Second Congo War

Second Congo War
Part of the Congo conflicts and the aftermath of the Rwandan Genocide

Rape has been used as a weapon of war in both the First and Second Congo Wars. Original caption states: "Photo: USAID/Leah Werchick; Rape victims who have been successfully reintegrated into their communities assemble in a 'peace hut' near Walungu, South Kivu in DRC."
Date2 August 1998 – 18 July 2003
(4 years, 11 months, 2 weeks and 2 days)
LocationDemocratic Republic of the Congo

Military stalemate


 Democratic Republic of the Congo
Anti-Ugandan forces:
 Sudan (alleged)

Anti-Rwandan militias:

Anti-Burundi militias:

Rwandan-aligned militias:

Ugandan-aligned militias:

Anti-Angolan forces:
Foreign state actors:
Uganda Uganda
Rwanda Rwanda
Burundi Burundi

Note: Rwanda and Uganda fought a short war in June 2000 over Congolese territory.

Commanders and leaders

DR Congo:
Laurent-Désiré Kabila
Joseph Kabila

Sam Nujoma
Dimo Hamaambo
Martin Shalli

Robert Mugabe
Emmerson Mnangagwa
Constantine Chiwenga
Perence Shiri

José Eduardo dos Santos
João de Matos

Idriss Déby

Jean-Pierre Bemba

Ernest Wamba dia Wamba

Tutsi groups:
Laurent Nkunda

Yoweri Museveni

Paul Kagame

Pierre Buyoya


Mai Mai: 20–30,000 militia

Interahamwe: 20,000+

RCD: Unknown

Rwanda: 8,000+[1]

Casualties and losses

Thousands 2,000 Ugandans (Kisangani only)[2]

4,000 rebel casualties (Kinshasa only)

2.7–5.4 million excess deaths (1998–2008)[3][4]

350,000+ (violent deaths 1998–2001)[5][6]

The Second Congo War (also known as the Great War of Africa or the Great African War, and sometimes referred to as the African World War) began in August 1998 in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, little more than a year after the First Congo War, and involved some of the same issues. The war officially ended in July 2003, when the Transitional Government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo took power. Although a peace agreement was signed in 2002, violence continued in many regions of the country, especially in the east.[7] Hostilities have continued since in the ongoing Lord's Resistance Army insurgency, and the Kivu and Ituri conflicts.

Named the deadliest war in modern African history, the Second Congo War has directly involved nine African countries, as well as approximately 20 separate armed groups. By 2008, the war and its aftermath had caused 5.4 million deaths, principally through disease and starvation,[8] making the Second Congo War the deadliest conflict worldwide since World War II.[9] Another 2 million are displaced from their homes or sought asylum in neighbouring countries.[7][10]

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.[11] The war was driven by (as the conflicts afterwards have been) the trade in conflict minerals, among other things.[12][13]


Kabila's march to Kinshasa

Main article: First Congo War

The First Congo War began in 1996 as Rwanda grew increasingly concerned that members of Rassemblement Démocratique pour le Rwanda Hutu militias, who were carrying out cross-border raids from Zaire, were planning an invasion of Rwanda. The militias, mostly Hutu, had entrenched themselves in refugee camps in eastern Zaire, where many had fled to escape the Tutsi-dominated Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) in the aftermath of the Rwandan Genocide of 1994.

The new Tutsi-dominated RPF government of Rwanda (in power from July 1994) protested this violation of Rwandan territorial integrity and began to give arms to the ethnically Tutsi Banyamulenge of eastern Zaire. The Mobutu government of Zaire vigorously denounced this intervention but possessed neither the military capability to halt it nor the political capital to attract international assistance.

