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Perpetuation of instability in the Democratic Republic of the Congo: When the Kivus sneeze, Kinshasa catches a cold


Abstract and Figures

The current instability in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) can be traced back to late former President Mobutu Sese Seko’s rule during the late 1980s. The country’s economic depression was exacerbated by the end of the Cold War in 1991, leading to disengagement with the international economic and political system. The DRC has been the source of numerous conflicts over many years. The 1990s saw the country’s peace and security degenerate further, creating challenges that continue to preoccupy the world today. In recent times, the epicentre of the violence in the DRC has been North and South Kivu (the Kivus). The dynamics in the two provinces are complex, causing the Great Lakes region to be characterised by huge human security challenges. This paper aims to contribute to a better understanding of the linkage between the conflicts in the Kivus and persistent periodic instability in the DRC. It delves into and critiques post-crisis recovery efforts implemented in the country since the end of the Second Congo War. The paper concludes that, among other strategies, resolving the various conflicts in the DRC depends on understanding the causes of specific clashes, such as those in the Kivus, as this can contribute to the uncovering of sustainable solutions to armed confrontation. The paper offers proposals which, if implemented, could contribute to moving the Kivus, and by extension the DRC, beyond intractability.
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ISSUE 1, 2014
Perpetuation of instability in
the Democratic Republic of the
Congo: When the Kivus sneeze,
Kinshasa catches a cold
By Joyce Muraya and John Ahere
Perpetuation of instability in the
Democratic Republic of the Congo:
When the Kivus sneeze, Kinshasa
catches a cold
By Joyce Muraya and John Ahere
Occasional Paper Series: Issue 1, 2014
The African Centre for the Constructive Resolution of Disputes (ACCORD) is a
non-governmental organisation working throughout Africa to bring creative solutions to the
challenges posed by conflict on the continent. ACCORD’s primary aim is to influence political
developments by bringing conflict resolution, dialogue and institutional development to the
forefront as alternatives to armed violence and protracted conflict.
The authors extend their appreciation to all colleagues who supported the development and
finalisation of this paper, including Daniel Forti, Charles Nyuykonge and Sabrina Ensenbach
for their invaluable contributions to the paper’s structure and content and to Petronella
Mugoni for her assistance in formatting the paper. The authors also appreciate the cooperation
of colleagues in ACCORD’s Peacebuilding and Peacemaking units, for affording them the time
and space to conduct the research necessary for writing this publication.
About the authors
Joyce Muraya holds a Master of Arts degree in International Relations from the United States
International University in Nairobi, Kenya. Muraya served in Kenya’s Ministry of Foreign
Affairs for a year and a half and participated in a nine-month internship programme in the
Peacebuilding Unit at ACCORD. She has published on gender and women’s issues, with a focus
on women’s reproductive rights. Muraya can be reached via e-mail at
John Ahere is Senior Programme Officer in the Peacemaking Unit at ACCORD. His research
interests include international politics, as well as grassroots and cross-border conflict
transformation in Africa. Ahere has a Master of Arts degree in International Studies from the
University of Nairobi in Kenya, a Postgraduate Diploma in Project Management from the
Kenya Institute of Management, as well as a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science and
Sociology from the University of Nairobi. His book, The paradox that is diplomatic recognition:
Unpacking the Somaliland situation, was published in 2013 by Anchor Academic Publishing.
Ahere can be reached via e-mail at
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Acronyms and abbreviations 4
Abstract 6
Introduction 6
The DRC situation 9
Why do the conflicts in the DRC seem intractable? 17
Post-crisis recovery efforts in the DRC 28
Recommendations 33
Conclusion 36
References 38
Map of the DRC 44
Joyce Muraya and John Ahere
Acronyms and abbreviations
ACCORD African Centre for the Constructive Resolution of Disputes
AU African Union
ADFL Alliance of Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Congo
(Alliance de Forces Démocratiques pour la Libération
du Congo)
CAF Country Assistance Framework
CAR Central African Republic
CNDP National Congress for the Defence of the People (Congrès
National pour la Défense du Peuple)
DRC Democratic Republic of the Congo
FAR Rwandan Armed Forces (Forces Armées Rwandaises)
FARDC Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo
(Forces Armées de la République Démocratique du Congo)
FDD Forces for the Defence of Democracy (Forces pour la Défense
de la Démocratie)
FDLR Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (Forces
Démocratiques de Libération du Rwanda)
GPRSP Growth and Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper
ICGLR International Conference on the Great Lakes Region
ISSSS International Security and Stabilization Support Strategy
M23 March 23 Movement (Mouvement du 23-Mars)
MLC Movement for the Liberation of the Congo (Mouvement de
Libération Congolais)
MNCs Multinational Corporations
MONUC United Nations Organization Mission in the Democratic
Republic of the Congo
MONUSCO United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the
Democratic Republic of the Congo
NGOs Non-governmental Organisations
PRSP-I Interim Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper
Perpetuation of instability in the Democratic Republic of the Congo
RCD Congolese Rally for Democracy (Rassemblement Congolais
pour la Démocratie)
RCD-ML Congolese Rally for Democracy-Movement for Liberation
(Rassemblement Congolais pour la Démocratie-Mouvement
de Libération)
RCD-N Congolese Rally for Democracy-National (Rassemblement
Congolais pour la Démocratie-National)
RDF Rwanda Defence Force
RPA Rwandan Patriotic Army
RPF Rwandan Patriotic Front
STAREC Stabilisation and Reconstruction Plan for War-affected Areas
UN United Nations
UNSC United Nations Security Council
UNSSSS UN Security and Stabilization Support Strategy
Joyce Muraya and John Ahere
The current instability in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) can
be traced back to late former President Mobutu Sese Seko’s rule during the late
1980s. The country’s economic depression was exacerbated by the end of the
Cold War in 1991, leading to disengagement with the international economic
and political system. The DRC has been the source of numerous conflicts over
many years. The 1990s saw the country’s peace and security degenerate further,
creating challenges that continue to preoccupy the world today. In recent
times, the epicentre of the violence in the DRC has been North and South Kivu
(the Kivus). The dynamics in the two provinces are complex, causing the Great
Lakes region to be characterised by huge human security challenges. This paper
aims to contribute to a better understanding of the linkage between the conflicts
in the Kivus and persistent periodic instability in the DRC. It delves into and
critiques post-crisis recovery efforts implemented in the country since the end
of the Second Congo War. The paper concludes that, among other strategies,
resolving the various conflicts in the DRC depends on understanding the causes
of specific clashes, such as those in the Kivus, as this can contribute to the
uncovering of sustainable solutions to armed confrontation. The paper offers
proposals which, if implemented, could contribute to moving the Kivus, and by
extension the DRC, beyond intractability.
For at least two decades, many parts of the DRC have been characterised by
turmoil. The armed conflicts in the country find their genesis in the early 1990s,
when the 1994 Rwandan genocide caused a flood of refugees into the DRC
(Di Piazza 2008). This influx increased ethnic strife between different groups in
the country, as well as between locals and the refugees, leading to the eruption
of a regional war in 1996. That year, Laurent-Désiré Kabila led a coalition
of Congolese rebel movements, supported by the Rwandan and Ugandan
national armies, in military strikes inside the DRC aimed at deposing Mobutu.
In May 1997, Mobutu fled the country and, upon marching into the capital,
Kinshasa, Kabila named himself president, effectively signalling the end of what
is now referred to as the First Congo War (1996–97). Prunier (2009) cautions
Perpetuation of instability in the Democratic Republic of the Congo
against viewing the Rwandan genocide and its consequences as the cause of
the implosion in the Congo Basin but explains that it acted as the catalyst to
a crisis that had been latent for many years. In 1998, Kabila fell out with his
Rwandan and Ugandan allies, sparking armed confrontation. Ruddock (2001)
notes that after serious military losses by the Kabila regime, subsequent foreign
intervention by Angola, Namibia and Zimbabwe (allied to Kabila) resulted in
thousands of troops occupying parts of the DRC. A broader regional war, now
known as the Second Congo War (1998–2003) but also referred to by many as
Africa’s world war’, broke out (Karbo and Mutisi 2012:396). The devastating
five-year conflict claimed the lives of more than three million people due to
violence, disease and starvation (Di Piazza 2008). Joseph Kabila, a general in the
Congolese army, rose to power after a bodyguard (in Laurent-Désiré Kabila’s
employ) assassinated his father on 16 January 2001. Laurent-Désiré Kabila had
been in power for almost four years at the time of his death.
The Global and Inclusive Agreement on Transition in the DRC, commonly
known as the Pretoria Agreement, which was signed on 16 December 2002,
signalled the beginning of the end of the Second Congo War. The agreement
provided a negotiated framework which detailed how the DRC would move
towards achieving a widely accepted and functional transitional government
that would cater to the interests of many of the parties involved in the conflict
and prepare the country for national and provincial elections with the support
of the international community. The agreement created the basis for the
development of a transitional constitution, which underpinned the formation
of an interim government on 18 July 2003. Since 2003, the DRC has had a
recognised sovereign government in Kinshasa. The country, however, continues
to face challenges to peace that primarily emanate from the eastern part of its
territory. Joseph Kabila runs a country that is grossly fractured and constantly
experiences state consolidation challenges.
