DRC background information

Modern History

The Democratic Republic of Congo has colonial ties to Belgium, forged in 1877 when Henry M. Stanley, an American correspondent, navigated the Congo River and opened up the area to exploration.

Through contact with Stanley, King Leopold of Belgium was able to negotiate with native chiefs to obtain title to the territory at the Berlin Conference of 1885. Under Leopold there was mass exploitation of slave labour and resources, eventually forcing Belgium to intercede and become the administrator until 1960.

During this period, the country was known as the Belgian Congo.

Mineral-rich Katanga Province & South Kasia spark civil war

The country became independent in 1960. Peace was short-lived, however: within weeks of independence, 2 mineral-rich territories, the Katanga Province and South Kasia, made efforts to secede igniting a civil war. Both Belgium and the United Nations supplied peacekeeping troops in what was to become the beginning of an intensive and consistent United Nations presence in the country.

Civil war and infighting amongst provinces continued for 5 years. Attempts by the UN to introduce national reconciliation policies were roundly rejected by military leaders. Clashes with Belgian and UN peacekeepers were frequent.

In 1965, after a string of interim military leaders, General Joseph-Desire Mobutu, army chief of staff, came to power. He declared himself president for the 5-year period often referred to as the "Congo Crisis."

Mobutu attempts to create a politically organized nation in 1967

The turning point and vehicle for Mobutu's future dominance was the creation of the Popular Movement of the Revolution in 1967 - established with the goal of creating a politically organized nation.

The state and the party became one, and a politically active life was defined as one in support of Mobutu's political visions. Nationalism was the banner under which economic independence and culture became key virtues, downplaying tribalism and consolidating the nationalist identity, centralizing power, and suggesting the need for an all-powerful head of state and executive.

Using the military, strong rhetoric, and idealism around the rebirth of a nation, Mobutu mobilized and consolidated his position, winning the 1970 election and formally asserting control over the country.

DRC then named Republic of Zaire

Over the next 5 years Mobotu gained political strength, and eliminated enough opposition to win the election of 1970. In October 1971, the country was renamed the Republic of Zaire, a name maintained until 1997.

Mobutu himself also changed his name to Mobutu Sese Seko and forced all citizens to adopt African names. Many cities were also renamed during this time.

Mobutu continued to exert nationalistic policies unquestioned over the next 7 years. The first sign of military resistance came from Angola in 1977, with an invasion of troops under the name of the Congolese National Liberation Front.

Laurent Kabila ousts Mobutu from power in 1997

France and Belgium supported Mobutu and supplied troops to quell the rebellion. The regime of Mobutu stayed firmly in place, with regional skirmishes over areas rich in mineral wealth occurring with increasing frequency until May 1997, when a guerrilla movement headed by Laurent Kabila ousted him from power.

Under Kabila the country reclaimed the name Democratic Republic of Congo, in part to create distance from the association of Mobutu and the corruption of Zaire under his rule.

In 1996, the first Congo war broke out as an offshoot of the genocide in neighbouring Rwanda. From 1998 to 2003, the country was plagued by the second Congo war. Fighting and disorder continued as Kabila proved an able autocrat without a clear plan for reunification.

Peace accord - the Lusaka accord - is established in 2003

In this vacuum civil wars resumed, in addition to the inclusion of forces from Rwanda and Uganda. Kabila was backed by Angolan, Namibian and Zimbabwean troops. All 6 countries and the majority of the rebel groups eventually signed a peace accord - the Lusaka Accord - in 2003.

Though a peace accord was brokered in 2003, death, famine, and ongoing violence in the Eastern DRC have continued. Battling rival militias have caused widespread violence, displacement, and conflict often stemming from control of natural resources.


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Government Structure

The Democratic Republic of Congo is a semi-presidential republic. In 2006, aided by the United Nations Mission de l'Organisation de Nations Unies en République (MONUC), the country held its first free and fair elections in 40 years.

Formal political structure in the DRC

Joseph Kabila, Laurent Kabila's son, was elected president and Adolphe Muzito appointed Prime Minister.

Formal political structure in the Democratic Republic of Congo is bicameral, with the Senate and the National Assembly serving as the legislative branches. The senate is comprised of 108 seats with senators elected by provincial assemblies to serve 5-year terms.