With active support from Uganda, Rwanda, and Angola, the Tutsi forces of Laurent-Désiré Kabila moved methodically down the Congo River, encountering only light resistance from the poorly trained, ill-disciplined forces of Mobutu's crumbling regime. The bulk of Kabila's fighters were Tutsis, and many were veterans of various conflicts in the Great Lakes region of Africa. Kabila himself had credibility as a long-time political opponent of Mobutu, and had been a follower of Patrice Lumumba (the first Prime Minister of the independent Congo), who was executed by a combination of internal and external forces in January 1961, to be replaced by Mobutu in 1965.[14]

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 Che Guevara in his account of the early years of the conflict portrayed him as an uncommitted and uninspiring leader.[14]

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 of brutal repression by the rebel army. A UN human-rights investigator published statements from witnesses claiming that Kabila's ADFLC (Alliance of Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Congo) engaged in massacres, and that the advancing army killed as many as 60,000 civilians (a claim which the ADFLC strenuously denied). Roberto Garreton stated that his investigation in Goma turned up allegations of disappearances, torture and killings. He quoted Moïse 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 that the Kinshasa government surrender. On 27 March the rebels took Kasenga. The government denied the rebels' 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 2 April a new Prime Minister of Zaire, Étienne Tshisekedi—a longtime rival of Mobutu—was installed. Kabila, by this point in control of roughly 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 April 1997 the ADFLC made consistent progress in its advance from the east, and by May its troops had reached the outskirts of Kinshasa.[15] Mobutu fled Kinshasa on May 16, and the "libérateurs" (liberators) entered the capital without serious resistance.[15] Mobutu fled the country and died in exile in Morocco four months later. Kabila proclaimed himself president on May 17, 1997, and immediately ordered a violent crackdown to restore order. Kabila began an attempt at reorganisation of the nation.

Unwelcome support from other African nations

When Kabila gained control of the capital in May 1997, he faced substantial obstacles to governing the country, which he renamed the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) from Zaïre . Beyond political jostling among various groups to gain power and an enormous external debt, his foreign backers proved unwilling to leave when asked. The conspicuous Rwandan presence in the capital also rankled many Congolese, who were beginning to see Kabila as a pawn of foreign powers.

Tensions reached new heights on 14 July 1998, when Kabila dismissed his Rwandan chief of staff, James Kabarebe, and replaced him with a native Congolese, Celestin Kifwa. Although the move chilled what was already a troubled relationship with Rwanda, Kabila softened the blow by making Kabarebe the military advisor to his successor.

Two weeks later Kabila chose to abandon his previous decision. He thanked Rwanda for its help and ordered all Rwandan and Ugandan military forces to leave the country. Within 24 hours Rwandan military advisors living in Kinshasa were unceremoniously flown out. The people most alarmed by this order were the Banyamulenge Tutsi of eastern Congo. Their tensions with neighbouring ethnic groups had been a contributing factor in the genesis of the First Congo War and they were also used by Rwanda to affect events across the border in the DRC.


The initial rebel offensive threatened the Kabila government in a matter of weeks. A quick intervention of a number of other African states attempted to help the DRC in countering the rebel offense. As rebel forces were pushed back, it appeared for a time that an escalation in the conflict to a conventional war among multiple national armies loomed. Such an outcome was avoided as battle lines stabilised in 1999. After that, the conflict was fought for much of the time by irregular proxy forces with little change in the territories held by the various parties.

On 2 August 1998 the Banyamulenge in the town of Goma erupted into mutiny. Rwanda offered immediate assistance to the Banyamulenge and early in August a well-armed rebel group, the Rally for Congolese Democracy (RCD)—composed primarily of Banyamulenge and backed by Rwanda and Uganda—had emerged. This group quickly came to dominate the resource-rich eastern provinces and based its operations in Goma. The RCD quickly took control of the towns of Bukavu and Uvira in the Kivus. The Tutsi-led Rwandan government allied with Uganda, and Burundi also retaliated, occupying a portion of northeastern Congo. To help remove the occupying Rwandans, President Kabila enlisted the aid of refugee Hutus in eastern Congo and began to agitate public opinion against the Tutsis, resulting in several public lynchings in the streets of Kinshasa. On 12 August a loyalist army major broadcast a message urging resistance from a radio station in Bunia in eastern Congo: "People must bring a machete, a spear, an arrow, a hoe, spades, rakes, nails, truncheons, electric irons, barbed wire, stones, and the like, in order, dear listeners, to kill the Rwandan Tutsis."[16]

The Rwandan government also challenged current borders by claiming a substantial part of eastern Congo as "historically Rwandan". The Rwandans alleged that Kabila was organising a genocide against their Tutsi brethren in the Kivu region. The degree to which Rwandan intervention was motivated by a desire to protect the Banyamulenge, as opposed to using them as a smokescreen for its regional aspirations after ousting Mobutu Sese Seko, is still being debated.