This paper makes linkages between the realities in the Kivus and the
(in)stability of the DRC. The choice of the Kivus is due to an appreciation
that the wars in these provinces of the DRC are complex and intertwined, and
contribute to national instability. In this paper, the choice of the Kivus stems from
the authors’ summary that each time the Kivus sneeze, Kinshasa catches a cold.
Joyce Muraya and John Ahere
The steadiness of Kinshasa, as the capital of the DRC, is important since it is
the locus of legitimate political power. Each rebellion that has been mounted in
the Kivus in recent years has had Kinshasa as the ultimate target. The strength
of Kinshasa is therefore symbolic of the general stability of the DRC, and by
extension, the Great Lakes region.
Eastern DRC experienced the deadliest violent conflict the country has ever
seen, apart from the Katanga rebellion (1960–65) in which Laurent-Désiré Kabila
was involved.1 The first rebellion following the end of the Cold War aimed to
oust Mobutu and began in the city of Goma in the mid-1990s. Eastern DRC was
also the entry point of the second rebellion in the late 1990s. In mid-2004, there
was a crisis in Bukavu as a result of fighting between forces loyal to Colonel Jules
Mutebutsi and General Prosper Nyabiolwa. The two sides were wresting for
control of Bukavu, the capital of South Kivu Province which shares borders with
Rwanda. Although theoretically integrated into the Congolese army, Mutebutsi
was affiliated to rebels from the Congolese Rally for Democracy (Rassemblement
Congolais pour la Démocratie (RCD)) based in Goma, North Kivu (International
Crisis Group 2004). In mid-2007, North Kivu experienced low-level combat
between government forces and troops led by renegade Tutsi General Laurent
Nkunda. Nkunda, who was an RCD commander during the Second Congo War,
was integrated into the Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo
(Forces Armées de la République Démocratique du Congo (FARDC)) – the regular
Congolese army – and promoted to the position of general after the Pretoria
Agreement was signed in 2002. The aforementioned low-level combat in 2007
was the result of tensions that followed Nkunda’s defiance of FARDC orders
to leave North Kivu (where he was stationed) and his subsequent capture of
Bukavu. Following his defection, he proceeded to form the National Congress
for the Defence of the People (Congrès National pour la Défense du Peuple
(CNDP)) in December 2006. The rebellion escalated into a major confrontation
that exacerbated long-lasting animosity between Tutsi, Hutu and other groups.
Clashes resulted in the deaths of thousands of fighters and civilians, and the
forced relocation of more than 2.6 million people (Internal Displacement
Monitoring Centre 2013).
1 For more on this crisis see Coufal, L. 2004. Mercenaries in Katanga’s secession crisis, 1960–
1963: Their roles, actions and implications. Washington, Western Washington University.
Perpetuation of instability in the Democratic Republic of the Congo
The complexity of the conflicts in eastern DRC stems from the fact that
all the actors have legitimate grievances but, at the same time, are responsible
for extensive human rights violations. There are many Congolese and foreign
armed groups operating in eastern DRC. Groups and allegiances are formed
along community and patrimonial lines, with some aligned to Rwanda and
Uganda as a result of support received in the past (Enough Project 2012).
In March 2012, forces of the March 23 Movement (Mouvement du 23-Mars
(M23)) rebelled when General Bosco ‘the Terminator’ Ntaganda led a mutiny
of soldiers from the FARDC (Rift Valley Institute 2013). The Rift Valley Institute
(2012) contends that the M23 at its peak reportedly had an estimated 1 500
to 2 500 combatants who fought the Congolese army in Rutshuru, North Kivu.
The M23, an extension of the CNDP rebellion (under another name), was
powerful because it was allegedly backed by Rwanda, with heavy weapons,
troops, recruits and territory (United Nations Security Council 2012).
This paper is divided into three segments. The first attempts to explore
some of the dynamics that characterise the context in which the conflicts in
the DRC have occurred. The second advances arguments which aim to explain
why the conflicts in the DRC may have persisted in spite of efforts to resolve
them. The third part examines some of the major post-crisis recovery strategies
that have been employed by national and international actors to contribute to
transforming the DRC.
The DRC situation
Of paramount importance is understanding the intricacies of the conflicts in
the DRC as they assist in unmasking underlying issues that may lead to the
escalation or de-escalation of conflicts. Wehr (2006) posits that:
[a]s conflict emerges, it produces considerable confusion…. Unwise
and costly decisions are made from a lack of understanding of
what is occurring. Since the way in which a conflict emerges largely
determines how costly it will subsequently be, those involved must
have the clearest possible understanding of what is going on.
Joyce Muraya and John Ahere
To understand and analyse a conflict practitioners should consider the
particular aspects of the conflict. In the DRC these include, but are not limited
to the following issues:
state bureaucracy
national boundaries which are a legacy of colonialism
marginalisation and disenfranchisement of communities
ethnic consciousness and identities
The formation of state bureaucracy and failure to build Congolese
It is worth noting that during the more than 70 years that the Belgians ruled
the DRC, they treated the Congolese harshly, exploited them economically
and neglected them politically (Shurtleff and Aoyagi 2009). Shurtleff and
Aoyagi (2009) further contend that the Congolese were poorly prepared for
independence, as they did not have any infrastructure on which to build an
independent state. Throughout the colonial period, Belgium never prioritised
the development of an African educated class with the capacity to assume
political power and control over the vast country post-independence. It was no
surprise then that the new political elite proved entirely incapable of managing
the challenges of a newly independent state (Falola and Oyebade 2010). This
incompetence resulted in anarchy – political, military, ethnic and racial tensions
swept through the country within days of independence. Mobutu’s first coup,
on 14 September 1960, brought in an interim government that replaced
parliament for six months between 1960 and 1961. This administration was
mainly composed of university students and graduates (International Business
Publications 2011). Rickety civilian governments in Kinshasa came and went,
even as real power was purportedly in the hands of the ‘Binza Group’, which was
made up of close associates of Mobutu who lived in Binza, a prosperous suburb
in the capital (International Business Publications 2011). The existence of this
group and its machinations cultivated a weak, inefficient, inept and ineffective
bureaucracy characterised by patron-client relationships throughout Mobutu’s
tenure (Bertelsmann Transformation Index 2006). Even after Mobutu’s fall from
Perpetuation of instability in the Democratic Republic of the Congo
power, civil service leadership in the DRC, particularly in the cabinet, was often
beholden to political interests, while the majority of the civil service remained
susceptible to political influence, severely undermining meritocratic promotion
(Stearns 2012).
Governance of the Kivus has historically been a contentious matter,
especially since the end of the Second Congo War. The rebellions that have
been, and continue to be mounted in the region tend to have at their core
questions about the identity of the political and military leaders exercising
power in the Kivus. The successive governments in Kinshasa have always been
keen to influence the leadership of the Kivus, in the process contributing to
disagreements that have led to armed conflicts, including Kinshasa’s attempted
redeployment from the Kivus of Ntaganda and ex-CNDP officers (mainly
Tutsis) in the FARDC. This was a contributing factor to the M23 rebellion
(Rift Valley Institute 2012).
Demarcation of colonial boundaries and post-independence impacts
The West greatly influenced contemporary DRC. Belgium’s King Leopold II
owned the DRC, then known as the Congo Free State, as a private commercial
empire following the application of arbitrary boundary demarcations that
separated African nations (Frederking 2007). From the beginning, the Belgians
tried to restrict the influence of Rwanda’s monarchy on the populations of
eastern Congo (Vlassenroot 2004). In 1910, an agreement was reached between
Belgium and two other European powers to redraw the boundaries of the
independent state of Congo. As a result, the Kivu–Mulera–Ndorwa belt became
a shared region among three European imperialist powers through the 1911
Anglo–German–Belgian Agreement (Murindwa-Rutanga 2011). From then
on, Kinyarwanda speaking people in North Kivu were considered indigenous
and subsequently provided with their own customary authority, a situation
that was immediately disputed by the other ethnic groups living in this region
(Vlassenroot 2004).
There are pre-colonial maps which show that large portions of North Kivu
were formerly the territory of Rwanda (Turner 2007). This includes the area
of Bwisha, whose inhabitants speak Kinyarwanda. The decision by African
Joyce Muraya and John Ahere
countries to accept borders that were the result of colonial demarcations
meant that the boundaries of the DRC did not respect the distribution of
ethnic groups.
Specifically, the Tutsi ethnic group overlapped the borders of Burundi, the
DRC, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda (DeRouen and Heo 2007). Many Tutsi
naturally identified with their ethnic group before locating themselves within
colonially constructed state boundaries (DeRouen and Heo 2007). In this
context, Kahler (2002) posits that:
[s]crutiny of the concept of territoriality leads to a more contingent
and mutable formulation of unit variation rather than the
conventional, static view of territoriality within international
relations – a ‘Westphalian’ system populated by precisely delimited,
territorial states (quoted in Kahler and Walter 2006:1).
This also helps to explain ideological interpretations of those Rwandan Patriotic
Front (RPF) proponents who considered the Kivus an extension of Rwanda.
