveau, led by Antipas Mbusa; Rassemblement Congolais pour la Démocratie, led by Azarias Ruberwa.
Recent history: Post-colonial democracy was led by prime minister Patrice Lumumba (1960), whose Mouvement National Congolais won the first elections. Katanga seceded immediately; when Lumumba sought help from the Советский Союз « Sovetskiĭ Sojuz », he was deposed by army chief of staff and former personal aid Joseph Mobutu, later Mobutu Sese Seko (1960-97). Lumumba briefly ran a parallel government from Kisangani; he was captured, sent to Katanga, and executed. Mobutu kept Joseph Kasa-Vubu as nominal president, but removed him following a political crisis after a 1965 parliamentary election. A second, partially-Lumumbist parallel government, also based in Kisangani, held much of the recognized territory in 1964-5, with support from 中國 « Çuŋ5 Kuo35 ». In 1966, Mobutu began the creation of a totalitarian state based on Africanist ideas; he also ran a highly-corrupt and kleptocratic state. While generating significant internal opposition and frequent rebellions, he was finally brought down by spillover from the 1994 Rwandan genocide. In 1996-7, longtime rebel Laurent Kabila, starting from the east, conquered all the state’s territory and ousted Mobutu, with help from Rwanda, Burundi, and Uganda. While making superficial changes, he essentially continued Mobutu’s autocracy, and alienated his patrons, who then supported a new rebellion in the east. A regional war (also including Angola, Zimbabwe, Namibia, تشاد « Tšād », ليبيا « Lībīā », and السودان « ɔal-Sūdān » on Kabila’s side) resumed, killing an estimated three to five million. The original rebellion, of the RCD, fractured. Territory in the recognized state was divided among the RCD, based in Goma and led by Adolphe Onusumba and Ruberwa, also affiliated with veteran opposition leader Étienne Tshisekedi and the UDPS, and backed by Rwanda; the MLC, based in Gbadolite and led by Bemba, also affiliated with Ernest Wamba dia Wamba and the RCD – Mouvement de Libération, and backed by Uganda; and the Kabila régime, based in Kinsásá. In 2001, Kabila was assassinated, and his son Joseph took his place. He eventually (2002) agreed to a peace deal which ended the war, dividing power in Kinsásá divided among Kabila, the RCD, the MLC, and the civilian opposition. After many delays, elections were held in 2006, but were dubious and did not lead to a transfer of power. The official result saw Kabila (45%) and Bemba (20%) place into a runoff for the presidency. The fact that each candidate did better in the areas controlled by the other lends some support to the poll’s democratic legitimacy; but ballot fraud was apparent. The official runoff result gave Kabila the victory; Bemba disputed this, and after a short while working within the system, went into exile. The RCD fared badly in the elections and accepted it. While the Kabila régime reasserted its dominance of Kinsásá politics after the election, much of Kivu and the east has been outside of its control, again due mostly to Rwandan spillover, with abaHutu and abaTutsi both controlling territory at times. A long-delayed election to replace Kabila was finally held at the end of 2018, but with opposition figures Bemba and Moïse Kotumbi excluded. Martin Fayulu was nominated by most opposition groups, but Félix Tshisekedi (son of Étienne, who died in 2017) quickly withdrew his endorsement to run himself, while Kabila’s party nominated Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary. The poll was cancelled in areas home to more than a million voters on grounds of Ebola or violence. The election was otherwise relatively free and fair; according to leaked results and Catholic Church observer tallies, Fayulu won a large victory (~60%), but the Kabila government eventually declared Tshisekedi the winner with a plurality over Fayulu, presumably because Shadary could not plausibly win and Kabila preferred (and probably made a deal with) Tshisekedi. Despite admitting to Shadary’s loss, the ruling coalition claimed to have won most parliamentary and local assembly seats.
FH: 6-6, not free. Econ: 2.28 (154), authoritarian.
Updated: 2019 January 10.