Over the last few decades The Democratic Republic of the Congo, The biggest country in Africa south of the Sahara with a population of more than 70 million people, has been plagued by instability and violence. However there has been a recent surge in violence lately as a rise in government repression, rebel group activity, and violent protesting has swept the country.Why is this an important international news story?The Congo, while being a notoriously poor and undeveloped nation, has a huge supply of raw minerals and materials, and is a large source of these important and sometimes vital minerals and materials. Cobalt, a metal crucial for the production of batteries, is one of these minerals, with around 54% of the entire world’s supply of Cobalt coming from mines situated in the Congo. With Cobalt demand projected to rise hugely due to increasing interest in the production of electric cars, escalating instability in the congo could have global effects.What are the implications?If the president of the Congo, Joseph Kabila, refuses to negotiate with opposition groups and continues to delay elections, Tensions will continue to rise and exacerbate violence. Protests are likely to intensify if opposition demands are not met, and rebel groups are likely to escalate campaigns against the government, with increased support from a more and more dissatisfied and alienated population.Where is this happening?While protests against Joseph Kabila are spread out across most of the cities in the Congo, Most rebel groups in the Congo are situated in the east and south east, Especially in the provinces of north and south Kivu, Bordering the countries of Uganda and Rwanda, both countries that were at one point at war with the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and still today countries that interfere heavily in the politics of the Congo.When did this event/trend/process really begin?The main cause for the government’s situation in the Congo was the Rwandan genocide of the 1990s. Genocide of the Tutsi Population by the Hutu controlled government of Rwanda provoked a Tutsi backed military coup, which then caused many Hutus to flee to the eastern provinces of the Congo, then called Ziare. Many Hutu groups then continued to attack the now Tutsi backed government of Rwanda, causing the Rwandan government to back Tutsi aligned rebel groups in the Congo, with significant military intervention in the Congo’s eastern provinces. Discontent with then ruler Mobutu’s regime was so widespread that support began to grow for these rebel groups, shifting the conflict from an ethnic and mineral based one to a general struggle against the Mobutu regime. Mobutu was overthrown and replaced with Laurent-Désiré Kabila, who was later assassinated after expelling Rwandan forces from the country, leading to Laurent’s son, Joseph Kabila, becoming president. Joseph has been president since 2001.Who is involved and who is implicated?Joseph Kabila, being the president, is heavily involved in the situation. He has delayed elections and cracked down on protests.Jean-Pierre Bemba, Leader of the biggest opposition party in the Congo. He was handed a prison sentence in 2016.Paul Kagame, President of Rwanda, tensions are still high with the CongoHow did this become more than a local issue?The Congo’s current era of instability started out as a local Hutu-Tutsi conflict that spilled over into the Congo, however the Congolese government’s antagonisation of Rwandan backed militias in the eastern Congo coupled with a populace hugely unsatisfied with Mobutu’s corrupt rule caused the conflict in the eastern Congo to shift away from local ethnic disputes and take on broader political overtones, ever since the instability while being concentrated in the east has been an issue on a national scale for the Congo.