Congo has faced many small struggles. The major wars of the Congo are termed as Ist Congo War and Second Congo War. These wars resulted in huge loss and casualty. The First Congo War (November 1996 to May 1997) ended when Zairean President Mobutu Sésé Seko was overthrown by rebel forces backed by neighboring Uganda and Rwanda. Rebel leader Laurent-Désiré Kabila declared himself president and changed the name of the nation back to Democratic Republic of the Congo. The war set the foundation for, and was quickly followed by, the Second Congo War, also named the African World War, which began on August 2, 1998.
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The Second Congo War, also known as Africa’s World War and the Great War of Africa, began in August 1998 in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (formerly called Zaire), and officially ended in July 2003 when the Transitional Government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo took power (though hostilities continue to this day). The largest war in modern African history, it directly involved eight African nations, as well as about 25 armed groups. By 2008 the war and its aftermath had killed 5.4 million people, mostly from disease and starvation, making the Second Congo War the deadliest conflict worldwide since World War II. Millions more were displaced from their homes or sought asylum in neighboring countries. Despite a formal end to the war in July 2003 and an agreement by the former belligerents to create a government of national unity, 1,000 people died daily in 2004 from easily preventable cases of malnutrition and disease. The war and the conflicts afterwards are, among other things, driven by the trade of conflict minerals.
First Congo War
Mobutu had ruled Zaïre since 1965 with backing from the United States, which viewed him as a bulwark against the Communist MPLA in Angola, ZANU in Zimbabwe, and ANC in South Africa.
A wave of democratization swept through Africa in the early 1990s, following the collapse of the Soviet Union. There was substantial internal and external pressure for a democratic transition in Zaïre and Mobutu promised reform. He officially ended the one-party system he had maintained since 1967, but ultimately was unwilling to implement broad reform, alienating allies both at home and abroad.
There had long been considerable internal resistance to Mobutu’s rule. Opposition included leftists who had supported Patrice Lumumba as well as ethnic and regional minorities opposed to the dominance of the Kinshasa region. Kabila, an ethnic Katangese, had been fighting the Mobutu government for decades.
In what became known as the Great Lakes refugee crisis, 2 million Hutu refugees fled from Rwanda, fearing retaliatory genocide, after the Rwandan Patriotic Front took over the country in July 1994, ending the Rwandan Genocide. Among the refugees were members of the Interahamwe, militia groups linked to political parties who took part in the genocide earlier that year. They set up camps in eastern Zaire from which they attacked both Rwandan Tutsis and Banyamulenge, Zairian Tutsis. Mobutu, whose control of the country was beginning to weaken, supported the Hutu extremists for political reasons and did nothing to stop the ongoing violence.
Course of the war
When the vice-governor of South Kivu Province issued an order in November 1996 ordering the Banyamulenge to leave Zaire on penalty of death, they erupted in rebellion. The anti-Mobutu forces combined to form the Alliance of Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Zaire (AFDL). The AFDL received the support of the leaders of African Great Lakes states, particularly Paul Kagame of Rwanda and Yoweri Mucseveni of Uganda. Lacking foreign military assistance, many elements of the Zairian Army joined Laurent-Désiré Kabila as they marched from eastern Congo on Kinshasa.
With active support from Rwanda, Uganda and Angola, Kabila’s forces moved methodically down the Congo river, encountering only light resistance from the crumbling regime based in Kinshasa. The bulk of his fighters were Tutsis and many were veterans from conflicts in the Great Lakes region of Africa. Kabila himself had credibility because he had been a longtime political opponent of Mobutu, and was a follower of Patrice Lumumba, the first Prime Minister of the independent Congo who was murdered and overthrown from power by a combination of internal and external forces, to be replaced by the then Lt.-Gen. Mobutu. Kabila had declared himself a Marxist and an admirer of Mao Zedong. He had been waging armed rebellion in eastern Zaire for nearly two decades, although according to Che Guevara’s account of the conflict, he was an uncommitted and uninspiring leader.
Kabila’s army began a slow movement westward in December 1996 near the end of the Great Lakes refugee crisis, taking control of border towns and mines and solidifying control. There were reports of massacres and brutal repression by the rebel army. A UN human rights investigator published statements from witnesses claiming that the AFDL engaged in massacres, and that as many as 60,000 civilians were killed by the advancing army, a claim strenuously denied by the AFDL. Roberto Garreton stated that his investigation in Goma turned up allegations of disappearances, torture and killings. He quoted Moese Nyarugabo, an aide to Mobutu, as saying that killings and disappearances should be expected in wartime.
In March 1997, Kabila’s forces launched an offensive and demanded the government surrender. The rebels took Kasenga on March 27. These reports were dismissed by the government which would begin a long pattern of disinformation from the Defense Minister as to the progress and conduct of the war.
Talks were proposed in late March. Etienne Tshisekedi, a long time rival of Mobutu, became Prime Minister on April 2. Kabila, by this point in control of roughly 25% of the country, dismissed the coalition government as irrelevant and warned Tshisekedi that he would have no part in a new government if he accepted the post.
Throughout the month of April the AFDL made consistent progress down the river, and by May were on the outskirts of Kinshasa. On May 16, 1997, the multinational army headed by Kabila battled to secure Lubumbashi airport in the southeast of the country after peace talks broke down and Mobutu fled the country. He died on September 7, 1997 in Morocco.