Rwandan authorities rejected the territorial conception of the state and
privileged the notion of a political community that extended to the entire Tutsi
diaspora (Fofana 2009). Fofana (2009:36) maintains that when the RPF took
power in 1994, it established what Mahmood Mamdani termed a ‘Zionist-type
state’ that was bent on ensuring the survival of the Tutsi ethnic group, based on
an overwhelming sense of moral responsibility for the survival of all Tutsis and
in support of their ‘nation. Rather than a Westphalian model that separates the
modern state system, distinction is based on the domiciles of individuals and
groups in a specific territory (Kahler and Walter 2006).
Post-independence marginalisation and disenfranchisement of
Sarkin (2001) postulates that pre-colonial social groups and local identities
in the Great Lakes region were based on very different considerations from
those used by colonial powers to demarcate boundaries and construct
states. The colonisers imposed artificial borders that did not take cognisance
Perpetuation of instability in the Democratic Republic of the Congo
of patterns of placement or what was best for the people living on the land;
leaving identity issues to simmer over the years. In the DRC, the colonial
powers established a divided ethnic and civic legal system to rule the territory.
The central state administered the civil law, while the local authorities, who
oversaw the application of customary law, presided over the ethnic system.
What resulted was, according to Mamdani (1990), a kind of dual citizenship,
with certain rights being explicitly tied to membership of particular indigenous
ethnic groups. In the same vein, Breytenbach et al. (1999:34) observe that:
[w]hile everyone has been a citizen of the Congo since 1960, not
everyone has ethnic citizenship and land rights. Only those who are
considered to be indigenous have a native authority and consequently
ethnic citizenship. Since immigrants (e.g. Banyamulenge, or rather
Tutsis living in the Kivus for 300 years) do not have a native authority
of their own, they are considered non-indigenous and are exempted
from ethnic citizenship.... Consequently, these aliens were denied
customary access to land because they had no native authority in
colonial days.
The duality of the legal system exacerbated ethnic divides amongst groups
of people occupying this region. The Zeitgeist of this colonial legacy was
perpetuated via a state ethnicity that had an institutional underpinning in
what Vlassenroot (2000) describes as the continuing presence of a parallel,
exclusive and mono-ethnic traditional land tenure system. In this set up, there
is systematic exclusion of segments of the population belonging to certain
ethnicities from accessing, controlling and using land.
Discriminatory patterns which characterised the DRC’s post-colonial
governments did little to address this and actually stymied any nationalist
sentiments in excluded groups. Mobutu’s regime systematically excluded most
Tutsi from citizenship, local power and economic security while simultaneously
denying them opportunities that accrue from citizenship. From as early as
1973, political leaders sought to deny Tutsis national identification documents.
This was in spite of statutory frameworks, put in place in 1972, which granted
Joyce Muraya and John Ahere
them citizenship. As a result, situations arose where although on paper Tutsis
were recognised as citizens, they did not reap dividends associated with
citizenship. This led to ethnic consciousness fomenting, based on sentiments of
exclusion by other groups. The legitimate opportunity to own and access land,
the ultimate resource in the Kivus, was linked to Congolese citizenship (Africa
Canada Accountability Coalition 2010).
Furthermore, continued mistrust between the Tutsi and Hutu in
neighbouring Burundi and Rwanda reinforced Tutsi separateness in the DRC.
There was mutual suspicion on the part of both groups, characterised by
endemic fear of being attacked by the other, which placed each side on high
alert. This kind of situation tends to ‘produce an environment where groups
fear their entire existence is under threat, leading them to engage in pre-emptive
attacks’ (United States Holocaust Memorial Museum 2010). The political and
national exclusion of the Banyamulenge – comprising the Tutsi population
in the Kivus − saw them align with armed groups according to their interests;
the most recent being the M23, which was primarily made up of Tutsis. The
Banyamulenge’s support for and participation in the activities of formidable
armed groups that advanced their cause only served to further enforce the
contempt that other groups already held for them. During the Second Congo
War the RCD, soon after its formation, took control of major towns in North
and South Kivu. This prompted Laurent-Désiré Kabila to form alliances with
Mai-Mai groups, the Burundian Hutu armed group Forces for the Defence of
Democracy (Forces pour la Défense de la Démocratie (FDD)), and the ex-Rwandan
Armed Forces (Forces Armée Rwandaises (FAR))/Interahamwe. Consequently,
Kabila’s security services and like-minded groups started to ethnically profile
and target individuals they deemed to be Tutsi or Banyamulenge, resulting in
the detention of people, appropriation or destruction of their property and, in
some cases, the murder of those targeted (United Nations High Commissioner
for Human Rights 2010).
Similarly, in pre-emptive efforts aimed at suppressing the growing influence
of the Rwandan population, many of the native authorities in the Kivus created
their own military, known as the Mai-Mai and made up of Hunde, Nande and
Nyanga militia (Mamdani and Jordan 1998). The Mai-Mai had a strong aversion
Perpetuation of instability in the Democratic Republic of the Congo
for Rwandan troops, whom they associated with the quest for Tutsi dominance
in the Kivus. With this rationale, the movement committed to fighting Rwandan
and Ugandan troops, who they considered sympathisers of Banyarwandan
interests in the Kivus.
Cultivation of ethnic consciousness and identities
The structural legacy of ethnic cleavages in the DRC has been attributed to
Belgian colonial rule (Wright 2008). The prolonged usage of terms such as
‘Bangala’, ‘Lulua’ and ‘Kasaians’ to refer to particular groups or tribes is what,
according to Lemarchand (1964), contributed to the growth of a separate ethnic
consciousness among various groups. Remnants of this colonial legacy exist up
to this day in conflict-affected regions in the DRC (Sarkin 2001). Whereas the
Belgians cultivated the seeds of ethnic consciousness, Mobutu institutionalised
and entrenched it during his rule. In 1978 for example, Mobutu purged the
Kinshasa-based military of all officers from the Kasai, Maniema, Bandundu and
Katanga provinces because he deemed them disloyal (Stearns 2011). The army
was reorganised, with members of Mobutu’s own small Ngbandi tribe placed in
key command positions, and individuals from the Kivus barred from taking up
influential posts. ‘If you were not from Équateur, you were nobody,’ observers
explained (Stearns 2011:115).
Ethnic identities in the Kivus have divided communities and aided the
creation and propagation of armed groups. In these areas, conflicts are two-fold.
First are clashes at local level, in which Kinyarwanda speakers are pitted
against the autochthonous populations, as demonstrated by the antagonism
between Rwanda-backed forces and the nativist Mai-Mai groups which have
continuously objected to the presence of foreigners in the Kivus. In the First
Congo War they fought alongside Kabila and his Alliance of Democratic
Forces for the Liberation of Congo (Alliance des Forces Démocratiques pour la
Libération du Congo (ADFL)), going on to support him when he began to object
to the presence of the Tutsi population in the Kivus. Even with the advent of
democracy ushered in by the 2006 elections, Turner (2007) explains that mixed
areas, such as Uvira in South Kivu and Goma in North Kivu, experienced fighting
as self-styled ‘autochthones’ attempted to prevent the registration of what they
considered ‘foreigners’. Second, the areas experienced regional level conflict
Joyce Muraya and John Ahere
which pitted Kinyarwanda speaking groups against each other. There is a history
of antagonism between the Hutu and Tutsi, which culminated in Rwanda’s 1994
genocide. Spill over of ethnic rivalries into neighbouring DRC could not be
avoided due to an influx of Rwandese refugees who entered the country through
the eastern provinces of North and South Kivu, fleeing massacres at home.
It is estimated that as many as 850 000 Rwandese refugees arrived in the Goma
area, while another 332 000 arrived in Bukavu (Prunier 2009). Some refugees
were former members of the defeated FAR and the Interahamwe, a militia group
linked to political parties which were involved in orchestrating the genocide.
These groups make up the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda
(Forces Démocratiques de Libération du Rwanda (FDLR)).
What seemed to be pre-emptive efforts intended to protect ethnic rights
contributed to the formation of movements in support of exclusionary rights.
As was the case amongst the Tutsi population in the Kivus, Rwanda’s support for
Kabila during the First Congo War was motivated by a desire to oust Mobutu,
who allowed the suppression of Tutsi rights, and aligned himself with Hutu rebel
forces, helping them to re-arm. The Rwandan Patriotic Army (RPA) therefore
sought to protect the rights of the Tutsi living in the Kivus and contain the rebel
Hutu forces that had fled Rwanda following their defeat in the 1994 genocide.
Similarly in 1998 the RCD, led by Ernest Wamba dia Wamba, took the town
of Goma and began a campaign against Laurent-Désiré Kabila who, within a
year of his victory, had managed to alienate his former regional allies. He had
marginalised the Banyamulenge and other Tutsi from power and expressly
sought to gain the support of the Congolese by fermenting hatred against the
Banyamulenge (Breytenbach et al. 1999). This precipitated the beginning of the
Second Congo War, a battle which pitted the DRC, supported by Angola, Chad,
Namibia and Zimbabwe, against the rebels, backed by Burundi, Rwanda and
Uganda (Stearns 2011).
Insurgent groups such as the M23 came out in support of the Tutsi
population in the Kivus. The M23’s main opponent was the FDLR, a Hutu
group. In 2006 the CNDP, populated by former RCD rebels based in Goma, and
coordinated by Laurent Nkunda, also claimed to protect the Congolese Tutsi
and fought the FDLR. Nkunda’s defection from the FARDC and his rebellion
Perpetuation of instability in the Democratic Republic of the Congo
against Joseph Kabila’s government were based on claims of his defence of the
interests of the Tutsi minority, who were constantly attacked by Rwandan Hutu
militias in the Kivu conflict. He continued to lead his troops in the conflict until
his arrest by the Rwanda Defence Force (RDF).
