Country Risk

“Dauphin” announcement likely manoeuvre to keep incumbent DRC president dominant, but successor would probably consolidate power

10 August 2018
DRC’s ruling coalition presidential candidate Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary (centre) at the electoral commission in Kinshasa on 8 August. Source: Junior D Kannah/AFP/Getty Images

Key Points

  • President Kabila likely intends to use the announcement of Ramazani Shadary’s candidacy to retain power, either as a disguise for his own upcoming presidential candidacy or de facto through parallel channels while out of office.
  • However, the ascension of Ramazani Shadary to the presidency would likely be followed by his swift consolidation of power, including at Kabila’s expense, increasing contract alteration and corruption risks.
  • The successful election of Ramazani Shadary would likely be rejected by opposition parties, increasing risks of anti-government militant violence.


The presidential candidacy of Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary for the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)’s ruling Common Front for Congo (Front Commun pour le Congo: FCC) alliance, rather than incumbent President Joseph Kabila, was announced on 8 August by Communications Minister Lambert Mende. Ramazani Shadary’s ascension would drive increased contract alteration, corruption, and terrorism risks.

Ramazani Shadary is a former vice-prime minister and minister of interior and security. In May 2017, he was sanctioned by the European Union for “planning, directing, or committing acts that constitute serious human rights violations”. A successor candidate selected by the president is widely referred to as a “dauphin” in Congolese politics and the country’s press.

This announcement is in keeping with President Kabila’s strategy of using surprise to keep both his allies and his opponents off-balance politically, as Ramazani Shadary had not been widely discussed as a probable successor. It also serves Kabila’s strategy of keeping open his political options, as, despite the announcement on 8 August, three key scenarios remain possible and likely under consideration, which are discussed below.

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