In a bold move, Rwandan soldiers under the command of James Kabarebe hijacked three planes and flew them to the government base of Kitona on the Atlantic coast.[17] The planes landed in the middle of the Kitona base, but the motley collection of troops there (ex-FAZ, but also Angolan UNITA elements and former Lissouba militiamen from Brazzaville) were in poor condition and in no condition to fight unless given food and weapons.[18] They were quickly won over to the Rwandan side. More towns in the east and around Kitona fell in rapid succession as the combined RCD, Rwandan and rebel soldiers overwhelmed government forces amid a flurry of ineffectual diplomatic efforts by various African nations. By 13 August, less than two weeks after the revolt began, rebels held the Inga hydroelectric station that provided power to Kinshasa as well as the port of Matadi through which most of Kinshasa's food passed. The diamond center of Kisangani fell into rebel hands on 23 August and forces advancing from the east had begun to threaten Kinshasa by late August. Uganda, while retaining joint support of the RCD with Rwanda, also created a rebel group that it supported exclusively, the Movement for the Liberation of Congo (MLC).

Despite the movement of the front lines, fighting continued throughout the country. Even as rebel forces advanced on Kinshasa, government forces continued to battle for control of towns in the east of the country. The Hutu militants with whom Kabila was co-operating were also a significant force in the east. Nevertheless, the fall of the capital and Kabila, who had spent the previous weeks desperately seeking support from various African nations and Cuba, seemed increasingly certain.

The rebel offensive was abruptly reversed as Kabila's diplomatic efforts bore fruit. The first African countries to respond to Kabila's request for help were fellow members of the Southern African Development Community (SADC). While officially the SADC members are bound to a mutual defence treaty in the case of outside aggression, many member nations took a neutral stance to the conflict. However, the governments of Namibia, Zimbabwe and Angola supported the Kabila government after a meeting in Harare, Zimbabwe, on 19 August. Several more nations joined the conflict for Kabila in the following weeks: Chad, Libya and Sudan.

A multisided war thus began. In September 1998 Zimbabwean forces flown into Kinshasa held off a rebel advance that reached the outskirts of the capital, while Angolan units attacked northward from its borders and eastward from the Angolan territory of Cabinda, against the besieging rebel forces. This intervention by various nations saved the Kabila government and pushed the rebel front lines away from the capital. However, it was unable to defeat the rebel forces, and the advance threatened to escalate into direct conflict with the national armies of Uganda and Rwanda that formed part of the rebel movement.

In November 1998 a new Ugandan-backed rebel group, the Movement for the Liberation of Congo, was reported in the north of the country. On 6 November Rwandan President Paul Kagame admitted for the first time that Rwandan forces were assisting the RCD rebels for security reasons, apparently after a request by Nelson Mandela to advance peace talks. On 18 January 1999, Rwanda, Uganda, Angola, Namibia and Zimbabwe agreed on a ceasefire at a summit at Windhoek, Namibia but the RCD was not invited. Fighting thus continued.

Outside of Africa, most states remained neutral, but urged an end to the violence.

Foreign supporters of the Congo government

Belligerents of the Second Congo War:
Violet – Democratic Republic of the Congo
Orange – anti-DRC coalition
Dark blue – pro-DRC coalition
Light blue – DRC allies, not directly involved in the war.
Green – political supporters of DRC


Robert Mugabe's administration dispatched elements of the Zimbabwe National Army to the Democratic Republic of the Congo in 1998.[19] Mugabe, perhaps the most ardent supporter of intervention on Kabila's behalf, was the only major player involved in the conflict able to marshal a reasonably modern and experienced air force. Zimbabwe's military was also regarded as being one of the more well-equipped and professional of the region; however, the ZNA's combat performance remained somewhat mediocre.[20]