Corruption and kleptocracy
The levels of corruption in the DRC are egregious, with roots that stretch back to
the unbelievable kleptocracy that characterised Mobutu’s rule (Kibasomba and
Lombe 2011). Wedeman (2012) defines kleptocracy as denoting a state ruled
by thieves, in which dishonest officials transform the state into an instrument
of private plunder. He explains that kleptocracy begins to emerge when the
ruler, not just his henchmen, turns to fraud as a means of personal enrichment
and uses his authority to divert resources away from the state and into his own
pockets. Mobutu exported much of what he stole, allegedly transferring more
than US$ 100 million a year to banks in Switzerland and elsewhere in Europe.
His subordinates also stole what they could and police officers and soldiers
reportedly engaged in extortion. The collapse of the economy of the DRC in the
late 1980s and early 90s can be linked to kleptocracy and corruption. Despite
the peace agreements signed between 2002 and 2007, and the democratic
elections held in 2006 and 2011, this legacy still dominates the Congo’s political,
administrative and military culture. Greed is still the reason for the majority of
candidates to apply for government posts or stand for election into parliament
(Kibasomba and Lombe 2011). Loaded with immense natural resources,
nowhere has corruption and kleptocracy been more greatly at play than in the
Kivus. The stakes in this region are so high that political and military leaders
have allegedly used the illegally acquired wealth from these resources to, among
others, rig elections in order to maintain the status quo and perpetuate the vice
(Rift Valley Institute 2012).
Why do the conflicts in the DRC seem intractable?
Having discussed the dynamics of the conflicts in the DRC, this section
examines why, in spite of tremendous efforts to resolve them, the conflicts in the
DRC have over the years become seemingly intractable. The analysis will focus
on questions of territoriality and the problem of state consolidation, availability
Joyce Muraya and John Ahere
of strategic minerals, cross-border ethnic identities, abandonment of mediation
processes after peace agreements, stunted growth of supranational organisations
and the shifting epicentres of conflicts in the Great Lakes region.
Lingonge (2004) posits that the war in the DRC was one of the most complex
and intractable ones to take place on the African continent. With the recent
escalations that have occurred in spite of the signing of numerous peace
agreements, it could appear to a conflict management practitioner that the
conflicts remain intractable. Crocker et al. (2004) affirm that many scholars
use the term ‘intractable conflicts’ to mean contestations that can never be
solved or effectively managed. Their view, however, is that intractable conflicts
are stubborn or difficult, but not impossible to manage. They opine that what
separates intractable conflicts from others is a difference in the willingness
or susceptibility of parties to entertain political options rather than violence.
It is the view of Crocker et al. that will guide the usage of the term intractable
conflicts in this paper.
After the outbreak of the Congo wars, there were tremendous efforts made
to not only mitigate the effects of the violence but also deal with the causes of
the conflicts. Among these were numerous peace accords which were negotiated
and endorsed. In spite of these agreements, the conflicts have over the years
periodically escalated into runaway violence, especially in the Kivus. Table 1
reflects some of the major peace agreements reached since 1999. It is important
to note at this point that there are indeed other less prominent, yet equally
crucial, bilateral agreements that were reached between some of the parties, for
example l'Accord des Cascades between Jean-Pierre Bemba of the Movement for
the Liberation of the Congo (Mouvement de Libération Congolais (MLC)) and
President Joseph Kabila on 19 February 2002. This agreement was crucial in
advancing the deadlocked Sun City negotiations.
Perpetuation of instability in the Democratic Republic of the Congo
Table 1: Peace agreements in the DRC reached in the period after the First
Congo War
Agreement Place and date
of signature Parties involved
Lusaka Ceasefire
Lusaka, Zambia on
10 July 1999
Angola, the DRC,
Namibia, Rwanda,
Uganda, Zimbabwe and
the MLC
Sun City Agreement Sun City, Rustenburg,
South Africa on
19 April 2002
DRC government, MLC
and a majority of civil
society and unarmed
political opposition
Pretoria Accord Pretoria, South Africa on
30 July 2002
Governments of the DRC
and Rwanda
Luanda Agreement Luanda, Angola on
6 September 2002
Governments of the DRC
and Uganda
Global and Inclusive
Agreement on Transition
in the DRC
Pretoria, South Africa on
16 December 2002
The Government of the
DRC, the RCD, MLC, the
political opposition, civil
society, RCD-Movement
for Liberation (RCD-
Mouvement de Libération
National (RCD-N), and
the Mai-Mai.
The Final Act Sun City, South Africa on
2 April 2003
Participants at the Inter-
Congolese Dialogue
Peace agreements
between the government,
the CNDP and other
armed groups
Goma, DRC on
23 January 2008
The Government of the
DRC and over 20 armed
Peace, Security and
Cooperation Framework
for the DRC and the
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on
24 February 2013
Angola, Burundi, the
Central African Republic
(CAR), Republic of
Congo, the DRC,
Rwanda, South Africa,
South Sudan, Uganda,
Tanzania and Zambia
Joyce Muraya and John Ahere
There are a variety of reasons why the aforementioned peace agreements have not
led to sustainable conflict resolution in the DRC. These are discussed below.
Territoriality and the problem of state consolidation
It is understood that countries that have vast territories, like the DRC, often
experience challenges in consolidating the state. Herbst (2000) suggests
that countries are only viable if they are able to control the territory defined
by their borders. Control in this case is assured by developing the necessary
infrastructure to broadcast power and gain the loyalty of citizens (Herbst 2000).
The geography of the DRC is unique in terms of the distribution of the
population. The Congo is a classic ‘rimland’ country, as it has a high population
density in the frontier areas and low concentration of citizens in the interior.
Due to the sheer size of the country, plus the fact that the little infrastructure
in place is in disrepair, the border regions have remained vulnerable to external
interferences and loyalties to authorities other than the government. ‘Particularly
in the densely populated eastern provinces, plenty of major urban areas were
politically challenging Kinshasa’, Exenberger and Hartman (2008:247) explain.
Ever since the attainment of independence, the DRC’s central government
has never been able to disperse authority to its periphery and fully control its
entire territory (Karbo and Mutisi 2012). This has largely been influenced by the
lack of infrastructure. The DRC possibly faces the most daunting infrastructure
challenge on the African continent (Foster and Benitez 2011). The long periods
of conflict severely damaged the majority of the country’s infrastructure
networks, which are in urgent need of rehabilitation. It is noteworthy that even
before the first war in 1996, the inadequacy of basic infrastructure made it
cumbersome to knit together the country’s disparate economic and population
centres. Power, road and rail networks are in dire need of rehabilitation and
development. In a country as big as Western Europe the paved road network
is limited to fewer than 3 000 kilometres (Foster and Benitez 2011). The poor
road infrastructure, especially in the Kivus, impedes access to markets, limits
commercial activity and stifles livelihoods. It also increases insecurity due to the
isolation of populations from the rest of the country, as well as their inability to
access social and administrative services (Graham 2014).
Perpetuation of instability in the Democratic Republic of the Congo
This state of affairs has a negative impact on national security. The feasibility
of waging a civil war is largely deterred by the presence of a strong state with
sufficient coercive capacity to manipulate, to a large degree, the political
environment of its territory. If the state lacks strong institutional governance
mechanisms, it becomes susceptible to the machinations of political and other
groupings attempting to exercise various forms of control. Weak political
structures such as these create power vacuums that are often bolstered by
the implicit need for a governing hierarchy as dictated by societies. Due to
the vacuum created by this situation, rebels and militias have little difficulty
in taking control of large swathes of areas in eastern DRC, particularly in the
Kivus. A weak government also presupposes a lack of capacity to constitute a
strong army to defend the state should its security be threatened.
In spite of the aforementioned argument, in the international system,
there are countries with large geographical territories which do not have state
consolidation problems. These states have, in the past, undergone wars and civil
strife but yet managed to consolidate. The three most dominant countries in the
international system – Russia, the United States of America and China – also
happen to be geographically wide.
Presence of strategic minerals
The presence of strategic minerals in under-developing nations acts as a divider,
as it carries greater potential for conflict than minerals in general (Westing
1986). Strategic minerals are those which are important to a state’s economy,
particularly in the area of defence.
Westing (1986) adds that whether natural resources carry the potential for
conflict depends on the extent to which:
the military and industries rely on the natural resource in the short to
medium term
the natural resource crosses political and ideological divides during its
supply and routing
there is contestation for the territory in which the natural resource
is found.
Joyce Muraya and John Ahere
The DRC is endowed with vast natural resources, which include massive reserves
of gold and diamonds, most of the world’s reserves of columbo-tantalite,
numerous mines of silver, cadmium, copper and zinc, and rare minerals such
as cobalt, nickel, niobium, tantalum, beryl, cassiterite and wolfram. Many of
these resources are located in the Kivus, Katanga, Kasai and Maniema and are
largely untapped (Autesserre 2010). These resources, it is argued, are drivers
of conflict in the Congo, as they sustain the various armed groups financially
and provide incentives for continued participation in the conflicts (Fridell and
Konings 2013).
