Congo: Consolidating the Peace

Posted in Africa | 08-Jul-07 | Source: International Crisis Group

President of the Democratic Republic of Congo Joseph Kabila

Kinshasa/Brussels, 5 July 2007: An unimpressive first half-year of Congo’s elected government has left the peace process in danger, especially in the volatile East, and democracy fragile.

Congo: Consolidating the Peace,* the latest report from the International Crisis Group, examines President Joseph Kabila’s new government and warns that the real gains that have been made are at serious risk. While the transition helped unify the divided country and improved security in much of it, governing institutions remain weak, abusive or non-existent, and the national army is still the country’s worst human rights abuser while another crisis is looming in the East.

“Despite Kabila’s strong mandate, the last months have seen the rapid paralysis of the state machinery, increased authoritarian tendencies and no decisive progress in the restoration of peace in the Kivus”, says David Mugnier, Crisis Group’s Central Africa Project Director. “Kabila and Prime Minister Antoine Gizenga need to acknowledge the shortcomings of the last months and make a fresh start by promoting a culture of dialogue and accountability and strengthening cooperation with the UN mission (MONUC) and the wider international community”.

The Government must make good on promises to respect opposition rights and stop using repressive violence in the West, which strongly supported the opposition in the election. Jean-Pierre Bemba, the runner-up in that election, must have his security guaranteed so he can return promptly from the exile into which he was driven after the government used excessive force to disarm his guard in the capital in March. Parliament, courts and media must be free to serve as checks against a worrying authoritarian drift.

A comprehensive peace initiative for the Kivus, emphasising diplomacy and dialogue, is also urgently needed. Much remains to be done to turn the army and police into competent, confidence-inspiring forces that can provide stability and tackle lawlessness, especially in the militia-dominated East.

In order to avoid tensions during implementation of the decentralisation program and preparation of local elections, the permanent consultation process between the central government and the provinces must be strengthened. To improve the management of natural resources and aid economic recovery, the findings and recommendations of the mining contracts review must be made public and illegal contracts cancelled.

Donors must stay engaged and condition their aid on acceptance of a political framework in which the security and governance challenges can be addressed jointly. They should press for a comprehensive peace initiative in the East and increased cooperation with MONUC, especially in the Kivus, where renewed war threatens.

“If the new government does not live up its own promises to build a different Congo, it is likely to continue being perceived more as a nuisance than a legitimate authority”, says François Grignon, Crisis Group’s Africa Program Director. “Without clear signs of improvement before year’s end, donor support will start shifting to other post-conflict theatres, and Congo could lose the peace-building gains of the past five years”.

To find out more, visit our Conflict in the Congo page, which has links to Crisis Group’s reports and opinion pieces on the conflict, details of our advocacy efforts to date, links to other resources, and information on what you can do to support Crisis Group’s efforts.

Contacts: Andrew Stroehlein (Brussels) 32 (0) 2 541 1635
Kimberly Abbott (Washington) 1 202 785 1601

To contact Crisis Group media please click here
*Read the full Crisis Group report on our website:

The International Crisis Group (Crisis Group) is an independent, non-profit, non-governmental organisation covering over 50 crisis-affected countries and territories across four continents, working through field-based analysis and high-level advocacy to prevent and resolve deadly conflict.