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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 Please note that many outdated links in this archived document may not work.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): Peace Update

Congo (Kinshasa): Peace Update
Date distributed (ymd): 010425
Document reposted by APIC

Africa Policy Electronic Distribution List: an information service provided by AFRICA ACTION (incorporating the Africa Policy Information Center, The Africa Fund, and the American Committee on Africa). Find more information for action for Africa at

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

Region: Central Africa
Issue Areas: +political/rights+ +security/peace+


This posting contains two documents relating to recent developments in the peace process in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. One is the executive summary of a March report by the International Crisis Group, and the second is brief excerpts on the role of civil society from the January-March Info Congo/Kinshasa, produced by the Table De Concertation Sur Les Droits Humains au Congo/Kinshasa in Canada. Addresses for more complete information from the two groups is given below.

Developments subsequent to the two documents below include the further deployment of UN peacekeeping forces in the Congo to Kisangani, the return of opposition leader Etienne Tshisekedi to Kinshasa, and an April 12 report by a UN expert group on "Illegal Exploitation of Natural Resources". The latter report, found at, lays out considerable detailed documentation on exploitation of natural resources by Uganda, Rwanda and their Congolese allies in eastern Congo. Criticized by Uganda and Rwanda as one-sided, the report contains only limited information on Zimbabwe and other allies of the Kabila government, and the report's authors acknowledge in the report that they did not have comparable access to data for Zimbabwe, Angola and Namibia.

For additional current information, see news reports at

Current reports from Human Rights Watch can be found at:

The latest UN Security Council resolution, of February 22, 2001, urging more rapid implementation of the peace process in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, can be found at:

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International Crisis Group

From Kabila to Kabila: Prospects for Peace in the Congo

For full report see:

March 16, 2001


Joseph Kabila, son of the late Laurent D‚sir‚ Kabila, speaks a far more peaceful language than that of his bellicose father. But he will not be able to deliver peace alone, and there are already signs that the many parties to the war in the Democratic Republic of Congo are heading for renewed confrontation. In a Congo that continues to fragment, Kabila's patrons and his enemies are beginning to quarrel among themselves. What looms are a series of battles as the factions struggle for influence and spoils.

The assassination of Laurent Kabila on 16 January 2001 and the appointment of his son Joseph as President of the DRC brought fresh hope to the stalled Lusaka Peace process. The new president swiftly agreed to the deployment of a United Nations military observer force (MONUC) to oversee troop withdrawals, and he approved the appointment of Sir Ketumile Masire to open a vital Inter-Congolese Dialogue. There has also been contact between Kabila and Rwandan President Paul Kagame, his father's old enemy, on disarmament of the forces associated with the Rwandan genocide of 1994, who found refuge in Congo. The UN Security Council hailed these gestures of goodwill by approving the deployment of MONUC in February to verify disengagement of forces, and almost immediately Rwandan and Ugandan forces began some troop withdrawals.

But these positive steps on disarmament and disengagement are being undermined by the ongoing political struggle for influence and access to resources, which will make the Inter-Congolese Dialogue a very difficult exercise. It is still not clear how strong Joseph Kabila's true commitment to the peace process is, nor the extent of his real influence over the DRC's ruling elite. Kabila's nominal allies, Angola and Zimbabwe, deeply mistrustful of each other, are trying to push their own interests through Congolese proxies. Zimbabwe, suspicious of the security breach that enabled Laurent Kabila to be killed, has detained numerous Congolese associated with Angola, including Eddy Kapend, the military officer who appeared on television shortly after the assassination calling for calm.

The rifts between former allies are not confined to the pro-Kabila side. Rwanda and Uganda, once united against Laurent Kabila, are showing further signs that their relationship has frayed. President Yoweri Museveni recently called Rwanda a "hostile state," accusing it of giving financial support to his domestic political opponents during the recent elections. In turn, Rwanda has accused Uganda of harbouring some of President Kagame's opponents.

In Kinshasa, hardliners are back in control of the government, opposing any dialogue with anti-government rebels until there is a total military withdrawal of all foreign forces. The rebels, backed by Rwanda and Uganda, refuse any dialogue without a power-sharing agreement. Frustrated by the lack of progress, the powerful Ugandan-backed rebel leader Jean-Pierre Bemba has already threatened to reopen fighting. There appears, therefore, to be long odds against the Inter-Congolese Dialogue ever starting. If it does begin, it is likely to become a new theatre for strife between all the competing interests.

