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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 Please note that many outdated links in this archived document may not work.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 Process Commentary Congo (Kinshasa): Peace Process Commentary
Date distributed (ymd): 020519
Document reposted by Africa Action

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

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


This posting contains two documents on the Congolese peace process: (1) the press release and executive summary from a May 14 report by the International Crisis Group (ICG), and (2) excerpts from an interview with Congolese scholar and pro-democracy activist Dr. Georges Nzongola Ntalaja. The full IGC report (in French) is available on the ICG web site ( The full interview with Dr. Ntalaja, along with other news, is available on

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Africa Action Update Note
May 19, 2002

The letter to U.S. Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill initiated by Africa Action and TransAfrica Forum was signed by 110 organizations before it was sent to Secretary O'Neill on May 17. The letter, with a full list of signatories, will be available on May 20 at>, as well as a press release at

International Crisis Group (

May 14, 2002


Storm clouds over Congo peace process
Vital roles for President Mbeki and the U

Nairobi/Brussels, 14 May 2002: The Inter-Congolese dialogue held at Sun City in South Africa, which lasted more than seven weeks, finally produced a partial agreement on a transition government for the Democratic Republic of Congo on 19 April. After years of war, the accord reached between President Joseph Kabila and Jean-Pierre Bemba of the MLC (Mouvement pour la lib‚ration du Congo) marks an important new political alignment.

However ICG's Africa program Co-Director Fabienne Hara said: "Despite the agreement, the negotiations are far from complete and the future of the Democratic Republic of Congo remains uncertain. The talks left the RCD (Rassemblement congolais pour la D‚mocratie) and its military ally Rwanda isolated, threatening renewed hostilities and even partition. Strong international leadership will be essential to reach an all-inclusive agreement."

A new ICG report, Storm Clouds Over Sun City: The Urgent Need to Recast the Congolese Peace Process, calls for South African President Thabo Mbeki to be entrusted with mediating the conclusion of the Inter-Congolese dialogue, but only upon agreement of all the Congolese parties. At the same time the South African leader should be given a mandate to obtain a preliminary accord with the countries that have occupied the Congo (Rwanda, Uganda, Angola and Zimbabwe) on support for the transitional government and withdrawal of their troops.

The Sun City talks, while not conclusive, have put important issues on the table - notably Rwanda's security and the broader economic and security topics at the heart of the conflict. United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan is, therefore, urged to appoint a new high-profile Special Envoy to supervise the implementation of the political transition, to ensure cooperation between the various U institutions involved in Rwanda and in the Congolese peace process (ICTR, MONUC, the expert panel on the illegal exploitation of natural resources in the DRC), and to establish the framework for a conference to conclude a security pact between the states of the Great Lakes region.

ICG Central Africa Project Director Dr Francois Grignon said: "Now is the time to press forward on the disarmament of the Rwanda Hutu militias based in the DRC, as well as the withdrawal of the RPA (Rwandan Patriotic Army) from the DRC itself. A UN Special Envoy would play a key role in this, and in helping to address the long-term security of the region, especially the reconstruction of the Congolese state and the rights and responsibilities of that state."

Media contacts:
Katy Cronin (London) +44-(0)20-86 82 93 51
Heather Hurlburt (Washington) +1-202-408 8012

Storm Clouds Over Sun City:
The Urgent Need To Recast The Congolese Peace Process


After seven weeks of negotiations at Sun City, a partial agreement was reached on 19 April 2002 between Jean-Pierre Bemba's MLC (Mouvement pour la lib‚ration du Congo) and the government of Joseph Kabila. The agreement represents the end of the Inter-Congolese Dialogue in the context of the Lusaka peace accords. However confusion reigns. The negotiations are not complete and the future of the Democratic Republic of Congo remains uncertain.

The accord, struck by the majority of delegates from unarmed opposition groups and civil society, and approved by Angola, Uganda and Zimbabwe, is the beginning of a political realignment in the DRC conflict. Most notably it heralds the end of the anti-Kabila coalition and confirms the isolation of the RCD (Rassemblement congolais pour la D‚mocratie) and its ally Rwanda. The Kabila government and the MLC actually concluded the accord by default, due to the intransigence of the RCD on the question of power sharing in Kinshasa, and, in the background, the failed negotiations between the governments of the DRC and Rwanda over the disarmament of the Hutu rebels known as ALiR (Arm‚e pour la lib‚ration du Rwanda). This accord transformed the discussions between the Lusaka signatories into a bilateral negotiation with a Kabila-Bemba axis backed by the international community on one side, and a politically weak RCD, backed by a militarily strong Rwanda on the other.

