DRC: Civil war: 1997 - 2003
Updated June 2005
Kabila banned all political parties and ruled the country by decree, pending elections which were set for April 1999 while the ill-fated CNE was abolished (Country Watch 1998, Answers.com 2005).
Relations between Kabila and his regional backers rapidly deteriorated. On 2 August 1998 a new rebellion instigated and supported by Kabila's former allies, Rwanda and Uganda, erupted in the eastern Congo. This time the insurgency was led by the Rassemblement Congolais pour la Démocratie (RCD). Kabila was eventually rescued by the intervention of Angolan, Zimbabwean, and Namibian troops under the auspices of the SADC (Mthembu-Salter 2002, Institute for Security Studies 2005).
In the meanwhile insurrectionary front led by Mobutu loyalists and backed by Uganda (who had fallen out with her ally Rwanda), the Movement for the Liberation of the Congo (MLC), emerged in Equateur province in November 1998. The country was now divided into three. With SADC support Kabila controlled the western provinces; the north-east was in the hands of the MLC with Ugandan backing and the south-east in the control of Rwandan forces and their ally the RCD (Institute for Security Studies 2005).
In July 1999, a ceasefire was brokered in Lusaka, Zambia, which all parties signed by the end of August. The Lusaka Accord called for a cessation of hostilities, the deployment of MONUC, the UN peacekeeping mission to the DRC, the withdrawal of foreign armed forces, and the establishment of an Inter-Congolese Dialogue which would seek a political consensus on the transitional dispensation leading to elections (Mthembu-Salter 2002).
The signatories to the Lusaka peace agreement failed to respect provisions of the accord and drew increasing international condemnation for opposing the deployment of the MONUC, delaying progress toward an Inter-Congolese Dialogue, and prohibiting internal political activity. On 16 January 2001 Kabila was assassinated by his bodyguards and succeeded by his son, Joseph Kabila, who revived political and diplomatic efforts to bring peace back to the DRC (Mthembu-Salter 2002).
Restrictions on political parties were finally lifted on 17 May 2001 and the MONUC deployed its troops across the country. In October 2001, preliminary consultations to prepare the Inter-Congolese Dialogue started in Addis Ababa under the facilitation of the former president of Botswana, Ketumile Masire. The dialogue was ultimately convened in South Africa and began timidly on 25 February 2002 (See Le Dialogue Intercongolais [EN FRANÇAIS]). It included representatives from the government, unarmed political opposition, civil society, rebel groups and various militias (Institute for Security Studies 2005).
The talks petered out on April 19, 2002, when the government and the MLC brokered a bilateral agreement providing for a two and a half year transition headed by Joseph Kabila, seconded by two vice-presidents, each from the MLC and the RCD. The latter rejected the agreement and threatened to return to warfare, so the accord was never implemented. However another bilateral agreement was reached between Kabila and Rwanda in July 2002, leading to the withdrawal of Rwandan troops from Congolese soil and the phased withdrawal of Angolan, Zimbabwean and Ugandan troops (Mthembu-Salter 2002, Institute for Security Studies 2005).
The Inter-Congolese dialogue resumed in South Africa in October 2002. The talks resulted in an all-inclusive agreement, which was signed by all parties in Pretoria on 17 December 2002 and formally adopted at Sun City on April 2, 2003. The accord signed provided for the establishment of a two-year transitional government, with Joseph Kabila as president assisted by four vice-presidents, each representing the government, the opposition, the RCD and the MLC (Institute for Security Studies 2005).
ANSWERS.COM 2005 "Democratic Republic of the Congo", [www] http://www.answers.com/main/ntquery;jsessionid=16o66sa9kiwtz?tname=congo- country-zaire&curtab=2222_1&hl=congo&hl=country&hl=zaire&sbid=lc02a [opens new window] (accessed 10 Mar 2010).
COUNTRY WATCH 1998 "Country Information for the Congo (DRC)", [www] http://www.countrywatch.com/country_profile.aspx?vcountry=40 [opens new window] (accessed 10 Mar 2010).
INSTITUTE FOR SECURITY STUDIES 2005 "Democratic Republic of Congo: History and Politics", [www] http://www.iss.co.za/AF/profiles/DRCongo/Politics.html (offline10 Mar 2010).
MTHEMBU-SALTER, G 2002 "Recent History", IN Murison, K (ed), Africa South of the Sahara 2002, Europa Publications.