Congo: China Rules


: Democratic Republic of the Congo (formerly Zaire)

May 23, 2008: While fighting in North and South Kivu has diminished over the last few weeks, the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) has not disappeared. The FDLR still effectively controls a chunk of South Kivu province west of Bukavu. The FDLR also controls an area west of Masisi in North Kivu. The town of Sange (South Kivu, not far from Burundi) is also in an FDLR "area of influence." The FDLR is a Rwandan Hutu militia. Many of its members were part of the Rwandan Interahamwe Hutu movement, the key organization involved in the 1994 Tutsi genocide in Rwanda.

May 17, 2008: The major "resources for infrastructure" mining deal between the Congo and China is once again raising questions. A group of Congolese critics contend that the deal is simply not fair to the Congo. It is being called "economic imperialism." The revenue split between Congo and one of China's main mining concerns is 32 percent for the Congo, 68 percent for China. The Congolese government disputes the critics and says the overall deal is very good for the Congo. Congo will receive royalties as well as revenues, and China is committed to building roads. Which the Congo desperately needs. The Chinese are unpopular with many Congolese, because Chinese run many of the illegal mining operations.

May 10, 2008: What does it take to create a "sustainable peace" in the eastern Congo? A recent UN-directed study focused on the Ituri region of Equateur province (northeast Congo). Among the "peace tasks" identified were:

(1) Disarmament of militias and collection of weapons

(2) Restoration of state authority

(3) Resolving "land-related tensions"

(4) Return of refugees to their homes

(5) Distribution of "a fair share" of revenues from the sale of natural resources

(6) Resumption of economic activity

The "land tensions" item is particularly critical. Land disputes between ethnic groups fueled a lot of the fighting in Ituri (eg, between Hema and Lendu tribes).


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