Republican Guard (Democratic Republic of the Congo)

The Republican Guard (French: Garde Républicaine) of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, formerly known as the Special Presidential Security Group (Groupe Spécial de Sécurité Présidentielle, GSSP), is maintained by President Félix Tshisekedi. Military of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (FARDC) military officials state that the Garde Républicaine is not the responsibility of FARDC, but the Head of State.[1] Apart from Article 140 of the Law on the Army and Defence, no legal stipulation on the DRC's Armed Forces makes provision for the GR as a distinct unit within the national army. In February 2005, President Joseph Kabila passed a decree which appointed the GR's commanding officer and 'repealed any previous provisions contrary' to that decree. The GR is more than 10,000 strong (the ICG said 10,000–15,000 in January 2007), and formerly consisted of three brigades, the 10th, at Kinshasa, the 15th, and the 16th, at Lubumbashi[2] (more recently it has been reorganized into defense zones and regiments).[3] It has better working conditions and is paid regularly, but still commits numerous crimes near their bases, including against United Nations officials.[4]

Republican Guard
Flag of the President of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.svg
Presidential Standard of the DRC
Activec. mid-2000s – present
Country Democratic Republic of the Congo
AllegiancePresidential Seal of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.svg President of the Democratic Republic of the Congo
TypeRepublican guard
RoleSecurity of the president
Commander-in-chiefPresident Félix Tshisekedi
CommanderChristian Tshiweve

It is said to be part of the Military Household (Maison Militaire) of the President, which are the DRC's state security agencies, and has been used against President Kabila's political opposition. The Republican Guard has been accused, by the United States, the United Nations, and numerous human rights groups of undermining the democratic process in the country by harassing political rivals, targeting opposition parties, abusing journalists, arbitrarily detaining and executing civilians, and preventing public gatherings.[5][6]


The Guard appears to be a functional successor to Mobutu's Special Presidential Division.[7] The Guard is organizationally distinct from the FARDC, and its members wear a recognizably different uniforms. Until 2007, they wore black uniforms. Today, they wear red berets to distinguish them from regular FARDC soldiers.[8] General Bulenda Padiri described the Republican Guard in 2007 as a private army within the military and that most of its members came from President Kabila's home province of Katanga.[9]

During the 2006–2007 election cycle in the DRC the Republican Guard was recorded by Amnesty International for extrajudicial killings and other abuses of Kinshasa residents during the political unrest.[6]

In the next general election in 2011, the UN reported that Republican Guards, accompanied by the Congolese national police and intelligence agency, shot at protestors, killing 33 and wounding another 83. Another 265 were arrested, many reported that they were tortured. The UN stated it will work with the country's judiciary to investigate the incident and try those who were responsible.[10] It was reported that Republican Guards opened fire at crowds of opposition members, who rallied near an airport where their leader was expected to be arriving. In the Katanga Province, it was reported that an attack on a polling station in Lubumbashi left several people dead who were caught in a fire fight between the assailants and Republican Guards.[11] Also around that time, 30 people were arrested by the GR as around 60 tried to break into President Kabila's residence in Kinshasa. It was reported that some had military training, but the idea that they were angry Republican Guards was denied by the country's information minister. The GR fought them off successfully, though the fighting also spread to a nearby army base. Kabila called it a "coup attempt".[12]

Members of the Republican Guard, wearing black uniforms and red berets, pictured with General Kisempia Sungilanga in 2006

On March 23–24, 2013, Guard troops fought off a rogue Mai Mai militia attack in the Katanga Province. The group, Mai Mai Kata Katanga, has been trying to establish the province as an independent state.[13] The guardsmen in the area have been known to commit various crimes against the locals, and even some United Nations workers.[14] During the December 2013 Kinshasa attacks members of the Republican Guard stationed in the capital fought off attacks by members of an extremist religious group.[15] In March 2015, a court in the North Kivu region found a Republican Guard soldier guilty of murder and had him executed.[16] It was also reported that 300 Republican Guards were deployed to the Central African Republic during the civil war in that country, around 2012–2013, to assist the falling government of President François Bozizé.[17]

Throughout 2015 and 2016, Republican Guard troops were accused by various human rights organizations and media outlets of brutality towards protestors who were demonstrating against President Kabila not wanting to step down in November when his constitutionally-mandated term ended. In addition, they have arrested and harassed members of the Congolese opposition. The Republican Guard is legally unable to help the Congolese National Police (PNC) in maintaining public order, the police are only able to call on the Armed Forces.[18][19] After the protests, in December 2016, the European Union placed sanctions on Republican Guard commander Ilunga Kampate and several other officials.[20]

