Stable Instability: Political Settlements and Armed Groups in the Congo

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Policy points:
• An equilibrium needs to be found between addressing the structural dynamics that feed into armed mobilization and dealing with the active armed groups.
• It is necessary to empower peaceful civilian actors and include them in decision-making processes to reach a more inclusive political settlement at national level.

Abstract: This report analyses the stability, inclusivity and levels of violence of both the political settlement of the Congo as a whole and of political settlements in the conflict-ridden east. It shows that in each of these political arenas, armed groups and violence play a different role, and examines how these arenas mutually influence each other. The relative importance of armed groups as either resources or threats to the power of the presidential patronage network shapes its policies towards the east, such as initiatives for military operations or negotiations. These policies influence the role that armed groups play locally. This role, in turn, shapes to what extent and how national politicians engage with armed groups; for instance, whether they support their mobilization or demobilization.

Keywords: DRC; Inclusion; Armed Groups; Political Processes

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