The success of the Lusaka process is critical for lasting peace in Congo and all of Central Africa. This giant land is a state in name only. Its structures are destroyed and regions fragmented between enemies and friends. It urgently needs a power-sharing agreement that includes unarmed opposition groups and rebel representatives as well as pro-Kabila factions. It needs a government of transition and a new constitution. None can be achieved without vigilance and support from all parties involved and the international community.

Strict conditions over assistance to Joseph Kabila must be enforced to overcome the political resistance to an Inter-Congolese Dialogue. Failure to act will mean a resumption of hostilities, a war of succession and further fragmentation of the country into semi-permanent spheres of military influence and the certainty of worse crises to come.



On Disengagement

  1. Maintain pressure on the belligerents to disengage their forces under the terms of the Kampala and Harare Disengagement Plans.
  2. Maintain pressure on Rwanda and Uganda on the one hand, and Angola and Zimbabwe on the other, to negotiate in good faith on complete withdrawal of their forces from the DRC. Such pressure can be maintained through reassessments of their qualifications to receive military and financial aid, debt relief and trade privileges.
  3. On Dialogue
  4. Give provisional support, including the progressive resumption of development aid, to Joseph Kabila's regime on condition that: 1) he liberalises political activities and frees political prisoners; 2) he guarantees freedom of movement to all participants to the Inter-Congolese Dialogue as well as a peaceful working environment for Ketumile Masire's team in Kinshasa; 3) he agrees to participate in the Inter-Congolese Dialogue as outlined in the Lusaka Cease-fire Agreement by supporting its preliminary and preparatory steps and consistently supporting Masire's activities.
  5. Pressure the new government to immediately cease the repression of Kivutians and Equatorians on the territory it controls.
  6. Pressure Rwanda and Uganda to have the RCD and FLC respect freedom of association in the territory they control and guarantee political party and civil society representatives' freedom of movement to meet Ketumile Masire's team.
  7. Pressure Rwanda and Uganda to respect International Humanitarian Law in the Eastern DRC and to have the RCD and FLC arrest human rights abusers within their ranks and discipline them severely.

On Disarmament

  1. Pressure the new government and its allies to immediately cease support of the ex-FAR and FDD factions and to encourage the FDD to join the Burundi peace process.
  2. Direct the UN Observer Mission, MONUC, to commence planning for a comprehensive disarmament, demobilisation, resettlement, and reintegration (DDRR) process of armed groups in the eastern DRC.
  3. Implement UN Security Council Resolutions 918 (1994), 997 (1995), 1011 (1995), and 1341 (2001), as well as the recommendations of the report of the UN Commission of Enquiry on Rwanda (1997), which together provide a legal basis for the resumption of an arms embargo against the ex-FAR.


10. Immediately stop supporting the "negative forces" and co-operate as quickly as possible with MONUC in order to assess the needs for a major DDRR exercise.

11. Comply with the Kampala and Harare disengagement plan and start withdrawing from DRC.

12. Help the Inter-Congolese Dialogue by identifying the key interests to be negotiated in order to have a stable government emerge.

Nairobi/Brussels, 16 March 2001

Information document produced by the TABLE DE CONCERTATION SUR LES DROITS HUMAINS AU CONGO/KINSHASA Entraide missionnaire, 15 De Castelnau Ouest, Montreal (Qc), Canada H2R 2W3 Tel. (514) 270-6089 Fax 270-6156 Email

The English version of Info-Congo/Kinshasa can be obtained from Inter-Church Coalition on Africa (ICCAF), 129 St.Clair Avenue West, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, M4V 1N5, by enclosing a cheque or postal order drawn on a Canadian or American bank: $15 for a Canadian subscription and $20 for outside Canada Tel: (416) 927-1124. Fax: (416) 927-7554. Email:

[brief excerpts only; for full version write to the addresses above For additional information see also].

January, February, March 2001 Nos 165-166-167


Many now believe that the inter-Congolese dialogue promised by President Joseph Kabila will take place. Now accepted by Kabila, whom he met in Tripoli (Libya) at a recent OAU summit, Masire has just visited Kinshasa. At the end of his meeting with the president on March 18, he announced that he shared with him "similar views on the inter-Congolese dialogue." There were no more obstacles, and starting in April, the mediator would, as planned, start the preparatory work which, had all gone according to plan, should have been accomplished in Benin over the last year. One of the principal obstacles, the status of the present president of the Congo at the dialogue, seems to have been removed.

