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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 http://www.africaaction.org
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 (http://www.crisisweb.org). The full
interview with Dr. Ntalaja, along with other news, is available on
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
http://www.africafocus.org/docs02/us0205.php>, as well as a press
release at http://www.africaaction.org/desk
International Crisis Group (http://www.crisisweb.org)
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
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
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY AND RECOMMENDATIONS
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.