Turner (2007) explains that although the DRC is one of the largest countries in
Africa, during the Congo wars it was held to ransom and pillaged by neighbours
far smaller than it is. Geopolitical concerns may explain the underlying reasons
for the first invasion of the Congo. The First Congo War ushered in a new wave
of illegal exploitation of the DRC’s resources by foreigners, aided by Congolese
(Turner 2007). Turner’s statement support past findings of the UN Panel of
Experts on the Illegal Exploitation of Natural Resources and Other Forms of
Wealth in the DRC which reported large-scale looting by the armies of Burundi,
Rwanda and Uganda during the war. Once obtained, minerals were either taken
back to the countries or exported to international markets by these forces and
other nationals (United Nations Security Council 2001).
The Kivus were at the epicentre of this dynamic as these provinces are the
richest in high-value low-weight mineral resources, and are located near the
DRC’s borders with Uganda and Rwanda, which function as easy channels for
exporting resources for quick profit by the forces and governments involved
(Fridell and Konings 2013). Exploitation of and trade in mineral deposits
located in eastern DRC contributed substantially to the start and continuation
of violence. The emergence of a war economy in the DRC enabled many to
accumulate wealth that they otherwise would not have been able to attain
(Dunn 2001). For instance, national and foreign actors and their local proxies,
competing for control of mining sites, contributed to outbreaks of violence.
The illicit exploitation of natural resources enabled combatants to finance the
acquisition of weapons and fund their war efforts. The armed groups also used
Perpetuation of instability in the Democratic Republic of the Congo
extreme violence against civilians to gain control over either resource-rich areas
or the ability to exploit them (Autesserre 2008).
Another aspect of the Congo wars is that local actors also participated in the
illegal exploitation of natural resources in the eastern provinces. Rebel groups
and militias secured, taxed and supervised the acquisition and transportation
of valuable raw materials in their areas of control. When FARDC brigades were
eventually dispatched to the eastern Congo provinces, they also became involved
in the mining. The soldiers either dug minerals or taxed local production,
while the officers facilitated and benefitted from illegal exportation to Rwanda,
Tanzania or Uganda (Autesserre 2008). The state’s inability to provide financially
for its army also meant that the FARDC profited from the prevailing state of
war and anarchy, collaborating with rebels and foreign armies in extracting and
looting resources. A 2010 report by the UN panel of experts shows that FARDC
troops were involved in illegal mining (United Nations Security Council 2010).
The conflicts in the DRC have also been allegedly fanned by the activities
of multinational corporations (MNCs) which sought mining concessions and
contracts in the DRC under conditions that were more preferable than would be
possible in peaceful and stable states (Shah 2010). MNCs developed networks of
key political, military and business elites to exploit the DRC’s natural resources.
According to Shah (2010), MNCs also allegedly engaged in trade with rebels
who, as already alluded to, set up financial and administrative systems that
enabled them to collect revenue from the minerals. This income reportedly
allowed all the belligerents to fund their participation in the conflicts, as well as
to enrich themselves.
Taking into account the argument posited above, it is also important to note
that the presence of strategic minerals in a country does not by default place it
on the verge of armed conflict. It is the intense competition over these resources,
in the context of weak or non-existent regulatory frameworks, which makes
violence highly likely to occur.
Joyce Muraya and John Ahere
Cross-border ethnic identities
Cross-border ethnic identities tend to internationalise conflicts as arguments
and battles spill over into one or more countries. Ethnic identities can lead
people to see their personal interests as united with the interests of a particular
group (Joireman 2004). To this end, ethnic unrest in one country can be
supported by the same ethnic group located in another state (Schnabel 2002).
According to Jesse and Simon (2004), studies have shown that even if there is
no common border, ethnic and religious linkages between groups in different
countries increase the chances of escalation or diffusion of war.
Challenges of a cross-border nature can also entwine with conflicts among
local elites. From a cross-border conflict perspective, a neighbouring country
can influence certain parties to initiate violence (Brosché and Rothbart 2012).
With close to 500 ethnic groups, the DRC is one of the most ethnically diverse
states on earth (Karbo and Mutisi 2012). An examination of similar diversity
in different contexts has revealed that neighbouring countries have provided
military support to rebel groups active in local elite conflicts (Brosché and
Rothbart 2012). The motivation for such support in the DRC has rarely been
altruistic. External actors have used dissident clusters as proxies for their own
parochial interests, which has in turn increased the proliferation of rebel groups.
The involvement of different players has multiplied the problems in the Kivus,
since the different actors tend to have competing agendas.
According to Taras and Ganguly (2009), conflict in the DRC became
internationalised when, among other reasons, the Tutsis who had routed the
Hutus in Rwanda and Burundi seemed intent on building an empire, with the
consequence that Tutsi leaders in Rwanda were perceived by other groups as the
masterminds of a Tutsi imperial project that would take control of the weak or
even collapsed state of the region. Ultimately, a combination of cross-border
ethnic identities and the internationalisation of conflicts have contributed to
making the conflicts in the DRC perpetual.
Abandonment of mediation processes after peace agreements
A peace agreement between conflicting parties is not necessarily the panacea
that will cure their problems. Even after signing an agreement, the mediator and
Perpetuation of instability in the Democratic Republic of the Congo
parties need to put in place frameworks to ensure constant dialogue on issues
that are potentially divisive. This, however, rarely happens. Mediators are often
faced with the dilemma of moving mediation processes forward, to hastily reach
an agreement and stop violence, as opposed to lengthening engagements to
ensure that the assistance offered to parties supports them to adequately address
the underlying issues that lead to and perpetuate violence.
The mediation initiatives that have been undertaken in the DRC have tended
to be an end in themselves rather than being a means to the desired end –
the resolution of conflict. This is echoed by Solomon and Mngqibisa (2004),
who note that various interventions in the conflicts in the DRC have been
characterised by third parties attempting to arrive at paper peace agreements as
quickly as possible. They caution that the process of achieving an accord is often
more important than the settlement itself. Often, intangibles such as psychology
and personality matter as much as material interests.
The recurrence of violence after negotiated peace agreements in the DRC
could also suggest failures in consolidating peace and quickly delivering on
human security needs in post-conflict environments. Ayangafac and Cilliers
(2011) contend that cessation of hostilities through post-agreement imposition
of massive humanitarian and peacekeeping operations by the international
community, which temporarily provides an external guarantee against
escalation of violence, does not amount to peace. These operations should,
instead, contribute to the resolution of root and proximate causes of conflicts.
Stunted growth of supranational organisations
In a globalising world, virtually all states in the international system are members
of one or more supranational organisations, or are aspiring to be associates.
A supranational organisation is an entity, group, union or conglomeration of
multiple countries that surrender certain amounts of government power to the
union. Supranational institutions include entities such as the United Nations
(UN), African Union (AU), East African Community, and International
Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR), among others. White (2005)
argues that the world order has been moving towards greater centralisation,
and that the idea of supranationalism is congruent with the rationalist school of
Joyce Muraya and John Ahere
thought of international relations which contends that centralisation is meant
to create a world community which could foster more cooperation among states
and, by extension, stem armed conflicts.
It is the stunted development of supranational organisations which, as this
section propounds, has contributed to the longevity of the conflicts in the
DRC. Were supranational organisations to work as effectively as intended, or
guided by the letter and spirit that led to their formation, then some regional
dimensions of national conflicts would be addressed. The supranational
organisations that the DRC is a member of (i.e. the UN, AU, Southern African
Economic Community, Economic Community of Central African States,
Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa and ICGLR) have not lived
up to their fullest potential to be able to stem the regional dimensions of the
conflicts in the DRC. This has largely been due to their failure to measure up to
some elements which White (2005) contends are important for the effectiveness
of supranational organisations.
The decisions of the supranational organisations that the DRC belongs
to have not been particularly binding on member governments. Some of the
countries bordering the DRC have in the past gone against UN Security Council
(UNSC) resolutions to halt the illegal exploitation of natural resources in
the DRC (United Nations Security Council 2012). Also, the decision-making
organs in these organisations have been entirely dependent on the cooperation
of all governments, as was clear during the talks to deescalate the violence
between the DRC government and the M23 in late 2013; where the decisions
of the ICGLR at some point depended on the DRC’s, Rwanda’s and Tanzania’s
willingness to cooperate (Matsiko 2013). An ideal situation would have been
for the majority of the members to take a decision for the general stability
of the region; the potential lack of cooperation between the aforementioned
countries notwithstanding. In addition to the fallibilities already alluded to,
supranational organisations (with perhaps the exception of the UN) also have
neither the power to enforce their decisions nor the financial autonomy to act
independently and decisively. In situations where the institutions were able to
decide, bureaucratic processes and inadequate political will caused delays in
their eventual actions, with grave consequences on lives in the DRC.
Perpetuation of instability in the Democratic Republic of the Congo
The shifting epicentres of conflicts in the Great Lakes region
In spite of an appreciation that the conflicts in the DRC have an impact on
almost the entire Great Lakes region, national initiatives, going by their visibility,
continue to outnumber regional programmes to deal with the conflicts,
particularly those in the Kivus. Mwagiru (1997) makes a case for the application
of a conflict systems approach in the management of cross-border wars.
