DRC President Joseph Kabila’s refusal to step down at the end of his term in December 2016 sparked unprecedented tensions with the DRC’s longterm ally Angola. This situation has been exacerbated by the election of President João Lourenço in Angola in September 2017.

For more than two decades, Angola has played a critical role in supporting Joseph Kabila and his father Laurent Kabila in their positions as Presidents of the DRC (Daily Maverick, 01.06.2017) but, lacking the history that former Angolan president José dos Santos enjoyed with Kabila, Lourenço appears to be losing patience with his neighbour as the DRC’s deteriorating security environment continues to affect Angola’s domestic affairs.

Notably, ensuring the stability of the DRC’s political and security environment is critical to Angola – particularly as the country’s most lucrative oil deposits are located in the Cabinda enclave, which is separated from the rest of Angola by some 30km of Congolese territory.

Furthermore, a further deterioration in relations between the two neighbours could have wide ranging consequences affecting not only the regional security environment but also the investment environment of both countries.

Key Points

  • For decades, Angola’s relationship with the DRC was centred around stability and security. But with DRC President Joseph Kabila’s decision to delay the 2016 election having sparked a constitutional crisis, the DRC’s increasingly unstable and unpredictable security environment is beginning to threaten Angola’s own domestic stability.
  • Not only could a deterioration of the security situation on the Angolan border fuel anti-government sentiment in the region, but a further uptick in violence could begin to affect operations in Angola’s oil rich Cabinda province.
  • Lacking the history that former Angolan president José dos Santos enjoyed with Kabila, President João Lourenço appears to be losing patience, and Luanda has all but denounced its support for the struggling president in the DRC.
  • Yet, while Angola is certainly increasing the political pressure on the DRC, it is not inconceivable that Luanda will be forced to play a more decisive role in the ongoing Congolese crisis