Zimbabwean strategy revolved around defending the person of Laurent Kabila alone with allied forces - as Congolese forces were thought to be unreliable - retake important settlements, and expel the rebels from the Kinshasa region. Mugabe's initial buildup in Kinshasha comprised special forces along with some paratroops, reportedly numbering between 600 and 1,000. By August 1998, two more battalions had been dispatched. They were accompanied by some Soviet-manufactured T-54/55 tanks, Crocodile armoured personnel carriers, and EE-9 Cascavel scout cars flown into the capital on Angolan Air Force planes. The contingent grew to 3,800 around November, and peaked at 12,000 in January 2001. The Zimbabweans began departing in 2002 and had completely withdrawn by the end of the year. Prior to this deployment, Zimbabwe had built up an apparently potent brigade-sized, combined arms, reaction force with efficient air support and professional competence; however the prolonged operations in the Congo are said to have damaged its credibility.[21]

The Air Force of Zimbabwe made particularly effective use of its air power, blunting rebel and Rwandan offensives on Mbuji-Mayi with repeated strikes by BAE Hawks and Hawker Hunters. It also sustained heavy losses during the conflict, including three of its six Mil Mi-24 Hind helicopters, a transport aircraft, and an unidentified interceptor, probably a Chinese Chengdu J-7.[22] Despite the effectiveness of its highly mobile, big-gunned Eland-90 and Cascavel armoured cars, Zimbabwean ground forces also lost a significant number either captured or destroyed by the rebel coalition.[23] As hardware losses multiplied, Western donors—including the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank placed their aid programmes to Harare under review,[22] denying Mugabe the foreign currency he needed to buy spares valued at $600,000,000 for fighting vehicles then employed in the Congo.[24]


Under the direction of its president Sam Nujoma, Namibia became involved in the Congo on behalf of its commitment to the Southern African Development Community. Nujoma, a longtime ally of Kabila, claimed he could not refuse the requests for military assistance from Zimbabwe and Angola. Windhoek's ruling SWAPO party had interests in Kinshasa similar to those claimed by Mugabe, including lucrative fish exports and a valuable stake with the Societé Minière de Bakwanga.[20] In February 1999, Namibian Defence Force personnel in the Congo numbered barely 1,000: likely a single infantry battalion with staff, artillery, and logistics support.[21] Between 2000 and 2001 this figure may have fluctuated between 1,600 and 2,000, though Namibian troops remained of little importance to the conflict. They were withdrawn by 2002,[20] by which point 30 servicemen had been killed in action[25] and the war effort was costing Namibia $150,000 a day.[26]

The Namibian intervention was greeted with intense criticism by opposition parties, as well as neighboring South Africa and several Western donors. The European Union expressed concern that Nujoma was misusing his country's development funds for the Congo expedition, and individual member states—including Finland—cut off financial aid. A furious diplomatic row also ensued with South African authorities after they suspended all outgoing military exports to the NDF.[25]


The Angolan government had fought against Mobutu Sésé Seko in the First Congo War because of his support for rebel UNITA in the Angolan Civil War.[27] The Angolan government wanted to eliminate UNITA operations in southern Congo, which exchanged diamonds extracted from rebel-held Angola for foreign weapons.

Angola had no confidence that a new president would be more effective than Kabila and feared that continued fighting would lead to a power vacuum that could only help UNITA. The intervention of the experienced Angolan forces was essential in deciding the outcome of both wars.


Kabila had originally discounted the possibility of support from Francophone Africa but after a summit meeting in Libreville, Gabon, on 24 September, Chad agreed to send 2000 troops. France had encouraged Chad to join as a means of regaining influence in a region where the French had retreated after the 1994 Rwandan genocide. Nevertheless, Chadian intervention resulted in a fiasco. Its forces were accused of serious human rights violations and looting virtually from their arrival in the country. They withdrew very quickly under international and national pressure and shame.[28]


Unconfirmed reports in September indicated that forces of the government of Sudan were fighting rebels in Orientale Province, close to the Sudanese and Ugandan borders. However, Sudan did not establish a significant military presence inside the DRC, though it continued to offer extensive support to three Ugandan rebel groups—the Lord's Resistance Army, the Uganda National Rescue Front II and the Allied Democratic Forces—in retaliation for Ugandan support for the Sudan People's Liberation Army.[29]


Estimate of territory held by factions in 2001 to 2003.

