DRC Monthly Humanitarian Bulletin Jan - Feb 2000
January and the beginning of February 2000 brought about substantial evidence of staggeringly changing pattern of the DRC conflict. The reporting period was marked by unprecedented diplomatic activity over the settlement of the Congolese crisis, culminating with the UN Security Council’s Special session. The equilibrium of forces that had brought belligerents on equal terms to the Lusaka Agreement in summer 1999, does no longer prevail on the battlefield as it does not at the negotiation table. The successful January campaign on the northern front embodied a period of unexpected fortune for the Government, which also gained the exclusivity to represent the DRC at the UN Special Session, a prerogative lost six months earlier in Lusaka. Equally, Kinshasa’s retrieved popularity in the east is nourished by population’s overwhelming exasperation at foreign troops and the absence of peace dividends but also by a vocal, church-led non-violent resistance campaign. Furthermore, the concept of negative forces defined in the Lusaka Agreement is undergoing an evolution, whereby Mayi-Mayi warriors become the DRC army’s outpost in the Kivu, while ex-FAR and Interahamwe insurgents remain an element largely rejected by the society. In this environment of legitimised anger, outright stands are taken among segments of the Kivu civil society resorting to unequivocal threats against Rwandans and Congolese Tutsi communities. Meanwhile, the long-awaited inter-Congolese dialogue is taking shape with Mr. Ketsumile Masire’a arrival in Kinshasa (11 February) to initiate comprehensive consultations that would subsequently lead him to rebel-held eastern DRC.
A logic of war is reigning throughout the country where DRC authorities are mobilising youth in Government-held territory to replenish their armed forces, MLC is taking a defensive posture; RCD-Goma tries its best not to trigger havoc in managing civil disobedience campaigns in major towns and Uganda is one-sidedly handling the Hema-Lendu conflict that has led to a deadly cycle of violence.
In this tumultuous environment the announced UN Security Council resolution on the deployment of up to 5,500 peace-keepers is at best seen as preliminary phase. Meanwhile, the deployment of the UN military observers (MLO) is over and by mid-February 2000 some 90 MLOs have begun preparatory activities in nine locations of the DRC (Gbadolite, Kindu, Goma, Bunia, Boende, Lisala, Kananga, Gemena, Isiro and Kinshasa).
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