Congo Kinshasa - History - Civil Wars

Civil Wars

By 1996, following the Rwandan Civil War and genocide and the ascension of a Tutsi-led government, Rwandan Hutu militia forces (Interahamwe) fled to eastern Zaire and began refugee camps as a basis for incursion against Rwanda. These forces allied with the Zairian armed forces (FAZ) to launch a campaign against Congolese ethnic Tutsis in eastern Zaire. A coalition of Rwandan and Ugandan armies then invaded Zaire to overthrow the government of Mobutu, and ultimately control the mineral resources of Zaire, launching the First Congo War. This new expanded coalition of two foreign armies allied with some longtime opposition figures, led by Laurent-Désiré Kabila, becoming the Alliance des Forces Démocratiques pour la Libération du Congo-Zaïre (AFDL). In 1997, Mobutu fled the country and Kabila marched into Kinshasa, naming himself president and reverting the name of the country to the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Later, Laurent Kabila asked foreign military forces to return to their countries because he was concerned that the Rwandan officers running his army were plotting a coup in order to give the presidency to a Tutsi who would report directly to the Rwandan president, Paul Kagame. Rwandan troops retreated to Goma and launched a new Tutsi led rebel military movement called the Rassemblement Congolais pour la Democratie (RCD) to fight against their former ally, President Kabila, while Uganda instigated the creation of new rebel movement called the Movement for the Liberation of Congo (MLC), led by the Congolese warlord Jean-Pierre Bemba. The two rebel movements, along with Rwandan and Ugandan troops, started the Second Congo War by attacking the DRC army in 1998. Angola, Zimbabwe and Namibia became involved militarily on the side of the government to defend a fellow SADC member.

Kabila was assassinated in 2001 and was succeeded by his son Joseph Kabila, who called for multilateral peace talks to end the war. UN peacekeepers, MONUC, now known as MONUSCO, arrived in April 2001. Talks led to the signing of a peace accord in which Kabila would share power with former rebels. By June 2003 all foreign armies except those of Rwanda had pulled out of Congo. DR Congo had a transitional government until the election was over. A constitution was approved by voters, and on 30 July 2006 DRC held its first multi-party elections. An election result dispute between Kabila and Jean-Pierre Bemba turned into an all-out battle between their supporters in the streets of Kinshasa. MONUC took control of the city. A new election was held in October 2006, which Kabila won with 70% of the vote and on December 2006 the transitional government came to an end as Joseph Kabila was sworn in as President.

However, the Kivu conflict continued in the east. One of the former rebels integrated to the army, Laurent Nkunda, a member of a RCD branch, RCD-Goma, defected from the army along with troops loyal to him. They formed the National Congress for the Defence of the People (CNDP), which began an armed rebellion against the government and was believed to be again backed by Rwanda as a way to tackle the Hutu group, Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR). In March 2009, after a deal between the DRC and Rwanda, Rwandan troops entered the DRC and arrested Nkunda and were allowed to pursue FDLR militants. The CNDP signed a peace treaty with the government, in which it agreed to become a political party and its soldiers integrated into the national army in exchange for the release of its imprisoned members. In 2012, the leader of the CNDP, Bosco Ntaganda, and troops loyal to him mutinied and formed the rebel military March 23 Movement, claiming a violation of the treaty by the government. In the resulting M23 rebellion, M23 captured the provincial capital, Goma, in November 2012 and withdrew in December following negotiations. Neighboring countries, particularly Rwanda, have been accused of using rebels groups as proxies to gain control of the resource rich country and of arming rebels, a claim made by the United Nations and Human Rights Watch.

On and off fighting in the Ituri conflict occurred between the Nationalist and Integrationist Front (FNI) and the Union of Congolese Patriots (UPC) who claimed to represent the Lendu and Hema ethnic groups, respectively. In the northeast, Joseph Kony's LRA moved from their original bases in Uganda (where they have fought a 20-year rebellion) and South Sudan to DR Congo in 2005 and set up camps in the Garamba National Park. In northern Katanga, the Mai-Mai created by Laurent Kabila slipped out of the control of Kinshasa.

In 2009, people in the Congo may still be dying at a rate of an estimated 45,000 per month, and estimates of the number who have died from the long conflict range from 900,000 to 5,400,000. The death toll is due to widespread disease and famine; reports indicate that almost half of the individuals who have died are children under the age of 5. There have been frequent reports of weapon bearers killing civilians, destroying property, widespread sexual violence, causing hundreds of thousands of people to flee their homes or otherwise breaching humanitarian and human rights law. An estimated 200,000 women have been raped.

On February 24, 2013 a United Nations-backed accord aimed at stabilizing the Democratic Republic of the Congo called the Peace, Security and Cooperation Framework for the Democratic Republic of the Congo was signed in in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa by eleven African countries – Angola, Burundi, Central African Republic, Congo, the Republic of Congo, Rwanda, South Africa, South Sudan, Uganda and Tanzania (UN News Centre 2013).

Read more about this topic:  Congo Kinshasa, History

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