The year 2017 will be critical for the Democratic Republic of Congo. After much bloodshed and two years of brutal political repression leading up to and following the December 19, 2016, deadline that marked the end of President Joseph Kabila’s constitutionally mandated two-term limit, participants at talks mediated by the Catholic Church signed an agreement on New Year’s Eve 2016. It includes a clear commitment that presidential elections will be held before the end of 2017, that President Joseph Kabila will not seek a third term, and that there will be no referendum nor changes to the constitution. While the deal could prove to be a big step toward Congo’s first democratic transition since independence, there’s still a long road ahead.
Human Rights Watch’s Congo team will continue here to provide real-time updates, reports from the field, and other analysis and commentary to help inform the public about the ongoing crisis and to urge policymakers to remain engaged to prevent an escalation of violence and abuse in Congo – with potentially volatile repercussions across the region.