Congo - east

Since 1996; conflict has centered around control of mineral resources in weakly-controlled eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, exacerbated by the FDLR rebel group mostly comprised of former soldiers of the Interahamwe in Rwanda. See summary

Recent articles: Much aid, little long-term impact in DRC 01/27 Failing to Deliver? 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Africa, Tanzania & Malawi Lack Will to Pursue Rebels? 01/12 Trinity Express Ltd to Launch Kigali-Dar Route 01/12 Rwanda: Tanzania Won't Attack Rwandan FDLR Rebels - Says Foreign Minister 01/12 SA Responds to Disarmament of Armed Group FDLR 01/12


After the Interahamwe in 1994, Hutu militia groups moved across the border from Rwanda into Kivu province of what was then Zaire. Zaire's ruler, the kleptomaniac strongman Mobutu Sese Seko, failed to prevent the militias from attacking across the border into Rwanda. Local rebel leader Laurent Kabila, backed by Rwandan troops and equipment, swept out of southeastern Zaire in 1997 and seized the country from Mobutu.

The newly renamed Democratic Republic of the Congo was not easy to govern. The Second Congo War erupted in 1998, involving troops from Rwanda, Uganda, Angola, Namibia and Zimbabwe. The vast mineral resources of the east of the country helped to fuel the conflict. In 2001 Laurent Kabila died, and his son Joseph Kabila took power. The war officially ended in 2002, and foreign troops left.

However, fighting continued among government factions and remaining militias. In 2004, Laurent Nkunda began another rebellion, claiming that the Tutsis of the region were being forsaken by the government soldiers. His rebel group was supported by Rwanda. This continued off and until 2008, when his army began a major offensive. International pressure on Rwanda grew, and Rwanda arrested Nkunda in early 2009.

Currently, the Hutu militias still operate in the area, although with greatly reduced numbers. Government soldiers are also frequently accused of crimes against civilians.