By examining the Kabila regime through the lens of the "competitive authoritarian" regime subtype, this article aims to advance our understanding of the process and stability of Congolese democratic reform. By examining democratic contestation that has arisen through the legislature, judiciary, media, and electoral arena, this article argues that the Kabila regime does not meet the minimal requirements for democracy but can more accurately be classified as competitive authoritarian. This article proposes that because democratization in the DRC is based on external, rather than domestic, pressure, particularly the effect of Western foreign aid on corrupt patronage networks, the regime is vulnerable to authoritarian drift. In the final section, this article presents the argument that a decrease in politically conditional aid and an increase in politically unconditional Chinese investment are both likely to push the regime in a more authoritarian direction. Given the size, location, and political influence of the DRC, an analysis of Congolese democratic institutions is essential to our understanding of democratic consolidation in Africa.