On 5 April 1999 tensions within the RCD about the dominance of the Banyamulenge reached a boiling point when RCD leader Ernest Wamba dia Wamba moved his base from Goma to Uganda-controlled Kisangani to head a breakaway faction named Forces for Renewal. A further sign of a break occurred when President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda and Kabila signed a ceasefire accord on 18 April in Sirte, Libya, following the mediation of Libyan President Muammar al-Gaddafi, but both the RCD and Rwanda refused to take part.

On 16 May Wamba was ousted as head of the RCD in favour of a pro-Rwanda figure. Seven days later the various factions of the RCD clashed over control of Kisangani. On 8 June rebel factions met to try to create a common front against Kabila. Despite these efforts, the creation by Uganda of the new province of Ituri sparked the ethnic clash of the Ituri conflict, sometimes referred to as a "war within a war".

Nevertheless, diplomatic circumstances contributed to the first ceasefire of the war. In July 1999 the Lusaka Ceasefire Agreement was signed by the six warring countries (Democratic Republic of Congo, Angola, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Rwanda and Uganda) and, on 1 August, the MLC (the RCD refused to sign). Under the terms of the agreement, forces from all sides, under a Joint Military Commission, would co-operate in tracking, disarming and documenting all armed groups in the Congo, especially those forces identified with the 1994 Rwandan Genocide.

Rebel soldiers photographed in the northern town of Gbadolite in 2000

Few provisions, however, were made to actually disarm the militias. The United Nations Security Council deployed about 90 liaison personnel in August 1999 to support the ceasefire. However, in the following months all sides accused the others of repeatedly breaking the cease-fire, and it became clear that small incidents could trigger attacks.

The tension between Uganda and Rwanda reached a breaking point in early August as units of the Uganda People's Defense Force and the Rwandan Patriotic Army clashed in Kisangani. In November government-controlled television in Kinshasa claimed that Kabila's army had been rebuilt and was now prepared to fulfil its "mission to liberate" the country. Rwandan-supported rebel forces launched a major offensive and approached Kinshasa but were eventually repelled.

By 24 February 2000, the UN authorised a force of 5,537 troops, the United Nations Organization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (known by the French acronym, MONUC), to monitor the cease-fire. However, fighting continued between rebels and government forces and between Rwandan and Ugandan forces. Numerous clashes and offensives occurred throughout the country, most notably heavy fighting between Uganda and Rwanda in Kisangani in May and June 2000.

On 9 August 2000 a government offensive in Equateur Province was stopped along the Ubangui River near Libenge by MLC forces. Military operations and diplomatic efforts made by the UN, African Union and Southern African Development Community failed to make any headway.


A Congolese soldier with a PK machine gun photographed near the Rwandan border in 2001

Assassination of Laurent-Désiré Kabila

On 16 January 2001, Laurent-Désiré Kabila was shot and killed by a bodyguard, Rashidi Muzelein. Kabila was assassinated at the presidential palace in Kinshasa. The government initially stated that Kabila was wounded but still alive when he was flown to Zimbabwe for intensive care.[30] Two days, later the government announced on state television that the desperate attempt by Zimbabwean medical personnel to save Kabila had failed and that Kabila had died from his injuries. His remains were returned for a state funeral on 26 January.

Background for the assassination

It is unknown who ordered the killing but most feel Kabila's allies were to blame as they were tired of his duplicity, in particular his failure to implement certain legislation and allow free elections. Angolan troops were highly visible at Kabila's funeral cortege in Kinshasa.

His assassination was committed by some of his bodyguards and masterminded by Rwanda, according to a Rwandan former intelligence chief and allegations made by DRCongo's officials. A Lebanese diamond dealer allegedly organised the logistics of the assassination, according to the documentary film "Murder in Kinshasa", made by Marlène Rabaud and Arnaud Zajtman[31][32]

Joseph Kabila becomes president

By unanimous vote of the Congolese parliament, his son, Joseph Kabila, was sworn in as president to replace him. That he won the election was largely due to Robert Mugabe's backing, and the fact that most parliamentarians had been handpicked by the elder Kabila. In February, the new president met Rwandan President Paul Kagame in the United States.[33] Rwanda, Uganda, and the rebels agreed to a UN pullout plan. Uganda and Rwanda began pulling troops back from the front line.