He explains that conflict systems champion the belief that every war has
intimate relationships regionally, and that what might at first appear to be
individualised conflicts are in fact parts of a broader pattern of conflict in a region.
The approach rejects the idea that fights do not have cross-border dynamics, and
instead visualises individual conflicts as integral parts of a wider conflict system.
Since the Congo wars, the conflicts in the DRC have not been contained
within the DRC's territory. Battles and combatants have penetrated borders,
and been linked with the conflicts in Angola, Burundi, the CAR, Rwanda, South
Sudan and Uganda. The parties to the DRC conflicts have also made linkages
that went beyond the DRC. The situation in the Kivus must therefore be seen in
terms of its reality as part of a wider conflict system.
It is also important that conflict management practitioners ensure that
they identify the epicentre of a conflict − the eye of the storm (Mwagiru
1997). Conflict systems, like all organic things, have epicentres around which
their existence revolves. It is noteworthy that these may keep shifting. In the
Great Lakes region, conflicts have, since the early 1990s to date, shifted between
Burundi, the CAR, the DRC, and Rwanda. One of the challenges in the
management of conflicts in the DRC is that even when the epicentre changed
in the Great Lakes region, conflict management processes have not been rapidly
adjusted enough to accommodate shifting balances. The practice has often been
to either initiate new approaches to deal with a new epicentre, or to abandon
one for another. Amid this, the regional elements of the conflicts in the DRC
have not been effectively dealt with by national, supranational and international
actors, which contributes to their perpetuation.
Joyce Muraya and John Ahere
Post-crisis recovery efforts in the DRC
In as much as the conflicts in the DRC continue to escalate, as has been alluded
to in the previous section, it is important to acknowledge that efforts have been
made to move the country beyond crisis, especially after the end of the Second
Congo War. This section will examine some of the post-crisis recovery efforts
implemented, while also taking into consideration the fact that the impact of
such efforts can be realised in the medium to long term.
Post-conflict recovery strategies arise following cessation of violence and the
adoption of carefully crafted efforts towards the consolidation of peace. There
have been post-crisis recovery efforts in the DRC that were put in place after
peace agreements had been reached, most notably the Global and Inclusive
Agreement on Transition in the DRC. This and other efforts aimed to move the
DRC beyond the seemingly intractable conflicts.
Successive milestones contributed to what can arguably be viewed as
a transitor y period towards post-conflict recovery, albeit a tenuous one.
The periods following the signing of the Global and Inclusive Agreement
on Transition in the DRC in 2002 and before the 2006 elections were
considered times of re-engagement which witnessed a surge in funding
from donor countries, the re-establishment of diplomatic relations with
countries such as Belgium, and the creation of joint programmes such as
the Multi-country Demobilisation and Reintegration Programme which
involved 40 national and international partners (Brusset et al. 2011). In
the same vein, the period following the 2006 elections was characterised
by greater international engagement with the DRC government, diversified
cross-country investments by donors and multilateral agencies, and greater
synergy between development partners.
Following the signing of peace agreements that are a consequence of peace
talks, the international community more often than not sets aside financial
resources to support the implementation of stabilisation initiatives. Stearns
(2013) notes that ‘[s]uch programmes help fragile governments to restore state
authority and provide the general conditions that would allow for long-term
development to pick up and for victims of the conflict to resume a normal life.
Perpetuation of instability in the Democratic Republic of the Congo
An overview of post-crisis recovery frameworks
This section will highlight the recovery efforts put in place after the Global and
Inclusive Agreement on Transition in the DRC. Highlighting these efforts is
intended to set the stage for an examination of whether they have effectively
contributed to dealing with the structural issues in the Kivus and, by extension,
the DRC.
The UN, in collaboration with the Government of the DRC and international
partners, developed strategies to support implementation of political
agreements and peacebuilding gains. These tactics were designed to build
on existing assessments and frameworks. One of these was the Growth and
Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper (GPRSP), which was prepared in two phases.
In the first stage, an Interim Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper (PRSP-I) was
implemented. This was renamed the GPRSP in the second phase, and adopted
by the transitional government in July 2006. It was subsequently endorsed by
the democratically elected government in March 2007 (International Monetary
Fund 2010). A major weakness of the GPRSP was insufficient ownership of it
by the political and administrative authorities of the country (International
Monetary Fund 2013). Although officially recognised by all stakeholders as the
only reference framework for development policies, programmes and actions,
most political and administrative authorities and managers paid little attention
to it. They programmed, budgeted, implemented and monitored public
interventions without considering the framework (International Monetary
Fund 2013).
Similarly, in response to the fluid political environment in the run-up to the
elections in 2006, international partners mobilised to identify key priorities for
the consolidation of peace in the DRC and to come up with a common strategy
to achieve recovery and secure development assistance. This was implemented
through the Country Assistance Framework (CAF), a joint initiative of the UN
and World Bank which was open to all international partners in the DRC (United
Nations and World Bank 2008). The CAF focused on enhancing security sector
reform, public financial management, natural resources management, public
administration and civil service reform, local governance and decentralisation,
investment, and public enterprise reform.
Joyce Muraya and John Ahere
However, these efforts were met with scepticism and fear by anti-globalisation
activists and national civil society organisations that believe that peacebuilding
in the DRC was being used as a Trojan horse to advance rapid neo-liberal
political and economic transformation of the country, in line with the interests
of the World Bank (Adebayo and Paterson 2010).
The fragile environment in eastern DRC, caused by persisting pockets of
militias, continues to impede recovery efforts and implementation of various
strategies because of a sustained threat of relapse into violence. To achieve
transition in eastern DRC, the UN launched the Security and Stabilization
Support Strategy (UNSSSS) for eastern DRC in 2008.
Froitzheim (2014) confirms that the UNSSSS, drawing from national and
other frameworks, aimed to stabilise the east and protect civilians through:
i. reform of the security sector and the disbandment of armed groups
ii. supporting political processes aimed at implementing agreements
iii. restoring state authority
iv. assisting the return and reintegration of internally displaced persons
and refugees, and community recovery
v. confronting and combating sexual violence.
The UNSSSS was suspended due to the re-emergence of rebellion in the Kivus
in 2007. When the CNDP signed an agreement with the DRC government on
23 March 2009, the International Security and Stabilization Support Strategy
(ISSSS) was launched (Froitzheim 2014); it was intended to be the primary
strategy tying international support to the national stabilisation framework,
the Stabilisation and Reconstruction Plan for War-affected Areas (STAREC).
Launched in 2009, the STAREC is a strategic framework which contains key
objectives to peace in the Kivus and consolidates peace initiatives with political
and military ones. The agenda is managed by the government, although it is
primarily funded by donors through a multi-donor funding mechanism. It is
based on three main priority areas:
i. security and restoration of the state
ii. humanitarian assistance and delivery of social services
iii. economic recovery.
Perpetuation of instability in the Democratic Republic of the Congo
However, the STAREC/ISSSS joint strategy has not been short of critics.
Following completion of the first phase of the ISSSS, donors began questioning
the impact of the US$ 270 million already spent. Complaints focused on
the lack of ownership and commitment to peacekeeping by the Congolese
government, as reflected in poor commitment to post-conflict recovery
activities. As reported, of the US$ 430 million in projects for STAREC/ISSSS, the
Congolese government only pledged US$ 20 million. Similarly, with the launch
of the ISSSS, total funding requirements were estimated at US$ 800 million but,
by mid-2010, only US$ 160 million had been pledged to the strategy and not
passed through the fund, whilst only US$ 15 million was promised through the
fund finance mechanism (Brusset et al. 2011). Recent figures indicate that the
fund had received US$ 21 838 780 by 2014 (Multi-Partner Trust Fund Office
2014). Even with financial contributions from the donor community, political
and diplomatic efforts have not been commensurate with the available finances,
with the consequence that they have dismally failed to ensure the active
participation of key post-conflict peacebuilding and conflict transformation
stakeholders. The post-crisis recovery initiatives in the Kivus – and by extension
the DRC – provided an opportunity for international engagement through the
work of UN missions in the country as discussed below.
From MONUC to MONUSCO: A focus on stabilisation
Within the context of prioritisation of stabilisation strategies, the UN mission
was obliged to change tack to be in synergy with STAREC/ISSSS. In 2009,
President Kabila called for UN peacekeeping forces to begin withdrawing from
the DRC, arguing that the stability of the country had significantly improved;
a situation he largely attributed to the signing of the 2008 peace deal between
the Kinshasa and Kigali governments and the integration of former CNDP
rebels into the FARDC following the signing of the 23 March 2009 agreement.
The UNSC, however, still considered the situation in eastern DRC extremely
volatile, given the 1.5 million people displaced due to persisting insecurity.
Instead of complete withdrawal, however, a new mission with a stabilisation
component was created through UNSC Resolution 1925 (Boutellis and Lacaille
2011). This mission was named the United Nations Organization Stabilization
Joyce Muraya and John Ahere
Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO) and replaced
the United Nations Organization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the
Congo (MONUC).
