Congo: Deals Made, Deals Broken


: Democratic Republic of the Congo (formerly Zaire)


February 7, 2010: Taking advantage of the fact that most of the gunmen in the Hutu militias were too young to have committed any crimes during the 1994 genocide of Tutsi in Rwanda, the government has been dropping leaflets offering them amnesty, and explaining that rebel leaders were lying about all Hutu being subject to punishment. This campaign cost the rebels about 500 men last year, and the desertion rate is more than doubling this year.

February 5, 2010: The Chinese government recently indicated that it is willing to provide more diplomatic and economic assistance in order to bring stability to the eastern Congo. China has informed both the Congolese and Rwandan governments of this aim. China holds a permanent seat on the UN Security Council, and supports the continuing MONUC peacekeeping effort. The promise of more direct involvement is no surprise, since China has significant investments in sub-Saharan Africa and in the Congo in particular.

January 28, 2010: The Mai Mai Kifuafua militia is complaining that the government has not come through on its peace deal commitments. The Mai Mai are miffed that the government has not provided the militiamen with the political jobs (including ministerial positions) they were promised over a year ago when the Kifuafua signed on the the Goma peace agreement. The Kifuafua militiamen have their critics. Recently a government spokesman said the militia had not done what many other former guerrilla groups have done, which is form a political party and engage the political process. However, politics does not seem to interest the Kifuafua and other Mai Mai militias. One disgruntled Kifuafua leader has threatened to go back into the bush and renew the rebellion.

January 27, 2010: The Russian government announced that its military will be training 30 more Congolese soldiers as part of a bilateral training agreement.

January 26, 2010: At least 15,000 people have fled renewed fighting in North Kivu province (eastern Congo). This estimate is based on the number of refugees fleeing to refugee camps in North Kivu. Most of the new refugees come from an area northwest of Goma, North Kivu's capital. The Congolese Army has been conducting operations in the area against the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR).

January 20, 2010: Researchers  have questioned the validity of a widely-published estimate for the number of dead killed in the Congo's various wars since 1995. One analysis said the figure of 5.4 million (generally attributed to the International Rescue Committee) is much too high and suggested 2.8 million deaths is more accurate. The truth is no one really knows. Many press reports rely on refugee statements made days (or even weeks) after a village has been attacked. Estimates of the death toll from exposure, disease, and starvation also vary widely. Many people die “in transit” as they flee attacks. More reasonable estimates run from three to five million, with 1998 used as the “baseline” year.

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