By 2017, an armored vehicle unit of the Republican Guard was deployed to Kasaï-Central province to assist the FARDC in putting down the Kamwina Nsapu rebellion.[21] In February 2018 the Guard fought off a Mai Mai militia attack on one of the President Kabila's residences in the North Kivu provinces.[22]

In early January 2019 it was reported that Republican Guard troops were deployed to help police deal with protestors in the aftermath of the 30 December 2018 general election.[23] Since Félix Tshisekedi replaced Joseph Kabila as president of the DRC following the 2018 general election, Tshisekedi made an effort to reform the military, including regulating the role of the Republican Guard.[24]


Brigadier General Dieudonné Banze Lubundji was commander of the Republican Guard. He was appointed in 2007, and from 2003–2006 was FARDC deputy chief of staff for operations.[25] By 2014, he was promoted to major general and given command of the Land Forces (Forces du Terrestres).[26] The commander before him, Jean-Claude Kifwa, became commander of the 9th Military Region (Province Orientale).[27] Ilunga Kampate[20] was appointed Republican Guard commander during the September 2014 military command reshuffle,[28] and was replaced in April 2020 by president Félix Tshisekedi with Christian Tshiwewe Songe.[29][24]

In an effort to extend his personal control across the country, Joseph Kabila has deployed the GR at key airports, ostensibly in preparation for an impending presidential visit.[30] At the end of 2005, there were Guards deployed in Mbandaka, Kindu, Lubumbashi, Bukavu, Kolwezi, staying many months after the President had left. They are still deployed at Kisangani's Bangoka airport, where they appear to answer to no local commander and have caused trouble with MONUC troops there.[1]

The GR is also supposed to undergo the integration process, but as of January 2007, only one battalion had been announced as being integrated. Formed at a brassage centre in the Kinshasa suburb of Kibomango, the battalion included 800 men, half from the former GSSP and half from the MLC and RCD Goma.[31]

By the summer of 2016, the GR has been reorganized from its original strength of three brigades into ten regiments. As of December 2016, the Republican Guard is organized as follows:[3]

  • Defense Zone 1 (Bas-Congo, Equateur, Kinshasa, Bandundu)
    • 10th Infantry Regiment (Mbanza-Ngungu) — Lt. Col. Utu Lukoyi
    • 11th Infantry Regiment (Kinshasa) — Lt. Col. Matata-Misimbo
    • 12th Infantry Regiment (Kinshasa) — Lt. Col. Kibanza wa Kibula
    • 14th Security and Honor Regiment (Kinshasa) — Col. Mpanga Mukutu
    • 15th GR Commando Regiment (Kinshasa) — Lt. Col. Inyengele Bakati Herickson
    • 15th Armored Regiment (Kinshasa, with detachments elsewhere) — Col. Steve Mikombe
    • 17th Artillery Regiment (Kinshasa, with detachments elsewhere) — Col. Abdullah Kayumba-Mwepu
  • Defense Zone 2 (Kasai-Occidental, Kasai-Oriental, Katanga)
    • 13th Infantry Regiment (Lubumbashi) — Col. Etienne Monga Nonzo
    • 18th Infantry Regiment (Lubumbashi) — Lt. Col. Kabwe Ngoyi Tobololo
  • Defense Zone 3 (Oriental, South Kivu, North Kivu, Maniema)
    • 19th Infantry Regiment (Goma) — Lt. Col. Yves Kitenge