The new partners announced that they would install a transition government in Kinshasa on 15 June, declared the Lusaka accords 'dead' but committed themselves to continuing negotiations with the RCD and Rwanda. The RCD, its cohesion and existence threatened, tried to break its isolation by forming an alliance with the UDPS (Union pour la d‚mocratie et le progrŠs social) of Etienne Tshisekedi, and is talking up threats of renewed hostilities and partition of the country.

It is highly desirable that negotiations with the RCD be finalised before the transition government is installed. President Mbeki of South Africa, as next president of the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) and of the African Union (AU), should become joint leader of the process, on condition that he receives a clear mandate from the parties to the dialogue and from the regional countries that have given their support to the Kabila-Bemba partnership, i.e. Angola and Uganda. The neutrality of South Africa has indeed been questioned by the Congolese who were stung by its apparent support for the RCD at Sun City.

The Sun City talks may also mark the beginning of a real regional discussion on the security and economic issues at the heart of the Congolese conflict. In particular, the issue of Rwanda's security is finally on the table - the disarmament of the Rwanda Hutu militias based in the DRC - as well as the issue of the Congo's security - the withdrawal of the RPA (Rwandan Patriotic Army) from the DRC itself. These are both part of the Lusaka accords. It is also time to discuss the long-term security of the region, especially the reconstruction of the Congolese state, and the rights and responsibilities of that state.

As soon as a political accord on power sharing is reached, the indispensable coordination of all these different dimensions of the peace process should be assured by the appointment of a high-profile Special Envoy of the United Nations' Secretary-General. The mandate of the Special Envoy should be to supervise the implementation of an inclusive agreement on political transition; to coordinate UN activities on DDRRR (disarmament, demobilisation, repatriation, reintegration, and resettlement of armed groups); to ensure cooperation between the various U institutions involved in the Rwandan and Congolese peace processes (ICTR, MONUC, the expert panel on the illegal exploitation of natural resources in the DRC); and to prepare the agenda for a regional conference on security and sustainable development in the Great Lakes.


To the Signatories of the Lusaka Peace Accords and Members Of The Joint Military Commission:

1. Entrust President Mbeki with mediating the conclusion of the Inter-Congolese Dialogue. This process could build on results obtained by the facilitator of the Lusaka process, Ketumile Masire. It should also be based on a compromise between the power-sharing proposal known as 'Mbeki II' and the accord struck between the Congolese government and the MLC.

2. Give the mediator a mandate to obtain a preliminary accord between Rwanda, Uganda, Angola and Zimbabwe on conditions to be met for them to support a transitional power-sharing agreement in the DRC. Once this agreement is obtained, the new mediator could once again bring together the parties to the Inter-Congolese Dialogue and finalise an inclusive power-sharing agreement.

3. Immediately cease all military deployments that could reignite hostilities, and any resupply of armed groups in the Kivus.

To the Secretary General of the United Nations:

4. Appoint a high-profile Special Envoy for the Great Lakes with the responsibility to guide and press for the application of the Lusaka peace accords and to ensure cooperation between the various UN institutions involved in the Rwanda and in the Congolese peace process.

5. Give the new Special Envoy a concurrent mandate to negotiate between Rwanda, the government of DRC, Angola, Uganda and Zimbabwe on the application of a DDRRR program as well as the permanent withdrawal of all foreign troops from the Congo.

6. Equip MONUC with a specialist conflict resolution team to assist humanitarian aid agencies in gaining access to the Kivu and Ituri regions and to establish reconciliation programs between local communities.

To the Government of the DRC, the MLC and Their Respective Allies:

7. As a crucial test of credibility, immediately arrest and deliver to Arusha the leaders of ALiR who are wanted by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda and suspend all supply of ALiR forces on Congolese territory.

Brussels/Nairobi, 14 May 2002

Congo's Situation is As Grave As Palestine's - Professor Ntalaja

Daily Trust (Abuja)


May 14, 2002

Excerpts only. Full interview available at:

Professor Georges Nzongola Ntalaja is an academic from war-torn Democratic Republic of Congo. Until recently he was the UNDP Senior Special Adviser for Governance in Abuja. The articulate professor, in this interview with Musa Aliyu and Jibril Abubakar, spoke his mind on the peace initiatives in Congo ...

