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Note: This document is from the archive of the Africa Policy E-Journal, published by the Africa Policy Information Center (APIC) from 1995 to 2001 and by Africa Action from 2001 to 2003. APIC was merged into Africa Action in 2001. Please note that many outdated links in this archived document may not work.

Congo (Kinshasa): Crisisweb Update

Congo (Kinshasa): Crisisweb Update
Date distributed (ymd): 010109
Document reposted by APIC

+++++++++++++++++++++Document Profile+++++++++++++++++++++

Region: Central Africa
Issue Areas: +political/rights+ +economy/development+ +security/peace+
Summary Contents:
This posting contains the executive summary and the introduction from a 124-page report in December on the war in the Democratic Republic of Congo, released in Nairobi and Brussels by the International Crisis Group. The report characterizes the Lusaka peace agreement there as 'stillborn,' but still the necessary basis for new efforts for peace. It makes specific recommendations to improve the chances of re-starting a meaningful peace process, addressed to the UN Security Council, to donor countries and to the foreign parties involved in the war.

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Scramble for the Congo: Anatomy of an Ugly War

20 December 2000

149 Avenue Louise, Level 16, B-1050 Brussels, Belgium Tel: +32-2-502 90 38, Fax: +32-2-502 50 38, Email:

1522 K Street, Suite 200, Washington, DC 20005 USA, Tel: +1-202-408-8012, Fax: +1-202-408-8258, Email:

For the full report, see:


The Lusaka Ceasefire Agreement, signed eighteen months ago to stop the war in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), has proved hollow. The accord largely froze the armies in their positions, but did not stop the fighting. The mandated United Nations observers, who were to oversee the disengagement of forces, have remained unable to deploy for the most part due to the continuation of hostilities. Similarly, the Inter-Congolese Dialogue, that was to have brought a 'new political dispensation' to the Congo, appears stillborn.

Faced with this impasse in the peace process, the Congo has begun to fragment. Throughout the country a humanitarian catastrophe is underway. The fighting has already cost the lives of hundreds of thousands, and an estimated additional two million Congolese have been displaced as a result. The violence has also encouraged ethnic militarism to grow, and the east of the country has already been transformed into a patchwork of warlords' fiefdoms. The territorial integrity of the Congo is threatened, as will in time be the stability of its nine neighbours if the chaos continues.

The failure of the Lusaka Ceasefire has been due to an absence of leadership. The agreement depended entirely upon the cooperation of the parties to succeed. Tragically, none of the signatories fulfilled what they had pledged. Each suspected the others of a double game, and used its suspicions to justify its own duplicity. Since the belligerents themselves were the ones responsible for policing the agreement, and since there was no external guarantor to compel their compliance, the agreement quickly became empty.

Today it remains only as a reference document, at hand for when the belligerents come to realize that they have no other options. At present this is not yet the case. All are determined to persist with their military adventurism precisely because they have so far failed to accomplish their war objectives. They all need to recoup something for the investment of blood and treasure they so foolishly squandered in the Congo. They all want to win, despite the fact that winning is no longer possible. Rwanda and Uganda's second war in the Congo has seriously endangered their own stability. The lightning strike they unleashed in August 1998 to overthrow Kabila has since become of a war of occupation, and risks becoming an unsustainable war of attrition. Energies and funds that each need to spend on economic development have been redirected towards their growing defence budgets. And, under the weight of the ongoing humanitarian crisis in Eastern DRC, and the repeated clashes between their forces in Kisangani, the reputations of Rwanda and Uganda's leaders have plummeted.

