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Democratic Republic of the Congo

Yearbook 2017

Congo. In January, an agreement was announced in collaboration with the Catholic Church, in which the government and the opposition agreed that elections should be held in 2017. President Joseph Kabila, whose term of office actually expired in 2016, would, according to the agreement, remain at the head of a transitional government while the opposition would get appointed prime minister. However, neither Kabila, the prime minister since December 2016, Samy Badibanga, nor the opposition leader Étienne Tshisékédi signed the agreement. In February, the latter died during a visit to Belgium. After Tshisékédi's death, the opposition split after a power struggle between his son and Bruno Tshibala. In April, Tshibala was appointed new Prime Minister by President Kabila. In the new government presented by Kabila in May, most former ministers were allowed to sit while new ministerial posts were allocated to the opposition. In October, the country's electoral commission said elections could be held at the earliest in April 2019. According to, the commission referred, among other things, to the violent situation in Kasai. A month later, a new statement came that elections to Parliament and the presidential post would be held at the end of December 2018. According to the opposition, the Election Commission broke the Constitution by postponing the elections.

2017 Democratic Republic of the Congo

In February, the UN criticized the government after killing 101 members of the Kamwina Nsapu militia by government forces in the Kasai-Central region. In the neighboring region of Kasai, in March the Swedish-Chilean UN expert Zaida Catalán, an American UN employee, Michael Sharp, and their Congolese interpreter Betu Tshintela were murdered. The UN expatriates had traveled to the area to investigate abuses that were suspected to have been committed in connection with Kamwina Nsapu's ongoing uprising. According to a UN report presented in August, militants were behind the murders.

The violence drove over a million people from their homes, resulting in a looming famine disaster. By May, more than 3,300 people had been killed and in July over 80 mass graves had been found. The assaults were believed to have been committed by both government forces and the Kamwina Nsapu militia. In July, eight soldiers were sentenced to long prison sentences by a military court for murder and other abuses on the civilian population of Kasai. In November, the man believed to be leading Kamwina Nsapu, Ngalamulume wa Ngalamulume, was arrested. He was accused of ordering six people, including four school inspectors, to be beheaded. During the year, the situation continued to be violent even in North and South Kivu in the eastern part of the country. In December, 15 UN soldiers from Tanzania were killed in a rebel attack that UN Secretary-General António Guterres called a war crime. In August, the UN calculated:

In November, the human rights organization Amnesty International criticized several electronics companies for not doing enough to account for who they bought cobalt. The metal is an important component of many products and demand has increased, not least because cobalt is used in batteries in electric cars. Congo (Kinshasa) has the world's largest cobalt deposits and a large part of the mining operation takes place informally under dangerous conditions, often with children as miners.

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