The United Nations stressed that it is “seriously concerned by the continuing crisis and its impact on the populations’ survival” since violence in the Kasaï provinces intensified. Indeed, an estimated 500 to 3000 people have been killed and nearly a million are displaced. When a tribal leader – who the national government refused to endorse – was killed during protests, the conflict in the Kasaïs was inflamed. Being a regional stronghold of the opposition, the conflict reflects both local and countrywide problems, raising the possibility of spill-overs into other regions. A prolonged crackdown by the government on the Kasaï provinces resulted and is now likely to delay elections and help Kabila stay in power.  

Impact on country risk

After Kabila refused to step down when his constitutional term expired, dozens of people died in protests, yet complete chaos was averted as a deal was struck with the opposition on 31 December. Kabila was allowed to remain President if an opposition-led transitional government was formed and elections were organised by the end of 2017. Already in many ways, the agreement is not being respected (for example when it comes to the choice of Prime Minister), which endangers a non-violent political transition in the coming months. On the other hand, violence and displacements in the Kasaï provinces (and continued unrest in the eastern provinces) make the organisation of credible nationwide elections impossible, as voter registration cannot take place in Kasaï. Henceforth, Kabila is unlikely to step down as agreed. In reaction to probable election delays or constitutional changes, mass public protests and attacks against government buildings are expected in the coming months. However, this should not immediately threaten Kabila, unless his opponents come to include police and soldiers, increasing the likelihood of a coup. The uncertainty has moreover ignited a deep economic crisis reflected by trade disruptions, the draining of liquidity and the collapse of the Congolese franc. Due to the high-risk situation, Credendo is off cover for medium- to long-term transactions while the short-term political risk classification for DRC is in category 6/7, excluding cover in the Kasaïs (Kasaï, Kasaï-Central, Kasaï-Oriental and Lomami) and eastern provinces (Bas-Uélé, Haut-Uélé, Ituri, Tshopo, North Kivu and South Kivu).

Analyst: Louise Van Cauwenbergh, l.vancauwenbergh@credendo.com