Contrary to the stipulations of the text of the Lusaka Accord and to opposition demands that the president should be just another representative of one of the conflicting parties at the inter-Congolese dialogue, Masire gave way to demands from Kinshasa, and no doubt pressure from its allies. At the end of his meeting with Joseph Kabila, Facilitator Masire announced, "he is the president of the Republic and, at the dialogue, he will still be the president of the Republic." This is a major concession to Kinshasa, which leads one to believe that another concession could be obtained in the inter-Congolese dialogue, giving the current president the responsibility of leading the transition up to the elections which he has promised to organize as soon as the foreign troops leave.

But a second concession has been made on the subject of co-facilitation. After the question of his being unilingual was raised, and the former president sollicited the president of Gabon to organize the inter-Congolese dialogue at Libreville, Masire seems to have accepted the proposal of a joint facilitation with Omar Bongo.

It will be recalled that on December 11 last, Kabila Senior met with different Congolese figures, from the political parties, special interest groups, and Kinshasa religious communities. This meeting produced the idea of organizing a national forum on the democratization of the Congo. To the observers, the forum seemed to have a double objective: " to confirm the national cohesion ... necessary to confront the enemies of the Congolese people" as Kabila insisted, but above all to exploit the French/English rivalry in the region, to thwart Masire and to take the initiative with a parallel forum which Kinshasa would control.

At the first session convoked on December 20 in Libreville, nearly 200 Congolese, representing the goverment, the rebel groups, parliament, the opposition and members of civil society were present. But "given the absence of numerous significant persons from outside the Congo at the Libreville meeting, the Gabon and Congo heads of state [decided], in spite of the presence of important people from inside the Congo, to put off the start of the meeting until January 2001." President Bongo was asked to "make useful contacts with the leading figures of the exterior opposition, including the armed rebellion." Because of Joseph Kabila's advent, it is unlikely there will be a follow up.


Fifty nine non-governmental organizations, networks, and different associations representing civil society, met on February 5. They put forward 27 proposals to the new government: among them, a firm promise to hold the National dialogue in 3 months, the modification of the decrees pertaining to political parties and non-profit organizations, the dissolution of the present National Assembly and structures like the Committees of Popular Power (CPP), liberalization of the media, the suppression of the Military Court, the freeing of political prisoners and the payment of wages owed to civil servants. The associations also insisted on appointing their own representatives to the National dialogue.

To calm the situation, the new government decided to call the leading lights of the political parties and civil society to a conference on the country's political future. The first meeting, planned for March 1, had to be cancelled for lack of participants. A second, convoked on March 12, had a very limited success, since the principal political parties, like the UDPS, the PDSC, the FONUS, and the MPR(Fait Prive) declined the invitation. They refused to take part in the kind of meeting whose goals are uncertain. The Catholic church delegated 3 bishops from its permanent committee still in Kinshasa after a conference from February 26 to March 3. In individual meetings with the president, since no group session was planned, they presented some of the points from the assembly's final report, among them making youth education a priority, the reorganization of public health and transportation services, and an end to the lack of security caused by soldiers and police.

Diplomatically, the new government formed a joint committee, with equal representatives of government, political parties and civil society, charged with presenting realistic ways to reintroduce political activities.

The new government, which was not slow to open channels of communication with the armed opposition and the countries supporting it, has been in no hurry to share the political arena with the unarmed opposition. This opposition, divided, and without the ability to exert much pressure, is not a real threat at the moment. No doubt this is the message coming from the presidents of the allied countries. ...


Kinshasa's civil society continues to be the target of security forces. ...

This repression aimed at civil rights militants has been vigorously condemned by Roberto Garreton, the UN Special Rapporteur for the Congo for the Commission for Human Rights at Geneva. He visited the Congo from March 11 to 21 and will shortly present a detailed report. But he has already indicated some of his findings. "The situation of the defenders of civil rights is precarious and dangerous," he declared. "Throughout the country, they are persecuted, arrested, harassed, and their offices closed down. In the areas controlled by Kinshasa, they are considered Rwandan allies, and in areas controlled by the rebels they are seen as Kabila's allies.

March 30, 2001

Contributors to this issue: Kadari Mwene Kabyana and Denis Tougas. English translation by M.Dowler

This material is being reposted for wider distribution by Africa Action (incorporating the Africa Policy Information Center, The Africa Fund, and the American Committee on Africa). Africa Action's information services provide 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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