Joseph Kabila has been described as "a more adept political leader than his father".[7] As Chris Talbot notes, an article in the Washington Post "favourably contrasted Joseph Kabila—Western educated and English-speaking—with his father."[34] The author of the Washington Post article writes that Joseph Kabila gave diplomats "hope that things have changed", in contrast to Laurent-Désiré Kabila, who "stood as the major impediment to a peaceful settlement of the war launched in August 1998 to unseat him."[35] A peace accord Laurent signed in the summer of 1999, the Lusaka peace deal, "remained unfulfilled largely because he kept staging new offensives while blocking deployment of U.N. peacekeepers in government-held territory." To compare, according to an analyst from the London-based Economist Intelligence Unit, "The only obstruction had been Kabila because the [Lusaka] accord called for the government's democratic transition and that was a threat to his power."

UN investigates illegal exploitation of minerals

In April 2001, a UN panel of experts investigated the illegal exploitation of diamonds, cobalt, coltan, gold and other lucrative resources in the Congo. The report accused Rwanda, Uganda and Zimbabwe of systematically exploiting Congolese resources and recommended the Security Council impose sanctions.[36]


In 2002 Rwanda's situation in the war began to worsen. Many members of the RCD either gave up fighting or decided to join Kabila's government. Moreover, the Banyamulenge, the backbone of Rwanda's militia forces, became increasingly tired of control from Kigali and the unending conflict. A number of them mutinied, leading to violent clashes between them and Rwandan forces.

At the same time the western Congo was becoming increasingly secure under the younger Kabila. International aid was resumed as inflation was brought under control.

Peace agreements

Under the leadership of South Africa, peace talks held in that country between April and December 2002 led to the signing of a "comprehensive peace agreement."[7] The Sun City Agreement was formalised on 19 April 2002. It was a framework for providing the Congo with a unified, multipartite government and democratic elections. However, critics noted that there were no stipulations regarding the unification of the army, which weakened the effectiveness of the agreement. There were several reported breaches of the Sun City agreement, but it has seen a reduction in the fighting.

On 30 July 2002, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo signed a peace deal known as the Pretoria Accord after five days of talks in Pretoria, South Africa. The talks centered on two issues. One was the withdrawal of the estimated 20,000 Rwandan soldiers in the Congo. The other was the rounding up of the ex-Rwandan soldiers and the dismantling of the Hutu militia known as Interahamwe, which took part in Rwanda's 1994 genocide and continues to operate out of eastern Congo. Rwanda had previously refused to withdraw until the Hutu militias were dealt with.

Signed on 6 September, the Luanda Agreement formalised peace between Congo and Uganda. The treaty aimed to get Uganda to withdraw their troops from Bunia and to improve the relationship between the two countries, but implementation proved troublesome. Eleven days later the first Rwandan soldiers were withdrawn from the eastern DRC. On 5 October Rwanda announced the completion of its withdrawal; MONUC confirmed the departure of over 20,000 Rwandan soldiers.

On 21 October, the UN published its Expert Panel's Report of the pillage of natural resources by armed groups. Both Rwanda and Uganda rejected accusations that senior political and military figures were involved in illicit trafficking of plundered resources. Zimbabwe Defense Minister Sydney Sekeramayi says the Zimbabwean military withdrew from the DRC in October 2002, but in June 2006 reporters said a 50-man force had stayed in the DRC to protect Kabila.[19]

On 17 December 2002, the Congolese parties of the Inter Congolese Dialogue (the national government, the MLC, the RCD, the RCD-ML, the RCD-N, the domestic political opposition, representatives of civil society and the Mai Mai) signed the Global and All-Inclusive Agreement. The Agreement described a plan for transitional governance that would have result in legislative and presidential election within two years of its signing and marked the formal end of the Second Congo War.

