Carter Center Report Encourages Congolese President Tshisekedi to Initiate Important Electoral Reforms

(Read the final election report)

(En français)

ATLANTA (Dec. 19, 2019) — The Carter Center today released its findings and recommendations from an election expert mission deployed during the 2018 elections.

Nearly a year after Democratic Republic of the Congo’s long-delayed presidential and parliamentary elections, President Felix Tshisekedi has formed a coalition government with his erstwhile political adversaries associated with former President Joseph Kabila and is working to advance a reform agenda focused on national unity, the rule of law, respect for fundamental freedoms, and transparent and credible elections.

The Center’s report underscores how important it is for President Tshisekedi and other key stakeholders to work together to strengthen future electoral processes and ensure protections for core human rights, including civil and political rights.

The Carter Center’s expert mission found that although the December 2018 elections allowed a range of political actors to contest the polls and resulted in the country’s first peaceful transition of power since independence in the 1960s, the credibility and overall legitimacy of the process was undermined by several key problems, especially a lack of transparency surrounding the tabulation of final results. The Carter Center hopes the report’s recommendations can contribute to important deliberations and discussions among Congolese stakeholders about electoral reform in the months ahead.

The Center’s nine-member election expert mission deployed to the Democratic Republic of the Congo in early November 2018 and remained through January 2019, assessing key aspects of the 2018 presidential, parliamentary, and provincial elections. Despite assurances that international observers would be invited, the government decided it would not accredit any American or European election observation missions. As a result, the Center scaled back the scope of its activities and formed a small expert team, focusing in particular on assessments of the legal framework, candidate and voter registration, election administration, the campaign environment, traditional and social media, and electoral dispute resolution. The expert mission did not assess election-day procedures or tabulation, nor did the team interact with election officials.

Throughout much of 2019, President Tshisekedi and his coalition partners were engaged in negotiations about the composition of the new government. The new government that was announced Aug. 26 has a broad base of domestic and international support. Tshisekedi has made it clear that he is committed to addressing the country’s most critical political, economic, and social challenges, and to pursue electoral reform to improve future elections.

In a recent call with former U.S. President Jimmy Carter, Tshisekedi invited The Carter Center to support efforts to reform the Independent National Elections Commission. The Center welcomes these commitments and urges the president and other stakeholders to move quickly to advance electoral reforms, while the 2023 elections are still far on the horizon.

Electoral reform efforts would benefit from an inclusive dialogue with a wide range of actors, including political leaders, legislators, civil society groups, security forces, electoral partners, and others to consider and agree on substantive institutional, legal, and policy reforms to protect human rights, including the passage and implementation of laws that guarantee freedom of expression, freedom of the media, right to peaceful assembly and association, and gender parity.

The CENI should be thoroughly reformed to duly promote and ensure democracy, inclusiveness, and transparency in the electoral process. Key steps of the process, including the transmission and tabulation of results, should be strengthened and allow for an independent verification of the election results. 


The Carter Center has had a presence in the DRC since the deployment of an international election observation mission in 2006. It observed the 2011 presidential and parliamentary elections and has worked with Congolese civil society on the protection of human rights, extractive industries transparency, and national citizen observation efforts. For the 2018 elections, The Carter Center deployed a team of nine technical experts in November 2018.  


Soyia Ellison,


Expert Mission Report: Democratic Republic of the Congo 2018 Harmonized Presidential, Parliamentary and Provincial Elections (PDF)


Le Rapport du Centre Carter encourage le Président congolais Tshisekedi à lancer d'importantes réformes électorales (PDF)

Mission d'Experts Électoraux: Les Élections Présidentielles, Parlementaire et Provinciales Harmonisées de 2018 République démocratique du Congo (PDF) 


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A not-for-profit, nongovernmental organization, The Carter Center has helped to improve life for people in over 80 countries by resolving conflicts; advancing democracy, human rights, and economic opportunity; preventing diseases; and improving mental health care. The Carter Center was founded in 1982 by former U.S. President Jimmy Carter and former First Lady Rosalynn Carter, in partnership with Emory University, to advance peace and health worldwide.