Laurent-Désiré Kabila proclaimed himself president on the same day and immediately ordered a violent crackdown to restore order. He then began an attempt at reorganization of the nation as the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
However, once Kabila was in power, the situation changed dramatically. He quickly became suspected of corruption and authoritarianism comparable to Mobutu. Many pro-democratic groups abandoned him. He began a vigorous centralization campaign, bringing renewed conflict with minority groups in the east who demanded autonomy. Kabila began to turn against his former Rwandan allies when they showed little sign of withdrawing from his territory. He accused them and their allies of trying to capture the region’s mineral resources. His reliance on the Rwandan government for political and military aid contributed to the perception that he was a puppet of the Rwandan government.
In August 1998, Kabila dismissed all ethnic Tutsis from the government and ordered all Rwandan and Ugandan officials to leave the DRC. The two countries then turned against their former client, sending troops to aid rebels attempting to overthrow Kabila.
This paved the way for the beginning of the Second Congo War.
Second Congo War
The second Congo war was a consequence of first war Congo war. The First Congo War began in 1996 as Rwanda grew increasingly concerned that members of Rassemblement Démocratique pour le Rwanda militias, who were carrying out cross-border raids from Zaire (currently known as the Democratic Republic of Congo), were planning an invasion. The new Tutsi-dominated government of Rwanda protested this violation of their territorial integrity and began to give arms to the ethnically Tutsi Banyamulenge of eastern Zaire. This intervention was vigorously denounced by the Mobutu govrernment of Zaire, but he did not have any military capability to oppose, and little political capital to spend.
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With active support from Rwanda, Uganda and Angola, Laurent-Désiré Kabila’s rebel forces moved methodically down the Congo River, encountering only light resistance from Morbutu’s crumbling regime based in Kinshasa. The bulk of Kabila’s fighters were Tutsis and many were veterans from conflicts in the Great Luakes region of Africa. Kabila himself had credibility because he had been a longtime political opponent of Mobutu, and had been a follower of Patrice Lumumba, the first Prime Minister of the independent Congo who was murdered and overthrown from power by a combination of internal and external forces, to be replaced by the then-Lieutenant General Mobutu in 1965. Kabila had declared himself a Marxist and an admirer of Mao Zedong. He had been waging armed rebellion in eastern Zaire for more than three decades, though, according to Che Guevara’s account of the early years of the conflict, he was an uncommitted and uninspirational leader.
Kabila’s army began a slow movement westward in December 1996 near the end of the Great Lakes refugee crisis, taking control of border towns and mines and solidifying control. There were reports of massacres and brutal repression by the rebel army. A UN human rights investigator published statements from witnesses claiming that Kabila’s ADrFLC engaged in massacres, and that as many as 60,000 civilians were killed by the advancing army (a claim strenuously denied by the ADFLC). Roberto Garreton stated that his investigation in Goma turned up allegations of disappearances, torture and killings. He quoted Moese Nyarugabo, an aide to Mobutu, as saying that killings and disappearances should be expected in wartime.
Kabila’s forces launched an offensive in March 1997 and demanded the government surrender. On March 27 the rebels took Kasenga. The governments denied the rebel’s success, starting a long pattern of false statements from the Defense Minister as to the progress and conduct of the war.
Negotiations were proposed in late March and on April 2 a new Prime Minister was installed, Etienne Tshisekedi, a long time rival of Mobutu. Kabila, by this point in rough control of one quarter of the country, dismissed this as irrelevant, and warned Tshisekedi that he would have no part in a new government if he accepted the post.
Throughout the month of April the ADFLC made consistent progress down the river, and by May were on the outskirts of Kinshasa. On May 16, 1997 the multinational army headed by Kabila battled to secure Lubumbashi airport after peace talks broke down and Mobutu fled the country. He died on September 7, 1997 in Morocco. After securing victory, Kabila controlled Kinshasa. He proclaimed himself President on the same day and immediately ordered a violent crackdown to restore order. He then began an attempt at reorganization of the nation.
Aftermath and legacy
Areas of continuing conflict
The fragility of the state has allowed continued violence and human rights abuses in the east. There are three significant centers of conflict:
North and South Kivu, where a weakened FDLR continues to threaten the Rwandan border and the Banyamulenge, and where Rwanda supports RCD-Goma rebels against Kinshasa (see Kivu conflict);
Ituri, where MONUC has proved unable to contain the numerous militia and groups driving the Ituri conflict;
northern Katanga, where Mai-Mai created by Laurent Kabila slipped out of the control of Kinshasa.
The ethnic violence between Hutu- and Tutsi-aligned forces has been a driving impetus for much of the conflict, with people on both sides fearing their annihilation as a race. The Kinshasa- and Hutu-aligned forces enjoyed close relations as their interests in expelling the armies and proxy forces of Uganda and Rwanda dovetail. While the Uganda- and Rwanda-aligned forces worked closely together to gain territory at the expense of Kinshasa, competition over access to resources created a fissure in their relationship. There were reports that Uganda permitted Kinshasa to send arms to the Hutu FDLR via territory held by Uganda-backed rebels as Uganda, Kinshasa and the Hutus are all seeking, in varying degrees, to check the influence of Rwanda and its affiliates.
Possible Remedial Steps
Help by Developed nations.
Continued help and support by UNO and its members.
Efficient government and its policy.
Uplifting moral character and standard of the people by creating awareness and educating people.
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