070_Global12_InFocus_DRC_V8

Global issue 12

In FocusThe Democratic Republic of Congo A war without end Since 1994, a conflict that has cost the lives of an estimated 5.4 million people and displaced millions more has been raging – on and off – in the eastern region of the Democratic Republic of Congo. Drawing in eight African nations and more than 20 armed militia groups at its height, it is the deadliest war in modern African history.Mark Doyle answers key questions about the origins and costs of what some commentators have called ‘Africa’s World War’ What caused the current war and when did more efficiently run, neighbour. It backs FARDC with logistics – and it begin? Another cause for the proliferation of sometimes firepower – but its relation- A useful time to start is 1994, the year of armed groups in eastern Congo is the min- ship with the government army is ten- the genocide of ethnic Tutsis and moder- eral wealth. Its rolling hills support agri- tative; the UN tries to keep its distance ate Hutus in neighbouring Rwanda by an culture but also yield precious metals and from undisciplined FARDC units. extremist Hutu regime. Tutsi-led rebels minerals, like tin, gold and coltan (used in MONUSCO has frequently stepped in ended the genocide by seizing power and mobile phone production). to prevent Congo’s wars from escalating a Tutsi-led administration remains in place completely out of control, but for such a in the Rwandan capital Kigali today. Af- Who is fighting? large country it is still under-resourced. ter the Hutu extremists were ousted, some Currently the main forces in the conflict are: Stronger and better national government two million Hutus – including many of the is needed, not just backing from outside. génocidaires – fled into the forests of east- n Forces Armées de la République Dé- The UN is necessary but not sufficient. ern Congo. This influx had a profound ef- mocratique du Congo (FARDC): The n Tutsi-led rebels: Since 1995, there has fect on the politics of the entire sub-region. Congolese government army, under the always been a Tutsi-dominated force in long-time dictator Mobutu Sese Seko eastern Congo. It has usually been publi- Where is the conflict centred? (who ruled from 1965 until his death in cally led by Congolese Tutsis (known as Most of the fighting in Congo takes place 1997), was kept deliberately weak and Banyamulenge) but supported by their in the eastern provinces of North and South divided to prevent military coups. Some ethnic cousins now in power in Rwanda. Kivu – or has its roots there. brigades are still little more than collec- The right to citizenship of Congolese The arrival in Congo in 1994 of so many tions of formerly bitter enemies. FARDC Tutsis has sometimes been questioned by Hutus confirmed the eastern region of the soldiers loot when necessary – because Congolese ‘nationalists’ – hence the Tut- country as the key battleground of central their officers often don’t feed or pay them. sis’ perceived need to defend themselves. Africa. Rwanda wants to protect itself from n Mission de l’Organisation des Na- The first Tutsi-backed rebels were led any lingering efforts by Hutus to extermi- tions Unies pour la Stabilisation en by the soon-to-be-president, Laurent- nate Tutsis by creating a buffer in the Ki- République Démocratique du Congo Désiré Kabila (not himself a Tutsi). vus. Congo, for nationalist reasons, needs to (MONUSCO): The UN force, currently Rwanda more or less openly backed show it is resisting dominance by Rwanda, numbering 22,000, is the glue that has Kabila and helped him to power in Kin- its embarrassingly smaller, though clearly on many occasions held Congo together. shasa in what could be called the ‘First Turbulent times 1960s 1960, June: Belgium 1960, July: Lower 1960, Sept: Kasavubu 1961, Jan: Mobutu 1963, Jan: UN ends agrees reluctantly to ranks in the army mutiny dismisses Lumumba as sends Lumumba to Katangan secession. a hasty schedule for against Belgian officers prime minister after the Katanga where he is independence. After and attack European latter requests Soviet tortured and killed in 1964, Aug: Rebel elections in May, targets leading to military assistance. Army chief the presence of Belgian regime takes control of contested by many intervention by Belgian Joseph Mobutu arrests officers. Stanleyville (Kisangani), regionally based parties, forces. The secession Lumumba, who then sparking a new round of independence is declared of mineral-rich Katanga escapes. 1961, Aug-Sept: UN foreign-backed conflict on 30 June with Joseph is declared by Moïse troops begin disarming involving the USA, USSR, Kasavubu as president Tshombe. The UN Katangan soldiers, China and Cuba. and Patrice Lumumba as Security Council sends in but country remains prime minister. troops, but with a weak fragmented in four zones. 1965, Nov: Mobutu mandate. UN Secretary-General seizes power from Dag Hammarskjöld Kasavubu (with US and killed in plane crash in other Western support) Zambia during attempt to and governs as absolute 1960, Dec: Troops negotiate with Tshombe. dictator. loyal to Mobutu recapture Lumumba. 70 lwww.global-briefing.org fourth quarter 2012global


Global issue 12
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