The second mission, MONUSCO, was authorised to use ‘all necessary means’
to fulfil its mandate relating to, inter alia, the protection of humanitarian
personnel, civilians and human rights defenders under imminent threat of
grievous harm, and to support the DRC government in its stabilisation and
peace consolidation efforts. On 28 March 2014, the UNSC, in its resolution
2147, extended MONUSCO’s mandate until 31 March 2015 and decided that
the renewed directive would also include MONUSCO’s Intervention Brigade,
within the authorised troop ceiling of 19 815 military personnel, 760 military
observers and staff officers, 391 police officers and 1 050 formed police units
(United Nations 2014). With the vastness of the Kivus and the existence of
many armed groups spread across the country, it is more than likely that these
troops will still be stretched for a while. The renewed mandate will, however,
provide the teeth that the mission has been missing in decisively dealing with
armed groups.
Froitzheim (2014) advances that stabilisation is grounded in the security
imperative of removing or reducing threats, by armed groups for example,
and encompasses both military and civilian interventions. Thus, stabilisation
approaches can range from direct security action to counter threats to aspiring
social transformation through interlinking peacebuilding, statebuilding and
development initiatives.
MONUSCO has had its fair share of criticism. Peacekeepers have, for
instance, been accused of standing by in the past, notably when M23 rebels
conquered the city of Goma for 10 days in November 2012 (Vogel 2013).
MONUSCO has also been accused of failing in its two objectives: protection
of civilian populations and providing assistance in restoring state authority.
The mission has a dismal record in terms of its ability to protect civilians.
It has been accused of contributing to challenges faced by local populations in
differentiating between military operations and humanitarian activities (Vogel
2013). Notwithstanding this, it is noteworthy that towards the end of 2013, the
MONUSCO Intervention Brigade obliterated the M23. Even as they execute
Perpetuation of instability in the Democratic Republic of the Congo
their mandate, neither the UN staff involved in peacekeeping nor the UNSC
have attempted to design a strategy addressing local causes of the conflicts in the
DRC, either during the war or after ceasefires (Menondji 2013). By focusing on
national and regional issues, the peacebuilding and peacekeeping efforts of UN
staff have not been pragmatic in that they have not played very visible roles at
local level (Menondji 2013).
The examination of conflict dynamics in the DRC and an assessment of
factors that could play a part in the perpetuation of conflicts bring to the fore
certain issues which, if addressed, might significantly contribute to the resolution
of the situation in the Kivus and, by extension, add to the efforts to achieve
sustainable peace in the DRC. In the sections below, some recommendations
for consideration by local, national, regional and international actors with an
interest in the situation in the Kivus are offered.
Enhance governance and relations between local and national
Due to the geographical vastness of the country, it is important that the
Government of the DRC continues to prioritise efforts to not only empower
provincial administrations, but to also work with and through them to deliver
much needed services to citizens. The loyalty of Congolese to the government
will, in the long run, be sustainably harnessed through better service delivery.
This can best be achieved through working with, and not at odds with, respective
provincial administrations under the constitutionally allowable frameworks.
Encourage recognition of the central role of security
The capacity to monopolise violence should be entrusted to the government.
This has not been the case in the DRC, where rebels and militia have in the past
run parallel governments in areas they control. Improvements in the security
sector and enhanced state capacity to monopolise violence should be prioritised
if the DRC is to make progress within fragmented areas. Addressing problems
within the national army should be a high priority on the government’s list, to
ensure that issues such as the FARDC’s involvement with armed groups and
mineral exploitation are addressed.
Joyce Muraya and John Ahere
In addressing the problem of local armed groups, the government should
opt for less militarised forms of interventions as this has greater chances of
dealing with the underlying issues that provide the rationale for the formation
and sustenance of armed groups. The gun alone will not decimate rebellions.
Ensure clarity of long-term peacebuilding strategies
This paper has alluded to some challenges with post-crisis recovery strategies
used by the international community, through the UN, in the DRC. Actors and
stakeholders in the international community operating or interested in working
in the DRC need to do away with approaching the work with piecemeal efforts
that focus on quick-impact short-term objectives. Whereas these might have
their short-term benefits, for conflict transformation to continue to occur, it is
necessary to adopt longer-term strategies towards the achievement of medium
to longer-term transformative impacts. While the immediacy of the situation
may necessitate the use of short-term strategies such as humanitarian relief, this
will only allow for the problems to be addressed in a superficial way. Short-term
strategies that address emergency situations should be employed in tandem
with longer-term strategies which are more successful at getting to the roots
of problems.
Longer-term strategies based on empirical understanding of problems in the
DRC should be employed to arrive at a definition of what lasting peace in the
context of the DRC means. This shared vision should take into account existing
structures and build on what is already available.
Harness the power of local capacities in analysis and interventions
International actors should reconsider the tendency to primarily focus on
regional and national issues in their analysis of the conflict in the DRC, whilst
only offering a cursory view and investigation of local level dynamics. Autesserre
(2012) states that most intervention is misguided as foreign diplomats, UN
peacekeepers and numerous non-governmental organisations (NGOs) attribute
the fighting to exclusive national and international tensions brought on by
power struggles between and among Congolese and foreign elites. Therefore,
intervention strategies are considered from a national and regional level, as
actors fail to recognise that largely, the main causes of violence are local ones,
Perpetuation of instability in the Democratic Republic of the Congo
which expand. Autesserre (2012) argues that many solutions to these problems
have been superficial. She recommends that intervention strategies should take
into consideration the fact that national and regional cleavages are as influential
as local rifts in prompting fighting in the Kivus, and that a holistic approach
should be the only way. International organisations should expand their
mandate to not only deal with central governments, as the conflicts in the Kivus
are deeply rooted in local and ethnicity-based identities.
However, when analysing the local linkages, there needs to be a clear
understanding of the motivating factors behind the different actors. Whilst
some groups, like the Mai-Mai, may have tenuous links to political elites and
are more rooted in the local realities of rural life, others have had strong linkages
with political elites; among them the M23, which allegedly had the backing of
the Rwandan government. Thus, taking into consideration these complexities
and the extent to which armed actors’ networks run is critical to coming up with
pragmatic solutions.
Encourage and support local ownership of socio-economic and
political processes
In post-conflict contexts, the notion of local ownership conveys the common
wisdom that any peace process which is not embraced by those who have to live
with it is unlikely to succeed. This is partly due to the consideration that externally
driven peacebuilding processes tend to be unsustainable. Interventions by the
international community, therefore, should be need-based while the priorities,
sequencing and pace of delivery must take into consideration the dynamics of
the respective conflict system, through local ownership and meaningful internal
and external coordination (De Coning 2008). This approach also allows for
divergence from an overly liberalised approach that includes many prescriptions
and demands, to one that acknowledges the fact that conflict transformation
has to take into account the existing historical, cultural and social foundations
of the conflict area. These include the legacies of violence, impacts of the
international system in a conflict society, and the peacebuilding initiatives that
the country concerned has experienced.
Joyce Muraya and John Ahere
Increase accountability, coherence and coordination among civil
society actors
As of 2010, there were at least 171 organisations active in the peace sector in
the Kivus; the majority of which are local entities whose work is supported
by international NGOs (Morvan and Nzweve 2010). Engagement has mostly
revolved around assisting in mediating local land and inter-family disputes and,
to a lesser extent, addressing economic and armed conflicts. This has largely
been due to lack of capacity to engage political leaders in constructive dialogue.
Field interviews which the authors conducted in August 2012 revealed that in
some engagements, civil society is highly politicised and mainly acts as a locus
for partisan competition and, for those in power, as a springboard for political
careers. Coherence and coordination are negatively affected by polarisation
of the activities of these organisations, where they show a clear bias towards
their own ethnic and interest groups in the course of their work. Furthermore,
there has been an overdependence on international funding, which stymies
organisations’ flexibility in making decisions, with the majority bending to the
will of donors.
Finally, the authors’ inference from interviews with civil society actors
is that civil society in the DRC has been accused of deriving legitimacy from
political elites and parties, with the result that they deviate from their main
advocacy goals. To this end, civil society actors need to be held accountable for
their activities, and must act in line with a clear strategy which deciphers how
to effectively coordinate efforts to achieve set and agreed on objectives. If they
do not, they will be viewed suspiciously by the very communities they mean
to assist.
The conflicts in the Kivus are part of a larger intricate web of conflicts in the
DRC. The situation in the Kivus has, in recent times, had massive impacts not
only on the country but also the entire Great Lakes region. Each time there has
been conflagration in the Kivus, the effects on Kinshasa and the entire country
have been massive, to such an extent that they capture national, regional
and international attention due to the deadly humanitarian morass that
Perpetuation of instability in the Democratic Republic of the Congo
accompanies incidences of instability. It is therefore important to properly
analyse the dynamics of the situation in the Kivus because by doing so,
practitioners and actors will be better able to conceive initiatives which may be
effective in not only deescalating conflicts, but also dealing with structural issues
that cause and perpetuate them. Inadequate attention to addressing structural
issues in the Kivus has contributed to making the conflicts in the DRC seem
intractable. This paper has attempted to offer arguments as to why hostilities
subsist, in spite of the post-crisis recovery initiatives implemented in the country.
These arguments offer perspectives that can enrich conflict resolution
programmes and processes.
Even though this paper focused on the Kivus, it should be noted that the
Kivus are only part of the vast territory of the DRC, where other regions also
experience linked conflicts. However, it is a summation of this paper that
the resolution of the conflicts in the Kivus is an indispensable element in the
peacebuilding process and the transformative journey of the DRC. Ultimately,
the DRC cannot purport to be stable if the situation in the Kivus is not
structurally resolved.