2003 onwards: Transitional Government

On 18 July 2003, the Transitional Government came into being as specified in the Global and All-Inclusive Agreement out of the warring parties. The Agreement obliges the parties to carry out a plan to reunify the country, disarm and integrate the warring parties and hold elections. There were numerous problems, resulting in continued instability in much of the country and a delay in the scheduled national elections from June 2005 to July 2006.

The main cause for the continued weakness of the Transitional Government is the refusal by the former warring parties to give up power to a centralised and neutral national administration. Some belligerents maintained administrative and military command-and-control structures separate from that of the Transitional Government, but as the International Crisis Group has reported, these have gradually been reduced. A high level of official corruption siphoning money away from civil servants, soldiers and infrastructure projects causes further instability.

On 30 July 2006 the first elections were held in the DRC after the populace approved a new constitution. A second round was held on 30 October.

Aftermath and legacy

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Areas of continuing conflict

The fragility of the state has allowed continued violence and human rights abuses in the east. There are three significant centres of conflict:

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. 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.

Rwanda and Ugandan backing of rebels

Rwanda backed rebels due to fears of Hutu rebels on its border. The Kinshasa government was suspicious of Kigali's influence over the region, as Rwanda has occupied the area numerous times and some witnesses confirm that Rwanda has profited from the looting of Congolese minerals. Consequently, Rwanda supports the continuing rebellion of General Nkunda in Congo. The DRC wants assurance that Kigali aligned forces have no conflict-mineral or territorial interests in eastern Congo.[37]

On 19 December 2005 the United Nations International Court of Justice ruled that the DRC's sovereignty had been violated by Uganda, and that DRC had lost billions of dollars worth of resources. The DRC government has asked for $10 billion in compensation. Though the ICJ has taken many steps to ensure that war crimes and crimes against humanity will be prosecuted, the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank rewarded both Uganda and Rwanda with debt relief packages for improving their economic health during a time when much of their increased revenue was partially a direct result of illegally importing conflicted minerals from the DRC. In this case, international institutions such as the IMF and WB are allegedly at odds with international laws and charters. Both the IMF and WB have been accused of helping to facilitate the conflict in the DRC by rewarding combatants.[38]

Dispute over death toll

The Human Security Report Project (HSRR) of Simon Fraser University has challenged the toll of 5.4 million war-related deaths between 1998 and 2008. It states that of the IRC's five periodical estimates two that comprise a period from 1998-2001 are flawed, and the reported 2.6 million deaths within should not be included in the total death toll. The other three periodical IRC estimates comprise a period from May 2001-April 2007, and in which 2.83 million of the total 5.4 million deaths were reported. The HSRR argued that the estimates were built on a general death rate that was far too low for Congo, and that most of those people would have most likely died anyway. Thus, the IRC figure should be revised to 860,000 total war-related excess deaths.[39][40]

In response to the criticism from HSRR, one of the authors of the IRC report argued the following: Although there may have been small statistical discrepancies in the original study, the IRC report had been widely peer-reviewed and was judged to be an accurate estimate of the war-related excess deaths.[41]

