DR CONGO — QUICK FACTS
Total Population: 71.4 million
Under age 17: approx. ½ the population
Kinshasa – 7.8 million Lubumbashi – 3.4 million Goma – 1.0 million Bukavu – 800,000
Total population – 67%
Males – 77% Females – 57%
(literacy definition: population age 15+ and can read/write French, Lingala, Kingwana/ Copperbelt Swahili, or Tshiluba)
Official language: French
Fluent in French – 10% Partially fluent in French – 30%
Lingala Swahili Kikongo (Kongo) Tshiluba (Kiluba)
(More than 200 languages are spoken.)
Roman Catholic – 50%
Protestant – 20%
Kimbanguist – 10%
Muslim – 10%
Other – 10%
Population total: 50 years
Males – 48 years Females – 51 years
Norway – 1 United States – 3 Italy – 25 Kuwait – 54 Russia – 55 Ukraine – 78 China – 101 Iraq – 131 Rwanda – 167 Afghanistan – 175 DR Congo: 186 Niger: 187 [2013 Full List]
GDP per capita: US $400
GDP rank: 227 out of 227 countries [Full list of countries]
Main exports: Diamonds, gold, copper, cobalt, lumber, crude oil, coffee
Main export partners: China (48%), Zambia (21%), USA (10%), Belgium (5%)
Corruption Index rank: 160 out of 174 countries [Full list of countries]
President: Joseph Kabila
Appointed President in January 2001 following the assassination of his father, President Laurent-Désiré Kabila.
Elected President in November 2006 .
‘Officially’ elected President again in November 2011 elections, although international observers said the vote count lacked credibility.
Prime Minister: Augustin Matata Ponyo
There are 10 provinces. The 2005 Constitution envisions greater political decentralization and calls for 25 provinces; however, this provision has not yet been implemented.
2015 – Local Elections. These will be the first local elections in the country’s history and have been postponed for several years.
Nov 2016 – Presidential Elections. According to the Constitution, the next presidential election must take place by the end of 2016, but thus far, they have not been scheduled.
In the eastern region of the DR Congo, there are many rebel militia groups operating, as well as sizable contingents of Congolese soldiers and UN peacekeepers. The conflict is played out through inter-militia fighting for terrority and/or resources, and through rebel attacks on on villages to rape and pillage. Rebels groups are ethnically-based (although rarely uniform). Rival rebel groups unite unpredicatble in loose alliances against a common foe — usually the Government of Rwanda or the Congo President.
Many of the rebel groups are “mai mai” groups. Mai Mai groups proliferated during the wars as village self-defense miltias, but now they prey on villages and are led by powerful commanders, some of whom are wanted by the International Criminal Court on suspicion of committing war crimes and crimes against humanity. (Legitimate mai mai groups also exist for village defensive.)
The UN has maintained a large peacekeeping mission in the DR Congo for more than a decade. Today, MONUSCO has 17,000 soldiers in the Congo at a cost of $1.5 billion a year. MONUSCO’s mandate makes “the protection of civilians” a priority. In this context, it came as a shock when MONUSCO soldiers watched the M23 rebels take control of Goma, an important border town. Some Congolese view MONUSCO as biased, put in place by the international community to support the “illegitimate” goverment of President Joseph Kabila. MONUSCO is invaluable for providing armed escort to humanitarian aid agencies that allows them to reach remote populations. Dozens of peacekeepers have been killed in the line of duty in the Congo.
The “Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda” is composed of Rwandan Hutus (including génocidaires) who fled across the border from Rwanda to escape advancing Tutsi forces at the end of the 1994 Rwandan genocide. The FDLR seeks to overthrow of the Tutsi-led government in Rwanda; however, with only a few thousand members, it has little impact on Rwanda other than sporadic cross-border raids. Instead, from its bases in the jungle of eastern Congo, FDLR rebels viciously attack Congolese villages and conducts systematic atrocities. MONUSCO and the Congolese Army have worked steadily over the past few years to capture FDLR rebels or encourage them to surrender, so they can be repatriated to Rwanda.
In April 2012, a group of soldiers who had once been members of the Tutsi CNDP rebel group mutinied from the Congo Army to create the M23 rebel group. (In 2009, the Congolese Tutsi rebel group CNDP signed the March 23, 2009 peace agreement, which included being integrated into the regular Congo Army, but the former-CNDP soldiers maintained a parallel command structure.)
M23 claims the Government did not implement all elements of the March 23, 2009 peace accord, including the repartiation of Congolese Tutsis who remain in refugee camps in Rwanda.
There appear to be two M23 factions, one headed by Sultani Makenga and the other by Jean-Marie Runiga (likely reporting to notorious warlord, Bosco Ntanga.] M23 has successfully advanced and taken control of territory as the Congo Army withdraws. A UN Report provides evidence that M23 gets weapons from Rwanda , as well as those left behind by quickly retreating Congolese soldiers. The emergence of M23 has resulted in a devastating upsurge in fighting in eastern Congo with villagers caught in the middle.
Raia Mutomboki emerged in 2005, but its activities suddently surged in May 2012 (following the emergence of M23).
Raia Mutomboki claims to be the protector of Congolese citizens against the FDLR (Rwandan Hutu rebel group). Raia Mutomboki is a particularly brutish group, that targets Hutu civilians and engages with the FDLR in tit-for-tat attacks on civilians in the areas of Shabunda, Walikale, Bunyakiri and Kalonge.
Nyatura is a Hutu rebel group whose leader, Sadiki Murenge, says consists of Congo Army soldiers who deserted in order to defend their families again attack by the Raia Mutomobi.
Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed – Dwight D. Eisenhower