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Map of the DRC
Kikwit Kongolo
Kenge Bulungu
Dilolo Kasenga
Libenge Businga
Kasese Jinja
Pl a t e a u
S U D -
0 100 200 mi
200 300 km100
National capital
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City, town
Major airport
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Map No. 4007 Rev. 10 UNITED NATIONS
July 2011
Department of Field Support
Cartographic Section
The boundaries and names shown and the designations used
on this map do not imply official endorsement or acceptance
by the United Nations.
ISSUE 1, 2014
Perpetuation of instability in
the Democratic Republic of the
Congo: When the Kivus sneeze,
Kinshasa catches a cold
By Joyce Muraya and John Ahere
... For decades, the province had been considered the breadbasket of the whole country, supplying food to national and international markets [2,3]. However, the province's prominence in agriculture started to decline in the mid-1990 s, due to a rise in armed conflicts that created instability and massive displacement of rural populations [4][5][6]. The insecurity caused by internal conflicts has deterred farmers from investing in agricultural production [5]. ...
Full-text available
Postharvest management of grain and seed is a challenge among smallholder farmers. Limited information is available on how smallholder farmers in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), who have been exposed to multiple conflicts, manage grain and seed after harvest. We interviewed 690 smallholder farmers in Lubero (Baswagha chiefdom) and Rutshuru (Bwisha and Bwito chiefdoms) territories of the North Kivu province of the DRC to assess how they dried and stored their crops. Results reveal that 95% and 80% farmers produced beans and maize, respectively. About half of respondents in Bwisha grew soybean, suggesting production diversification using conflict-resistant crops to minimize thefts and looting. Rotting and theft were the major challenges during field drying, while insects (81.3%) were the most important issue during storage. Sixty-six percent of farmers did not protect their grain during storage, exposing it to insect damage. Farmers producing beans in both Bwisha and Bwito, farmers storing beans and maize, and those storing for more than three months were more likely to protect their grains during storage. More than 70% of farmers saved seed for planting the next season but suffered significant weight losses of up to 50% due to insects. Storing grain in hermetic bags for six months had an estimated return on investments of up to 63% for maize in Baswagha and 54% for beans in Bwisha. Improved drying and storage technologies would help smallholder farmers to reduce their grain postharvest losses due to mold, theft, and insects. Smallholder farmers using these improved postharvest technologies have the opportunity to secure quality grain for home consumption and sale, and seed for planting.
Full-text available
This article investigated the manner in which multiple ethnic association cohabitate in Lubumbashi in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The article explored the causes of the conflicts and analysed the government strategies put in place to curb the conflicts of the ethnic associations. The article provides a system of governance that can help Lubumbashi ethnic associations to cohabitate in unity and peace. The conflicts are ethnically driven and therefore, the article sought the participants' perceptions through semi-structured interviews and focus group discussions. The article used a mixed research method and engaged 40 participants selected randomly drawn from a population of 1 373 770 Congolese in Lubumbashi. The article discovered that the causes of the conflicts among the Lubumbashi ethnic associations could be traced back to the colonial epoch. The principal cause of the ethnic conflicts was the desire for power. The article established that during the colonial era, other ethnic groups were brought from other provinces to Katanga province, particularly in Lubumbashi, as cheap mining labourers. However, the inhabitants who originally hailed in Lubumbashi (Katangese) were not comfortable to be governed by other ethnic groups who originated from other provinces of the DRC. This led to the formation of the Katanga Foundation (FONKAT) to fight other ethnic groups in order to maintain its supremacy in the Katanga province. The article proposed a multiplicity ethnic governance framework. The framework reinforces the idea of national integration, power rotation, participation and inclusion of all ethnic groups in the Katanga governance.
The chapter maps urban policy in Southern Africa with a view of building a sustainable and inclusive framework in which children, women, the elderly and disabled are embraced. It is premised on the observation that colonial urban policy was very explicit on who could live in the city and who could not. The colonial city for the Africans was more for the economically active males and less for the children, women and disabled. The landscape soon changed with attainment of independence and democracy, enabling families to live together in the city. But democracy had unintended consequences, such as the detriment of critical aspects of health, and on the adequacy and efficacy in general service delivery. If sustainability and inclusivity are to be a priority today, in most cases, retrofits are necessary. However, the costs of retrofits are in themselves a huge challenge on the basis of acceptability, affordability, cultural acceptance and political patronage. Using case studies and comparative policy analysis, the chapter illustrates the aforesaid manifestations and nuances in the dilemmas of achieving inclusive and sustainable cities in Southern Africa.
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This article aims to ponder the effects of political instability and, rebel insurgency, in particular, have on Africa's regional integration frameworks by drawing insights from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The upsurge of militias has been a norm in some African countries such as the Central African Republic, Somalia and Sudan. This article utilized a qualitative method. When one adopts this type of method, s/he anticipates gathering a robust viewpoint pertaining to human behaviour and the rationale behind it. Data retrieved was drawn from secondary sources such as books, chapters in books, journal articles, credible online sources and policy briefs that monitor African conflict (especially the DRC). Similarly, the political instability that continues to take centre stage in the DRC because of many and diverse rebel groups fighting for the country's prestigious resources has produced a web of both internal and external instability, further crippling the country's economy, neighbouring countries and Africa's regional integration blueprints.
Northern Ireland and South Africa are two of the longest and most notorious examples of ethnic conflict. The Catholic and Protestant communities of Northern Ireland, tied together under British rule institutionalized in 1920, have fought continuously. The conflict has not only been destabilizing for Northern Ireland, it has also been a constant source of trouble for the British government and has attracted the attention of prominent countries such as the United States. The 1998 Good Friday Peace Agreement seeks to end the sectarian hostility and put into place a local government supported by both communities. What is interesting is that despite the length and severity of violence in Northern Ireland, the conflict has been contained within the borders of the United Kingdom. Conversely, the ethnic conflict in South Africa has both drawn in a number of international actors, ranging from other nation-states to the United Nations to international organizations such as Amnesty International, and spilled over into neighboring African countries. From its colonization by the British until the establishment of majority rule in 1994, South Africa was ruled by a White minority that constituted less than one-fifth of the entire country’s population. During that time the Black population (roughly 70% of the population) struggled without fundamental political, civil, legal or economic rights. The separation of the White and Black communities, enshrined in the legal centerpiece of Apartheid, and the government’s brutal repression of Black demonstrations eventually turned South Africa into an international pariah.
Celebrities are increasingly front and centre in public debates on everything from solving world poverty to halting genocide, confronting obesity, and finding spiritual contentment. Bono, Bill Gates, Al Gore, Bob Geldof, Oprah, Madonna, and Angelina Jolie are just some of the entertainers, politicians, pundits, elite business people, and policy-makers whose highly visible political activism has become an integral part of their public personas. These pop icons tend to be celebrated as philanthrocapitalists with a unique ability to remedy the worlds problems. However, as Age of Icons demonstrates, the solutions these icons promote for addressing global injustice, when examined critically, can be seen to work through the very same institutions that create these problems in the first place. This volume assesses the growing role of popular icons in the construction of a culture that appears to incorporate a critical attitude towards the capitalist experience while, in fact, legitimizing the neoliberal character of the modern world. It will be an eye-opening read for anyone interested in the juncture between current events and celebrity culture.
The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is recognized as the second most ethnically diverse nation in the world. Karbo and Mutisi provide an account of the many years of ethnic conflict in this region including an analysis of origins and crucial events. Various probable causes and consequences are reviewed which provide impetus for the associated recommendations for obtaining peace. Several factors are noted as contributing to the negative sentiments between ethnic groups in the DRC, including early political decisions regarding eligibility for citizenship of specific regions. The authors acknowledge the early existence of a shared culture between two of the groups involved in conflict and present perspectives that a mythology of ethnic difference has been created and perpetuated by colonizers, political powers, foreign interests, rebel groups and media. Karbo and Mutisi provide some reasons for the continued conflict throughout several states, including and surrounding the DRC, such as the weakness of state government. Foreign and rebel control of mining operations are viewed as contributing to the poor economy, thus exacerbating government inability to provide adequate social services, and resources for redevelopment projects. The authors view the current sense of deprivation and loss of security as setting the stage for further violence and conflict behavior. Descriptions of the dire conditions in which the citizens of the DRC live are presented and provide motivation to enact the recommended changes that the authors hope will finally end these conflicts. Proposed actions include international assistance to strengthen the government, create security for citizens, address poverty, provide troops to cease current hostilities, and build a functional legal infrastructure. Internal steps towards conflict resolution are proffered, including peace conferences and challenge of the perpetuated ethnic mythology to engender civil society. Cheryl Jorgensen
Understanding Ethnic Conflict provides all the key concepts needed to understand conflict among ethnic groups. Including approaches from both comparative politics and international relations, this text offers a model of ethnic conflict's internationalization by showing how domestic and international actors influence a country's ethnic and sectarian divisions. Illustrating this model in five original case studies, the unique combination of theory and application in Understanding Ethnic Conflict facilitates more critical analysis of contemporary ethnic conflicts and the world's response to them.