DT: Sir, how is the peace process in Congo now that we have young Joseph Kabila leading the country after many years of war?

Ntalaja: Joseph Kabila is not a free agent. Who put him in power? We don't know. We were told that the cabinet met and chose him as President. This cabinet where did it get its authority to name a president? Secondly they claim that they came to power through armed struggle. So they stay because no one has defeated them militarily. Is that the basis on which to claim legitimacy? Certainly legitimacy has to come through a democratic process. And before we get a democratic process at least there has to be a consensus among the political class. This is what the interCongolese dialogue was supposed to be.

But Kabila insists on keeping his power. He insists on making no compromise. Then he strikes a deal with Jean-Pierre Bemba's Congolese Liberation Movement supported by Uganda. That excludes other players in the political scene.

In a dialogue that was supposed to comprise five components, two rebel movements, Bemba's M.L.C. as well as the Rwandan-backed Congolese Rally for Democracy, the non-armed opposition groups, political parties, led by the UDPS but comprising of other parties, civil society organizations and the government. But they go and make a power-schedule between the government and one rebel group. That's no solution. And after 52 weeks of spending South Africa's taxpayer's money and other international contributions, doing this is a great disservice to our people and Africa.

DT: As you pointed out, Joseph Kabila's government claims its legitimacy from its military strength. But the truth is that since it is in control of the state and its apparatuses of coercion it can claim its legitimacy is valid. Do you see democracy playing any meaningful role here?

Ntalaja: That position as far as I am concerned is a defeatist position. Why? Because they don't control the whole country. They control less than half of the national territories so how can a nationalist government be satisfied controlling a portion of the country rather than controlling the entire country?

The solution is a comprehensive political compromise to which all the components of the Congolese society agrees. That's the way forward. This is what we attempted to do at the sovereign national conference in 1992. This is what we attempted to do today through the inter-Congolese dialogue. There has to be an agreement among all the political players in the country as to the minimum programme of government for the transition, as to the individuals who are going to run the country during the transition. And this is really including power-sharing formula where everyone is represented. There have to be all Congolese political players in this transitional system. ...

DT: Despite efforts by OAU and other concerned Africans, peace still eludes Congo. Do you intend to seek assistance elsewhere?

Ntalaja: No. I think this is an African problem that needs an African solution. The OAU has tried and I don't see its efforts as a waste of time. Because I remember that under the Lusaka agreement, the OAU was given the task to appoint a neutral facilitator for inter-Congolese dialogue and OAU chose President Masire before President Obasanjo. So he is working under the authority of the OAU so the inter-Congolese dialogue is summoned and being held under the authority of the OAU. And South Africa and SADC are being engaged because Congo is a member of SADC which is also presently trying to broker an agreement in Sun City. So I wouldn't say that all African efforts have failed. As you know negotiations do take time. They take a long time because the parties to the dispute must canvass that their interests are being advanced. They're simply not going to give up. But one does not have to lose hope that this process would go on. What we hope is that these people would look farther than their own interests and put the country's general interests, peoples' interests. Patriotic concerns should take over their individualistic political interests.

Ntalaja: Yes the international community has a role to play. And of course they are partly responsible for our troubles, Belgium, the US and France in the first place. So any support they can give us is fine so long as that support is not being given with the idea of controlling the process. ... This is what we want Belgium, France, the United States etc., .to support the African initiatives. Not to take initiatives of their own. Because if we have too many initiatives, that's a problem. Sometimes they may run at cross-purposes. ...

DT: With the dimension taken by the crisis in that whole region the implication must be grave for Africa. How would you analyse this?

Ntalaja: It is terrible. I gave the analysis in my paper yesterday. It is catastrophic. It has resulted in the death of over three million people. This is a crisis of monumental dimensions. And it is really unfortunate that the world community is not taking us seriously. Our situation is just as grave as the situation in Palestine, just as grave as the situation in Afghanistan. But we are not given half the attention given these other crises. ...

But we Africans too must stop crying that others have not done this or that for us. We can do it if there is the political will. We have the human, material and natural resources to do it. And we can do it. Take for example, the role played by Nigeria in solving the crises in Liberia and Sierra Leone. Without the political will of the leadership in this country those countries wouldn't have known peace. We should take the initiative in solving our own problems.

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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