The Congo’s Transition Is Failing-Crisis in the Kivus

As it approaches the end of its second year, the Congo’s transition risks breaking apart on the unreconciled ambitions of the former civil war belligerents. Inability to resolve political differences in Kinshasa have been mirrored by new military tensions that the parties, as well as Rwanda, have stirred up in the Kivus, the birthplace of both wars that ravaged the country in the past decade. June 2005 national elections are imperilled, and 1,000 are dying daily in the ongoing political and humanitarian crisis. To reverse these ominous trends, the international community needs to use the leverage its aid gives it to rein in the spoilers in Kinshasa, and it needs to do a better, quicker job of training the new Congolese army. And the UN Mission (MONUC) needs to get tougher in dealing with the Rwandan insurgents, the FDLR, who provide Kigali with a justification for dangerous meddling.

Beginning in February 2004, dissidents from the former rebel movement Rassemblement Congolais pour la Démocratie-Goma (RCD-G) sparked clashes in the Kivu provinces of the eastern Congo. These were the result of disagreement within the transitional government over power-sharing in the army and the administration but the conflict was exacerbated by the interference of Rwanda, which sent troops across the border in November 2004, claiming to pursue the Hutu extremist FDLR. The resulting fighting displaced over 100,000 civilians and pushed the transition to the brink of collapse.