Country Risk

Provisional opposition presidential victory decreases likelihood of mass unrest in DRC capital, but increases inter-party violence risk

10 January 2019

Presidential candidate Felix Tshisekedi signals to the crowd during a campaign rally in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo, on 21 December 2018. Source: Luis Tato/AFP/Getty Images

Key Points

  • Opposition candidate Tshisekedi's provisional victory in the DRC's presidential election decreases the risk of unified opposition protests and mass unrest in Kinshasa, but increases the likelihood of mob violence between supporters of Tshisekedi and rival opposition candidate Martin Fayulu throughout DRC, including in the capital.
  • Incumbent President Joseph Kabila will likely leverage his connections with ruling party and military elites to exert continuing influence over Tshisekedi, in exchange for mitigating coup risks against the incoming president.
  • A Tshisekedi presidency would likely renegotiate mining and hydrocarbons contracts and concessions agreed by Kabila since December 2016, and pursue policies aimed at boosting diamond mining and commercial agriculture.


The provisional official announcement on 10 January of a presidential election victory in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) by opposition candidate Felix Tshisekedi decreases mass unrest risks in the capital, Kinshasa, but increases risks of intra-opposition violence. A Tshisekedi presidency would likely renegotiate mining and hydrocarbons contracts and concessions agreed by incumbent President Joseph Kabila since December 2016, and would depend on Kabila for reconciliation with the current ruling party and military elites, who otherwise would pose coup threats while in opposition.

The Independent National Electoral Commission (Commission Électorale Nationale Indépendante: CENI) announced early on 10 January provisional results showing that opposition candidate Felix Tshisekedi had won the DRC's 30 December presidential election with 39% of the vote. This placed Tshisekedi, of the Union for Democracy and Social Progress (Union pour la Démocratie et le Progrès Social: UDPS) party, ahead of rival opposition candidate Martin Fayulu (35%) and Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary (24%), the candidate backed by incumbent President Joseph Kabila.

Fayulu, who international media have reported was previously identified as the winner by the DRC Catholic Church's National Episcopal Conference of the Congo (Conférence Épiscopale Nationale du Congo: CENCO), immediately denounced the results as an "electoral coup".

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