The Democratic Republic of the Congo (formerly Zaire) enters the new year with a new hope for the future: peace, after 4 years of bitter fighting between government forces and rebels in the east of the country led to 2.5 million deaths, in what has been described at Africa’s First World War.
Ethnic Tutsi militia, or Banyamuleques, supported by Rwanda and Uganda, invaded eastern DR Congo in 1998, accusing the government in Kinshasa of corruption and criminal mismanagement. The conflict drew in Angola and Zimbabwe, which sent troops to shore up the government army.
Joseph Kabila’s father, Laurent Desire Kabila, seized power in May 1997, after overthrowing the ailing dictator Mobutu Sese Seko Kuku Ngbendu wa Za Banga. He initially promised to hold elections in 1999 but reneged, until all foreign forces had left the territory. He was assassinated in January, 2001, when he was succeeded by his son Joseph.
Under the agreement, President Joseph Kabila will remain as the head of an interim government for two years, after which time legislative elections will be held, the first since the country’s independence from Belgium in 1960.
Four Vice-Presidents, representing the major political players in the DR Congo, will also join the government under Joseph Kabila while the 5,500 members of the Mission of the Observers from the United Nations for the Congo (MONUC) supervise the political transition process.
Timothy BANCROFT-HINCHEY PRAVDA.Ru