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b Amnesty International, DRC Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration (DDR) and the Reform of the Army Archived 2007-08-21 at the Wayback Machine, Section VII A, 25 January 2007, AI Index: AFR 62/001/2007
  2. ^ 15th Brigade identified via EUSEC DR Congo Youtube video. See also reference to 16th Brigade at Lubumbashi at Archived 2009-06-09 at the Wayback Machine
  3. ^ a b Jean-Jacques Wondo Omanyundu (16 December 2016). La Garde Républicaine : une épée de Damoclès sur l’alternance démocratique en RDC Archived 2017-06-08 at the Wayback Machine. DESC-WONDO. Retrieved 13 May 2017. (in French)
  4. ^ The Republican Guard Archived 2018-08-25 at the Wayback Machine. Congo Research Group. Published 10 January 2010. Retrieved 21 March 2018.
  5. ^ Treasury Sanctions Senior Congolese Official for Leading Republican Guard in Undermining Democratic Processes Archived 2018-06-16 at the Wayback Machine. US Embassy in the DRC. Retrieved 2 March 2018.
  6. ^ a b TORTURE AND KILLINGS BY STATE SECURITY AGENTS STILL ENDEMIC Archived 2018-03-22 at the Wayback Machine (PDF). Amnesty International. Retrieved 21 March 2018.
  7. ^ Security Sector Institutions and the DRC’s Political Crisis. Africa Center for Strategic Studies. Published 20 December 2016. Retrieved 20 March 2018.
  8. ^ "FARDC : une nouvelle tenue pour la garde rapprochée du chef de l'Etat". Radio Okapi. 17 May 2007. Retrieved 28 December 2018.
  10. ^ Violence during the elections Archived 2016-12-20 at the Wayback Machine UN Human Rights report
  11. ^ DR Congo: Rein in Security Forces UN Human Rights report
  12. ^ 30 arrested after Congo coup attempt Archived 2014-08-11 at the Wayback Machine
  13. ^ [1] Archived 2014-05-21 at the Wayback Machine African News and Analysis, 24 March 2014
  14. ^ [2] Archived 2014-05-21 at the Wayback Machine Congo political blog
  15. ^ Myriam Dunn Cavelty, Thierry Balzacq (2016). Routledge Handbook of Security Studies. Routledge. p. 330. ISBN 978-1317620921.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: uses authors parameter (link)
  16. ^ Nord-Kivu : un soldat de la Garde républicaine condamné à mort pour meurtre (North Kivu: Soldier of the Republican Guard executed) (In French) Archived 2015-04-02 at the Wayback Machine Radio Okapi. March 2015.
  17. ^ Mbembele, Thomas (3 January 2013). De l’opportunité de l’envoi d’un contingent de la Garde Républicaine de la RDC à Bangui (in French). Le Congolais. Retrieved 21 March 2018.
  18. ^ DR Congo: Deadly Crackdown on Protests Archived 2017-05-15 at the Wayback Machine. Human Rights Watch. Published 24 January 2015. Retrieved 13 May 2017.
  19. ^ DRC / PROTEST HUMAN RIGHTS REPORT Archived 2018-03-10 at the Wayback Machine. UN Multimedia. Published 21 October 2016. Retrieved 13 May 2017.
  20. ^ a b Aaron Ross, Robin Emmott (12 December 2016). U.S. steps up sanctions on Congo officials, Europe joins in Archived 2018-06-23 at the Wayback Machine. Reuters. Retrieved 9 March 2018.
  21. ^ Jean-Jacques Wondo Omanyundu (18 February 2017). Flash DESC : Les images barbares des soldats congolais au Kasaï Central Archived 2018-09-03 at the Wayback Machine (in French). Kasai Direct. Published 14 December 2017.
  22. ^ RDC: une propriété du président Kabila à nouveau attaquée dans le Nord-Kivu Archived 2018-06-30 at the Wayback Machine (in French). Radio France Internationale Africa. Published 16 February 2018. Retrieved 21 March 2018.
  23. ^ Burke, Jason (11 January 2019). Runner-up in Congo election says he beat official winner by wide margin. The Guardian.
  24. ^ a b President Tshisekedi Makes Major Changes In Military. Taarifa Rwanda. Retrieved 10 May 2020.
  25. ^ Alternately reported as 'Dieudonne M'Banze Lubundji.' Archived 2011-10-19 at the Wayback Machine, accessed June 2010
  26. ^ Joseph Kabila meets with security council (In French) Archived 2015-04-02 at the Wayback Machine. Digital Congo. Published 5 November 2014. Retrieved 29 March 2015.
  27. ^ Bakumanya, Bienvenu-Marie (26 May 2017). How Laurent left bitter legacy in DRC Archived 2018-03-10 at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved 9 March 2018.
  28. ^ RDC : le général Ilunga Kampete nommé commandant de la sécurité présidentielle (in French). Published 18 November 2014. Retrieved 21 March 2018.
  29. ^ Republican guard: Felix Tshisekedi names major general Christian Tshiwewe. Digital Congo. Published 23 April 2020. Retrieved 10 May 2020.
  30. ^ ICG, SSR in the Congo, Africa Report No. 104, 13 February 2006
  31. ^ 'Sortie officielle du premier bataillon integre de la Garde Republicaine des FARDC', Xinhua News Agency, 15 September 2006, cited in Amnesty International DRC Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration (DDR) and the Reform of the Army Archived 2007-08-21 at the Wayback Machine, Section VII A, 25 January 2007, AI Index: AFR 62/001/2007