The National Assembly is a larger body, made up of 500 seats, with representatives also serving 5-year terms. The number of the seats held by each party in the National Assembly is defined by a proportional representation electoral formula.

CIA Factbook

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Government Decentralization

In recent years, the Democratic Republic of Congo has begun to decentralize government power, shifting authority to the provincial level in an effort to build a more responsible and responsive local government.

The logistics for decentralization were laid out in Article 2 of the current Congolese Constitution, a document that came into effect on February 18, 2006. Article 2 defined an increase in the number of provinces from 11 to 26, outlining new provincial boundaries. Kinshasa would remain the capital.

Government decentralization in DRC is not finalized

Though the territorial and governmental adjustments were due to be in effect by February 18, 2009, efforts at finalizing the new structure are ongoing.

It is reported that the 11 former territorial boundaries are still effectively active as administrative divisions. As told by companies already doing business in the region, the decentralization process affects any foreign entity looking to operate in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

There is a challenge in determining the appropriate contacts at the regional level and navigating relationships at various levels of government to understand if power to manage local issues has been transferred in name only.

Effect of decentralization on extractive sector

Provinces have seen their powers reinforced by decentralization but the complexity of local issues has made transition to local governance a slow and difficult process. Four main issues have been identified as key elements of the transitory process:

  1. Territorial conflict and violence
  2. Economic imbalances between the provinces
  3. The inability of central government to maintain control
  4. The nature of the productive processes responsible for developing extractive resources

CIA Factbook

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The DRC Extractive Sector

The Democratic Republic of Congo has large reserves of cobalt and copper, as well as significant reserves of gold, diamonds, cassiterite (tin ore) and other minerals (zinc, iron, uranium, wolframite, etc.).

Oil and gas also represent a small but significant element of the Congolese economy. Total oil output reached 7.59 million barrels in 2006 (20,794 barrels/day), down from 7.7 million in 2005 and 10.1 million in 2004.

Almost 70% of production is offshore, and half of this is owned by Muanda International Oil Company, which is, in turn, owned by Perenco Oil (France). The rest of the offshore concession is owned by Union Oil (USA) and Teikoku (Japan). Onshore production has been operated by Perenco since the withdrawal of Ocean Oil (Canada).

Regulations in the DRC extractive sector

Legislation that governs the extractive sector is issued by the DRC parliament and executive branch.

The national Mining Code of 2002 (enacted by the Law No. 007/2002 of July 11, 2002) and its ancillary Mining Regulation, adopted in 2003 (by Decree No. 038/2003 of March 26, 2003), are the main pieces of legislation governing the industry.

As per the mining code, there are 5 main entities responsible for administering and overseeing the Mining Code:

  1. The president of the Republic
  2. The minister of mines
  3. The Mining Registry (Cadastre Minier)
  4. The Directorate of Mines
  5. The department in charge of the protection of the mining environment

Getting the Deal Through 2009

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DRC International Treaties

The DRC is a member of the World Trade Organization (WTO), the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA), the Convention for the Creation of the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) and has declared intentions to adhere to the OHADA Convention.

Though the Government of the DRC has established a National Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative Committee, compliance is not complete - the country has until March 9, 2010 to undertake validation. It is currently listed as a candidate nation.

Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) requires material disclosure

The Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI), an initiative supported by 42 of the largest extractive companies and over 300 NGOs, is an initiative that requires all member companies to make material disclosures regarding payments to governments.

A summary of EITI member requirements for companies is also available.

In addition, a companies are required to submit a self-assessment, summarizing their level of support and public declaration of intentions to abide by EITI guidelines.

The DRC plans to achieve EITI member status.

DRC signs up for numerous international treaties

The DRC has also signed on to numerous international environmental treaties, including the Vienna Convention for the Protection of the Ozone Layer, the Rio Convention on Biological Diversity, the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants, and the Kyoto Protocol to the UN Convention on Climate Change.

To promote foreign investment, the DRC concluded bilateral international treaties with several countries; however, international tax treaties are not currently in effect, outside of transport taxes.

International Bureau of Fiscal Documentation

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