Violent protests likely to follow DRC’s 23 December elections; security response most effective in Kinshasa and Lubumbashi

19 December 2018

Key Points

  • DRC security forces in Kinshasa and Lubumbashi are likely to contain any unrest, which would probably be limited to three days' duration, so ensuring incidents remained away from the city centres and key commercial and government neighbourhoods. Other neighbourhoods in these cities, however, are at higher risk of opportunistic looting, arson, and vandalism against properties associated with ruling and opposition parties, and blocked roads.
  • The arrest or disqualification of opposition presidential candidates, or further postponement, cancellation or invalidation of the elections, would increase the likelihood of protests and rioting intensifying, lasting longer, and continuing into January 2019.
  • In other towns and cities (particularly in the Kasai region, Goma, and Bukavu), less extensive security forces' presence presents high risk of temporary breakdowns in control by local authorities, with the associated risk of more extensive looting and robbery affecting retail outlets and bank branches, and significant property damage from arson attacks.


Elections scheduled for 23 December in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) are unlikely to be delayed by a fire which reportedly destroyed the majority of the capital Kinshasa's voting machines. The elections, as previously forecast by IHS Markit, will probably be followed by protests, although these are likely to be concentrated away from key government and commercial neighbourhoods due to security measures in Kinshasa and the mining hub Lubumbashi. However, protests will pose higher risks of temporary breakdowns in control by local authorities in other cities and towns.

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