The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) heads to the polls on December 20. The country’s history of corruption, election irregularities, and fraud casts a shadow of doubt over the integrity of the vote, and the absence of a single credible contender worries observers who believe a united front is the only viable chance to challenge incumbent President Félix Tshisekedi. Even so, it is unclear whether the results would reflect the will of the Congolese people. The election unfolds against a tumultuous backdrop of widespread violence in the eastern region, human rights abuses in the mining industry, the departure of two international peacekeeping forces, and the European Union’s withdrawal of its election observation mission. Fragile hopes for a lawful election linger amidst these pressing concerns.
A transparent, inclusive, and peaceful electoral process and independent electoral institutions — namely the National Independent Electoral Commission (CENI), whose independence is regarded with mistrust — are critical. On December 18, the Brookings Africa Security Initiative hosted a conversation with policy experts on what to watch for during the pivotal days preceding the election, the significance of the vote for peace and prosperity in the DRC and the region, and the appropriate international response based on the results.
PanelistsJoseph Mulala Nguramo Nonresident Fellow - Freedom and Prosperity Center, Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security, Atlantic Council
ModeratorMichael E. O’Hanlon Director of Research - Foreign Policy, Director - Strobe Talbott Center for Security, Strategy, and Technology, Co-Director - Africa Security Initiative, Senior Fellow - Foreign Policy, Strobe Talbott Center for Security, Strategy, and Technology, Philip H. Knight Chair in Defense and Strategy