I am honoured to address the conference on the
"CONFLICT IN THE GREAT LAKES REGION".
I am Dr. RaphaŽl Amici the President of the
Council of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. My Council strives through mediation and
consultations to contribute to a peaceful resolution of the conflict in our country and
We will therefore handle all aspects in an even handed and
completely objective manner. The information in our paper is as factual and impartial as
We will see that apart from the coup dEtat deposing
Mobutu led by Kabila and supported by members of the Tutsi tribe and supported by Uganda
there was for many years a linkage between the internal conflicts in the countries
of the Great Lakes Region, comprising the DRC, Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi.
The overflow of conflict across international borders in
the region was slowly but surely sowing the seeds of major conflict which was to grow and
be ready to be harvested in time to come.
This time arrived when Kabila decided the time was ripe to
violently oust Mobutu with the help of the Tutsis and also assistance from Uganda and
This event pulled the countries in the region and further
afield into an armed conflict particularly when the same people who put Kabila into power
turned against him and started the rebellion which is as yet unresolved.
B. THE ROOTS OF THE CONFLICT
Kabilas drive toward Kinshasa was the beginning of
trouble rather than the end, because of the political alignments in the region. Kabila
failed to stabilize Zaire within the region and it collapsed into secessionist movements,
the reverberations of which are felt all across Africa in the form of refugee movements,
large scale war with Namibia, Angola and Zimbabwe pulled into the fray on the side of
Kabila in the heart of the African continent. Fighting against the Kabila alliance
is the expelled Tutsis supported by Uganda.
The major part of understanding the roots of the present
Great Lakes Conflict depends on understanding Rwanda and Burundi. The current war in the
Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) is clearly linked to the instability in these two
countries and the presence for generations of these countries people, the Tutsis and Hutus
in eastern Zaire. The crisis of ex- Rwandan and ex Burundian soldiers using
refugees as human shields and launching cross border raids into Rwanda and Burundi was
compounded by a terrible policy error on the part of Zaire.
In late September 1996 the Vice-Governor of the South-Kivu
province told the Banyamulenge or ethnic Tutsis of the Mulenge Mountains in eastern Zaire
to return to Rwanda despite at least two centuries of ancestry in the then Zaire.
The Vice-Governors order of ethnic expulsion was
ill-timed, poorly- informed and deplorably bad strategy. It led to the immediate military
mobilization of the Banyamulenge which provided Rwanda and Uganda with allied forces that
could stop cross border incursions from opposition militias with limited direct
involvement, and it allowed Kabila and other anti- Mobutu forces and opportunity to
piggy-back this into a revolution against the Mobutu regime.
In just eight months this group of allied militias that
included many Tutsis occupied one third of this huge central African country.
A geopolitical understanding that is fundamental to any
effort to bring long term stability to the Great Lakes Region is to understand that the
ethnic distribution of Hutus and Tutsis is not confined within political boundaries. Of
some thirteen million people of Rwanda and Burundi approximately 85% are Hutu and 14%
However, two million of an estimated fifteen million Hutus
and Tutsis are located across the boundaries of Rwanda and Burundi in neighboring states.
Some four hundred thousand Tutsis, (and some Hutus) trace their ancestry to either the
DRCs North-Kivu province ( the Banyarwanda) or its South-Kivu province (the
These ethnic ties have created alliances such as the
particularly strong one between President Museveni of Uganda whose revolutionary movement
included many Tutsis, the minority Tutsi regimes in Rwanda and Burundi, and Kabilas
The Hutus have the sympathies of Tanzania, Kenya and even
Sudan. In fact most of the region is aligned in the Hutu/Tutsi conflict and such that
there is a delicate yet explosive web of alliances, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and Kabila was
in one camp allied with the Tutsis. Tanzania, Kenia, Mobutus Zaire and Sudan formed
a camp more aligned with the Hutus. The possibility exists that the war in Sudan could
become inter-linked with fighting in the Great Lake Region and to a degree that process
has began. Sudan already supports rebel movements inside the DRC that launch attacks into
The most significant long term consequence of the fighting
in 1996 was the demise of the Mobutu regime. In a lightning series of military maneuvers
(the logistics of which would have boggled the mind of super power military logisticians)
this armed coalition in support of Kabila took over most of the Kongo between October 1996
and May 1997. By the time this army marched into Kinshasa, Kabila had the regional support
not just of Rwanda and Uganda, but also most importantly of South-Africa, Angola,
Zambia, Zimbabwe, Tanzania and Namibia. The international business lobby was also quick to
make contact with the Kabila government keen to invest in the countries ample
Yet the triumph of Laurent Kabila brought formidable
problems to the political and economic fronts in the DRC.
