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From Kabila to Kabila: Prospects for Peace in the Congo

 PDF version of From Kabila to Kabila: Prospects for Peace in the Congo Click here to view the full report as a PDF file in A4 format.
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Joseph Kabila, son of the late Laurent D�sir� Kabila, speaks a far more peaceful language than that of his bellicose father. But he will not be able to deliver peace alone, and there are already signs that the many parties to the war in the Democratic Republic of Congo are heading for renewed confrontation. In a Congo that continues to fragment, Kabila�s patrons and his enemies are beginning to quarrel among themselves. What looms are a series of battles as the factions struggle for influence and spoils.

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

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

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

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

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

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



A. On Disengagement

1. Maintain pressure on the belligerents to disengage their forces under the terms of the Kampala and Harare Disengagement Plans.

2. Maintain pressure on Rwanda and Uganda on the one hand, and Angola and Zimbabwe on the other, to negotiate in good faith on complete withdrawal of their forces from the DRC. Such pressure can be maintained through reassessments of their qualifications to receive military and financial aid, debt relief and trade privileges.

B. On Dialogue

3. Give provisional support, including the progressive resumption of development aid, to Joseph Kabila�s regime on condition that: 1) he liberalises political activities and frees political prisoners; 2) he guarantees freedom of movement to all participants to the Inter-Congolese Dialogue as well as a peaceful working environment for Ketumile Masire�s team in Kinshasa; 3) he agrees to participate in the Inter-Congolese Dialogue as outlined in the Lusaka Cease-fire Agreement by supporting its preliminary and preparatory steps and consistently supporting Masire's activities.

4. Pressure the new government to immediately cease the repression of Kivutians and Equatorians on the territory it controls.

5. Pressure Rwanda and Uganda to have the RCD and FLC respect freedom of association in the territory they control and guarantee political party and civil society representatives' freedom of movement to meet Ketumile Masire�s team.

6. Pressure Rwanda and Uganda to respect International Humanitarian Law in the Eastern DRC and to have the RCD and FLC arrest human rights abusers within their ranks and discipline them severely.

C. On Disarmament

7. Pressure the new government and its allies to immediately cease support of the ex-FAR and FDD factions and to encourage the FDD to join the Burundi peace process.

8. Direct the UN Observer Mission, MONUC, to commence planning for a comprehensive disarmament, demobilisation, resettlement, and reintegration (DDRR) process of armed groups in the eastern DRC.

9. Implement UN Security Council Resolutions 918 (1994), 997 (1995), 1011 (1995), and 1341 (2001), as well as the recommendations of the report of the UN Commission of Enquiry on Rwanda (1997), which together provide a legal basis for the resumption of an arms embargo against the ex-FAR.


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

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

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

Nairobi/Brussels, 16 March 2001

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