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Democratic Republic of the Congo

The Carter Center has been consistently active in the Democratic Republic of the Congo since 2006, working to promote democratic governance and protect human rights.

Waging Peace

+Engaging Civil Society to Protect Human Rights

While ongoing conflicts, a lack of accountability, and disregard for human rights has contributed to a history of violence towards and inequality for some of the most vulnerable populations, Congolese local civil society organization and human rights activists are working on the frontlines to demand reforms on these issues. Since 2007, the Carter Center’s Human Rights House has been partnering with these actors to create lasting changes by promoting collaborative action and establishing networks of like-minded organizations; providing technical and organizational trainings; and connecting them with needed resources. Through these partners, the Center currently supports efforts aimed at protecting human rights defenders, advancing women’s rights, and promoting then positive engagement of youth in public life.

+Advancing Transparency and Accountability in the Extractive Industries

Poor administration of the DRC’s extractive sector has allowed revenues to be channeled away from investment in the country’s sustainable development and has left local communities to suffer the negative environmental, health, and other human rights impacts of these operations. The Extractive Industries Governance project advances social and economic justice by building the capacity of and supporting national civil society partners to monitor, report, and advocate for reform to enhance transparency, accountability, and respect for human rights.

+Conducting International Election Observation Missions

2018 Elections

The Carter Center deployed a nine-member international election expert mission to the Democratic Republic of the Congo from November 2018 through January 2019 to assess key aspects of the 2018 presidential, parliamentary, and provincial elections.

The expert mission found that the December 2018 elections allowed a range of political actors to contest the polls and resulted in the country’s first peaceful transition of power since independence in the 1960s. The credibility and overall legitimacy of the process was, however, gravely undermined by several key problems, most notably a lack of transparency surrounding the tabulation of final results. Independent citizen observer groups noted substantial differences between their tabulations and the results announced by the election commission. The electoral process does not appear to have fulfilled the most basic tenet of democratic elections – to reflect the genuine will of the people.

In the view of The Carter Center, the integrity of the election was further undermined by imposed limitations on who could run for office and on the ability of candidates to campaign freely, the cancellation of the presidential polls in three regions, and an unduly short timeframe for lodging challenges to election results.

Overall, the electoral process did not appear to have satisfied the DRC’s national and international commitments to safeguard citizens’ civic and political rights. Read the report >

2011 Elections

The Carter Center observed the DRC's Nov. 28, 2011, presidential and parliamentary elections, deploying long-term observers in August 2011 and a 70-person delegation closer to election day.

Preliminary findings included that the Independent Electoral Commission's administration of the election was fraught with logistical and budgetary challenges. On multiple important election preparations, commission operations deviated from the electoral calendar. The Carter Center found the provisional presidential election results announced by the election commission lacked credibility. Read the full report >

2006 Elections

The Carter Center deployed long-term observers in April 2006 ahead of the country's July 30 presidential and parliamentary elections; they were joined by a larger delegation ahead of election day.

Voting was calm and orderly throughout most of the DRC — a major milestone for the democratic process. High voter turnout was another indication of the strong desire on the part of the population finally to choose its own leaders. In the vast majority of cases, polling station staff took their responsibilities very seriously and worked diligently, throughout the night and in difficult conditions, to complete the counting process.

No candidate won a 50 percent plus one majority of the vote, so a runoff election was scheduled between the top two candidates for Oct. 29.

The Carter Center sent a 45-member international delegation to observe the DRC's presidential runoff elections, which were orderly and peaceful in most parts of the country. The elections were well-administered, bearing testimony to the accumulated experience of the many thousands of election workers over three democratic exercises held in less than a year.

The delegation noted that instances of disruption or attempted manipulation of the electoral process, while serious in a few cases, appeared isolated and unlikely to affect the overall success of the vote.

On Nov. 28, 2006, Jean-Pierre Bemba accepted defeat after his legal challenge to the election result was thrown out by the DRC's Supreme Court. The former rebel leader received 42 percent of the runoff votes compared to Joseph Kabila's 58 percent.

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QUICK FACTS: DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF THE CONGO

Size: 2,344,858 square kilometers 

Population: 101,780,263

Population below poverty line: 63%

Life expectancy: 61 years

Ethnic groups: Over 200 African ethnic groups, of which the majority are Bantu; the four largest tribes - Mongo, Luba, Kongo (all Bantu), and the Mangbetu-Azande (Hamitic)

Religions: Roman Catholic, Protestant, Kimbanguist, Muslim, other (includes syncretic sects and indigenous beliefs)

Languages: French (official), Lingala (a lingua franca for trade), Kingwana (a dialect of Kiswahili or Swahili), Kikongo, Tshiluba

Source: U.S. Central Intelligence Agency World Factbook 2020  

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