The war has been no better for Kabila's allies. The DRC President's adamant refusal to accept MONUC's deployment, and preference for sharing the country rather than sharing power, has trapped Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe in the Congo. Now the Harare strongman has little room left to manoeuvre, unwilling to risk a unilateral and undignified withdrawal because of the internal economic and political unrest at home. Angola, on the other hand, has escaped paying the costs of its intervention so far. Its apparent success has tempted President Dos Santos to assert himself as a regional power-broker for West-Central Africa. He supports Kabila because he cannot permit the appearance of a strong and independent leader in Kinshasa. An imminent change in the military situation, however, is likely to call into question the success of this DRC policy, and reveal the limits of Angola's power. In power because there seems to be no other options, Kabila is only a ruler by default. The inadequate policies of the international community have contributed to this ongoing fragmentation of the Congo. Determined to stop the fighting, the world powers pressured the belligerents to sign the Lusaka ceasefire agreement. The document fitted especially well with the United States' preference for 'African solutions for an African problem'. The limits of this policy have now become clear. At present none of the belligerents has the power to escape the Congolese quagmire without help. ICG therefore recommends a stronger and more determined involvement of the world powers to revive the Lusaka peace process, ultimately restore the territorial sovereignty of the DRC and achieve regional security.




1, Pass a resolution to reconcile Security Council Resolution 1304 (2000) with the Lusaka ceasefire agreement, that de-links the disengagement and withdrawal of foreign forces, the disarmament of armed groups, and the Inter-Congolese Dialogue from one another, in order to permit each to achieve the maximum forward progress.

On Dialogue

2. Promote negotiations on power sharing and transition between the main players (Government/rebels/civil society): the Community of Sant Egidio and Belgian government would be the ideal facilitators.

3. Give greater moral, financial, and logistical support to the facilitator for the Inter-Congolese Dialogue, Sir Ketumile Masire, including the appointment of a francophone 'co-mediator' based in Kinshasa, and force Kabila and the rebels to permit him to conduct consultations throughout the DRC.

On Disengagement

4. Support the Maputo Process and the implementation of the Kampala disengagement plan as a first step to a phased withdrawal.

5. Pressure all countries involved in the war, and especially the Government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, to provide a secure environment in which additional MONUC MILOBS can be immediately deployed along the frontlines, as recommended by resolution 1332 (2000).

On Disarmament

6. Create an international structure, headed by a high level personality, to find solutions for the disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration (DDR) of the armed groups. This body would consult with the region, and the armed groups, in order to formulate a robust and realistic plan for DDR.

7. Pressure Kabila to allow the Burundian FDD to join their country's on-going Peace Process.

8. Pressure the countries at war in the DRC to invest more of their energies in domestic political reconciliation efforts, that in the end offer the only means to convince the rebel fighters to return home.

On Peace-building

9. Design a 'new humanitarian framework' to tackle the complex emergency unfolding in the DRC that follows the recommendations of the JMC resolution adopted in Lusaka in early December. This can be accomplished by establishing a separate humanitarian operations office under a UN Director for Congo Humanitarian Operations responsible for the formulation and co-ordination of a strategy for relief operations in both rebel and government territories.

10. Pressure Uganda and Rwanda to give compensation for the destruction of Kisangani as called for in Security Council Resolution 1304 (2000).


11. Link the foreign belligerents' commitment to the DRC peace process together with their illegal exploitation of the nation's wealth - to scrutiny of their domestic economic performance and record of 'good governance' in order to assess their qualification for financial aid, debt relief and trade agreements.

12. Pressure SADC countries to compel Kabila to comply with the implementation of the Lusaka agreement. Means to accomplish this include restricting the quantity of fuel the DRC imports, and limiting the amount of SADC military support his regime receives.


13. Recognize that the Lusaka process offers the only way out of the DRC quagmire, with all parties being involved in systematic negotiations as opposed to military endgames or ad hoc, back-room contacts.

14. Provide MONUC MILOBS with the minimum guarantees needed to deploy in the field, especially so that the unarmed UN observers can work unhindered.

15. Restore support to the JMC, by calling regular monthly Political Committee meetings, pushing for further deployment of teams in the field and implementing the 8 April Kampala Disengagement Plan.

16. Assist Masire's office to prepare for the Inter-Congolese Dialogue by providing access to all parties and DRC territory.

17. Step up sincere domestic reconciliation efforts to end political or ethnic rivalries that have spilled over into the DRC and drawn them into an ever-widening conflict.

Nairobi/Brussels, 20 December 2000


In July and August 1999, six Heads of State and over fifty rebels leaders signed a ceasefire in Lusaka, Zambia, to end the fighting in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) Africa's first continental scale war. Tragically, the fighting never stopped.