See also


  1. "Africa's great war". The Economist. 4 July 2002.
  3. Coghlan B; Brennan RJ; Ngoy P; et al. (January 2006). "Mortality in the Democratic Republic of Congo: a nationwide survey" (PDF). Lancet. 367 (9504): 44–51. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(06)67923-3. PMID 16399152. Retrieved 27 December 2011.
  4. [Staff] (20100120) "DR Congo war deaths 'exaggerated'" BBC News
  5. International Rescue Committee ([undated]) Congo Crisis International Rescue Committee
  6. Les Roberts & others (2001) Mortality in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo: Results from Eleven Mortality Surveys (PDF) (Report) International Rescue Committee
  7. 1 2 3 4 Soderlund, Walter C.; DonaldBriggs, E.; PierreNajem, Tom; Roberts, Blake C. (2013-01-01). Africa’s Deadliest Conflict: Media Coverage of the Humanitarian Disaster in the Congo and the United Nations Response, 1997–2008. Waterloo: Wilfrid Laurier University Press. ISBN 9781554588787.
  8. "Congo war-driven crisis kills 45,000 a month-study". Reuters. 22 January 2008.
  9. Bavier, Joe (22 January 2007). "Congo war-driven crisis kills 45,000 a month: study". Reuters. Retrieved 2007-01-22.
  10. "Congo Civil War".
  11. "1,000 a day dying in Congo, agency says". Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. 10 December 2004.
  12. "Children of the Congo who risk their lives to supply our mobile phones". The Guardian. 7 December 2012.
  13. Rayner, Gordon (27 September 2011). "Is your mobile phone helping fund war in Congo?". The Daily Telegraph. London.
  14. 1 2 Ernesto "Che" Guevara, The African Dream
  15. 1 2 David van Reybrouck. Congo: The Epic History of a People. HarperCollins, 2012. p. 423ff. ISBN 978-0-06-220011-2.
  16. Hate messages on East Congolese radio, BBC News, 12 August 1998
  17. Prunier, 2009, pp. 181–82; see also New York Times News Service, "Rwanda Tied To Hijack of Jet in Congo," Chicago Tribune, 10 August 1998
  18. Gerard Prunier, From Genocide to Continental War: The "Congolese" Conflict and the Crisis of Contemporary Africa, Hurst & Company, 2009, ISBN 978-1-85065-523-7, p.182
  19. 1 2 'No Zim soldiers in DRC', 8 June 2006. The Herald. See also "The war that might not have been" Inter Press Service: Article about Zimbabwean soldiers' involvement, October 2004
  20. 1 2 3 Scramble for the Congo Anatomy of an Ugly War
  21. 1 2 Peter Abbott. Modern African Wars: The Congo 1960-2002 (1991 ed.). Osprey Publishing. pp. 41–42. ISBN 978-1782000761.
  22. 1 2 Zimbabwe losses add up in the Congo
  23. Zimbabwe Army crippled: Report exposes decay
  24. Zimbabwe: Controversy Over $600m Spare Parts For ZNA
  25. 1 2 No Namibian troops to DRC
  26. Namibia will withdraw troops once UN peacekeepers in place
  27. Reyntjens, Filip (24 August 2009). The Great African War: Congo and Regional Geopolitics, 1996–2006. Cambridge University Press. p. 62. ISBN 0-521-11128-5.
  28. "Congo at War: A Briefing of the Internal and External Players in the Central African Conflict". International Crisis Group. 17 November 1998. – subscription required
  29. "1999 World Report: Sudan". Human Rights Watch. 1999.
  30. "DRC: Introduction – The death of Laurent Desire Kabila". IRIN News. 12 February 2001.
  31. programme, Special. "Murder in Kinshasa". Retrieved 2016-08-30.
  32. Zajtman, Arnaud (2011-01-10), Murder in Kinshasa, retrieved 2016-09-03
  33. "Kabila praises Kagame talks". BBC News. 7 February 2001.
  34. Talbot, Chris. "The Congo: Unanswered questions surround Kabila's assassination - World Socialist Web Site". Retrieved 2016-02-16.
  35. Vick, Karl (2001-01-23). "The Ascendant Son in Congo". The Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved 2016-02-16.
  36. "Security Council Condemns Illegal Exploitation of Democratic Republic of Congo's Natural Resources". United Nations. May 3, 2001. Retrieved 2013-03-25.
  37. Chris McGreal (3 September 2007). "Fear of fresh conflict in Congo as renegade general turns guns on government forces". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 3 September 2007.
  38. Mullins, Christopher, and Roth, Dawn. "Gold, Diamonds and Blood: International State-corporate Crime in the Democratic Republic of the Congo." Contemporary Justice Review 11.2 (2008): 81–99. Ebscohost. 4 December 2012
  39. "Human Security Report 2009: The Shrinking Costs of War" (PDF). Human Security Report Project at the School for International Studies, Simon Fraser University. 20 January 2010. p. 43. Retrieved 21 January 2010.
  40. Michael Spagat, Andrew Mack, Tara Cooper and Joakim Kreutz, "Estimating War Deaths: An Arena of Contestation," Journal of Conflict Resolution, (2009); 53; 934–950.
  41. "DR Congo war deaths 'exaggerated'". BBC News. 20 January 2010. Retrieved 21 January 2010.

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