Reports that delayed development assistance to the Kabila
government from Western sources by Human rights watch and Amnesty International in October
1997 accused Kabilas army of series of massacres of fleeing Hutu refugees. The
Kabila government with the support of Rwanda and Uganda, has resisted UN-sponsored
investigations of these alleged massacres.
Kabila, although a nationalist, is an outsider to the
complex politics of Kinshasa and his unwillingness to engage established political leaders
like Etienne Tshisekedi was detrimental to his local support. His legitimacy has in any
case been substantially eroded by the popular perception of him as a captive of a
"foreign" Tutsi army and of his forces as external occupiers who do not
understand the capital citys lingua franca, Lingala. (Zaire belonged to Gbadolite
Mobutus palace and Kinshasa home of his Administrators and Security
forces for the past thirty years).
So then in a matter of two years history repeated itself.
Under pressure from established political realities of Kinshasa and the local population
in general Kabila also ordered the Tutsis to go home to Rwanda.
There then followed the most incredible re-organisation of
alliances Uganda, Rwanda and the Tutsis who put Kabila into power mobilised against
him. A Tutsi led rebellion erupted against the Kabila government supported by Uganda. On
the side of Kabila Namibia, Angola and Zimbabwe entered the fray concluding a
seemingly never ending cycle of political and violent conflict in the Great Lakes Region.
C. RESOLVING THE CONFLICT IN THE GREAT LAKES
The factors comprising the historical and present conflict
in the region are as discussed under the heading THE ROOTS OF THE CONFLICT IN THE
GREAT LAKES REGION and to sum up they are:
A Ethnic divisions and animosity between tribes.
B Colonial boundaries leaving parts of ethnic groups
stranded across international borders.
C Dictatorships replacing colonial powers and coup
detatss replacing dictators.
D A new unique approach to conflict resolution in the
Great Lakes Region and UN and OAU participation.
E Democratic rule in the region.
Due to the time limitations I propose to only deal with
A NEW AND UNIQUE APPROACH TO CONFLICT RESOLUTION IN THE GREAT LAKES REGION and OAU
and UN participation plus THE ROAD TO DEMOCRATIC RULE IN THE REGION.
As is very evident from the factors discussed above there
now exist very deep seated and detrimental issues complicating conflict resolution in the
MY COUNCIL OF THE DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO is
convinced that because of the deep seated animosities between peoples and between leaders
in the region a new and unique approach towards solving the conflict in the region will
achieve the sought after success.
We believe that use should be made of the oil drop
principle- by putting the DRC on the road to national re conciliation, negotiations
and forming a strong government of national unity.
The political and violent conflict in the DRC must be
resolved in the first instance. We have a perfect role model to follow in the recent
developments in the Republic of South Africa which resolved one of the most complicated
racial conflicts on the Continent of Africa.
It is suggested to make use of mediating councils such as
the Council of the Democratic Republic of Congo to bring leaders in the Congo together
because of the historic and present tensions existing between leaders and heads of state
in the region. Official approaches at inter State or International organisation level will
be very unlikely to produce results.
I and my council members have not been involved in recent
conflicts and tension in the area between states and political leaders. We are able to
totally objectively mediate between leaders and to promote the process of negotiation and
Councils such as ours could contract International
Mediation Consultants to assist in the process of mediation and negotiation. We are
already very ably assisted by such a consultancy company. We could have made significant
progress in the DRC if it was not for the financial limitations of our Council.
So we believe that Councils such as ourselves supported by
private enterprise should pave the way towards reconciliation and negotiation in the DRC
to overcome the tensions existing between political leaders in the DRC and the divergent
alliances at inter state level in the Region.
D. UN AND OAU PARTICIPATION
It could be anticipated that should mediation and
reconciliation succeed as it must eventually there may remain pockets of
armed resistance which will have to be dealt with. One such element might be the
administrators and members of the security apparatus of the Mobutu regime.
These are mostly brilliant and very capable people
exploited by Mobutu to sustain and prolong his dictatorship. My Council will however be in
touch with these people also. A process of amnesty is inevitable to bring these capable
people home because the DRC will need all its capable human resources to restructure the
country once democratic rule has been established.
In order to deal with other trouble spots in the DRC and
to avert any interference in the reconciliation process in the DRC from across its borders
OAU and UN support will have to be called upon. And finally the OAU and the UN will be
required to carry the baby back into the cradle of the International community.
E. THE ROAD TO DEMOCRATIC RULE IN THE REGION:
Placing the DRC irreversibly on the road to democratic
rule will have profound influence on the Great Lakes Region. It is difficult to see that
success of the DRC could not be repeated in its neighboring states. My Council is
convinced that reconciliation and negotiation leading to a government of national unity,
an excellent democratic constitution and free and fair elections in the DRC is possible
and thereafter the conflict in the Great Lakes Region could be resolved step by step.