The war is said to be a Congolese civil war between DRC President Laurent-Desir‚ Kabila and a rabble of different rebel movements. In fact, it is also chaotic mix of other peoples' wars, which together have overtaken the remnants of the country its disgraced and defeated former ruler, Mobutu Sese Seko, left behind when he fled in 1996. At one level it is a conflict between two regional alliances a 'Great Lakes' alliance of Rwanda, Uganda, and Burundi, versus one of Angola, Zimbabwe, and Namibia. On another level, it is a violent mixture of national civil wars, including those of Rwanda, Uganda, Burundi, and Angola, all of which are partly fought on Congolese soil. Finally, in the midst of this chaos, the Congo's own stew of local ethnic feuds has sparked an explosion of bloodshed in the eastern part of the country. All of these conflicts feed and reinforce one another, and together risk to transform the Congo into a patchwork of warlord's fiefdoms.

The Lusaka agreement outlined both military and political measures to bring peace to the Congo. Unfortunately it was never a very realistic document. It called for the deployment of 'an appropriate' UN Chapter VII peacekeeping force to help implement the ceasefire, as well as track down and disarm militias, and screen them for war criminals. For the interim period prior to the UN deployment however, the Agreement assigned the belligerents themselves with the task of policing the disengagement of forces. This was to be done under the auspices of a Joint Military Commission (JMC), composed of two representatives from each signatory and a neutral OAU-appointed chairman, that reported to a Political Committee made up of the the combatants' Foreign and Defence Ministers.

On the political front the Lusaka Agreement envisioned a National Dialogue that would deliver 'a new political dispensation' to the Congo. The aims of this Dialogue would include the organisation of democratic elections, the formation of a new national army and the re-establishment of state administration throughout the country. President Kabila, the two factions of the rebel Rassemblement Congolais pour la D‚mocratie (RCD), the rebel Mouvement pour la Lib‚ration du Congo (MLC), unarmed opposition groups, and civil society groups all would participate as equals under the aegis of a neutral, OAU appointed Facilitator.

This agreement was never implemented. At first it was undermined by the belligerents' own non-compliance with its terms. Now it may have become impossible for them to carry out what they promised, due to their mutual distrust for one another, as well as their illconcealed desires to pilfer the Congo's riches. Nevertheless, the principles of Lusaka remain as a reference for how the country might be put back together, should the resolve to do so be found.

The destruction of the war has surpassed the expectations of all the belligerents. What they all thought would be a rapid contest has become a bloody and expensive stalemate. Moreover, the alliances with which they began the war, have either collapsed in bloody in-fighting, or have withered away as a result of foreign reluctance to fight the Congolese's own battles. As a result no one has the power to win the war. The current impasse however, will not last. Each country faces the risk of defeat due to the Congo war's corrosive effects upon state institutions (such as disciplined standing armies) and national economies. In addition each faces the ever-present threat of bad luck on the battlefield.

In December 2000 it appears that fortune favours Rwanda and Uganda. Since August the Kampala backed MLC have threatened the key Congo River town of Mbandaka - and by extension Kinshasa four days down river. The Rwandans and their RCD allies have just decisively repulsed a Forces Arm‚es Congolaises (FAC) offensive in Katanga, and have captured the important border town of Pweto. Good fortune in war however, breeds over-confidence and risk taking. Both Uganda, and Rwanda, may believe that they can overcome the stalemate, and win a military victory in the Congo. Desperate to salvage success from the stalemate, they may accept this gamble and suffer defeat as a consequence.

Similarly, Kabila's defeats make him look weak at present. This does not mean however that his allies will accept his and their defeat. Common interests between them and Kabila have grown-up in the more than two years of war. As a consequence, they have incentives to stand by the government in Kinshasa. In this report, ICG gives a comprehensive analysis of the intertwined dimensions of the Congo conflict and offers some concrete proposals on how to revive a meaningful peace process.

This material is being reposted for wider distribution by the Africa Policy Information Center (APIC). APIC provides accessible information and analysis in order to promote U.S. and international policies toward Africa that advance economic, political and social justice and the full spectrum of human rights.

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