The Democratic Republic of Congo: Background and Current Developments

Prepared for Members and Committees of Congress

In October 2008, the forces of the National Congress for the Defense of the Congolese People
(CNDP), under the command of General Laurent Nkunda, launched a major offensive against the
Democratic Republic of Congo Armed Forces (FARDC) in eastern Congo. Within days, the
CNDP captured a number of small towns and Congolese forces retreated in large numbers.
Eastern Congo has been in a state of chaos for over a decade. The first rebellion to oust the late
President Mobutu Sese Seko began in the city of Goma in the mid-1990s. The second rebellion in
the late 1990s began also in eastern Congo. The root causes of the current crisis are the presence
of over a dozen militia and extremist groups, both foreign and Congolese, in eastern Congo, and
the failure to fully implement peace agreements signed by the parties. Over the past fourteen
years, the former Rwandese armed forces and the Interhamwe militia have been given a safe
haven in eastern Congo and have carried out many attacks inside Rwanda and against Congolese
civilians. A Ugandan rebel group, the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) is also in Congo, despite an
agreement reached between the LRA and the Government of Uganda.
In November 2008, United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon appointed former Nigerian
President Olusegun Obasanjo as his envoy to help broker a peace agreement to end the crisis in
eastern Congo. Since his appointment, Obasanjo has met with President Joseph Kabila, General
Nkunda, President Paul Kagame, and other officials in the region. The parties have agreed to
participate in a U.N.-led peace initiative. The governments of Rwanda and the Democratic
Republic of Congo (DRC) are also engaged in bilateral talks. In November, the Congolese and
Rwandan governments agreed to deploy Rwandan intelligence officers to help identify and end
the presence of negative forces in DRC.
The current crisis in eastern Congo has displaced more than 250,000 civilians. In recent weeks,
some civilians have begun to return home. Meanwhile, abuses against civilians by government
forces and militia groups continue. There is no reliable estimate of the number of people killed
since the current crisis erupted. In late November, CNDP forces withdrew from two fronts in
order to create humanitarian corridors.
The United States has been actively engaged in facilitating the Tripartite Plus talks among the
four key players in the Great Lakes region: Rwanda, DRC, Burundi, and Uganda. The Tripartite
Plus process has led to a number of agreements over the past several years, including the creation
of a Joint Verification Mechanism (JVM) to address cross-border issues. The Bush Administration
provided an estimated $105.5 million in FY2008, and has requested $95.5 million for FY2009. In
FY2008 and 2009 to date, the United States provided $156.7 million in humanitarian assistance to
This report will be updated as circumstances warrant.

Recent Developments......................................................................................................................1
The Role of MONUC in the Current Crisis..............................................................................2
The Failure of the Congolese Army..........................................................................................2
Root Causes...............................................................................................................................2
Background: The Crisis in DRC......................................................................................................3
MONUC: Overview........................................................................................................................4
MONUC Status of Forces and Mandate....................................................................................4
MONUC: Human Rights Concerns...........................................................................................5
Political Developments....................................................................................................................5
U.S. Assistance to DRC...................................................................................................................7
Human Rights Conditions...............................................................................................................7
Economic Conditions......................................................................................................................8
Regional Issues: Background and Recent Agreements...................................................................9
Figure 1. Congo.............................................................................................................................10
Author Contact Information..........................................................................................................10

In October 2008, the forces of the National Congress for the Defense of the Congolese People
(CNDP), under the command of General Laurent Nkunda, launched a major offensive against the
Democratic Republic of Congo Armed Forces (FARDC) in eastern Congo. Within days, the
CNDP captured a number of small towns, and Congolese forces retreated in large numbers. The
U.N. Mission in Congo (MONUC) also withdrew from some areas and pulled most of its forces
into Goma. In late October, General Nkunda declared a unilateral cease-fire and ordered his
forces to remain outside Goma. The cease-fire has been violated in recent weeks by both sides,
although fighting has not spread to other parts of Congo. On November 19, 2008, the CNDP
withdrew from two areas in eastern Congo in order to create humanitarian corridors.
The DRC government initially accused Rwanda of supporting General Nkunda, although a few
days later in a meeting in Rwanda, Congolese officials did not bring this issue up with senior
Rwandese officials. Rwanda has consistently argued that its forces, while deployed along the
Rwanda-DRC border, have not crossed into Congolese territory, a position supported by U.S. and 1
United Nations officials. Congolese officials, however, argue that Rwandese soldiers were 2
captured inside Congo. Congolese officials have provided photographs of alleged Rwandan
soldiers to foreign governments in November 2008. In late October, at the height of the crisis, the
Congolese Foreign Minister Alexis Thambwe Mwamba paid a visit to Kigali and met with
President Paul Kagame and other Rwandese leaders. At that meeting, the minister did not raise 3
the issue of Rwanda’s alleged involvement in support of Nkunda. A few days later, the Rwandese
Foreign Minister, Rosemary K. Museminari, visited Kinshasa and met with Congolese officials as
well as other foreign leaders.
In recent weeks, a number of foreign officials visited the Great Lakes region in an effort to find a
peaceful solution to the crisis in eastern Congo. U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for African
Affairs Jendayi Frazer met with the leadership of Congo and Rwanda in November. The foreign
ministers of France and Britain visited Congo in early November in an effort to broker a peace
agreement. United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon went to Kenya in early November to
take part in a regional summit on the crisis in eastern Congo. Several heads of state participated in
the Kenya meeting, including President Kabila and Rwandan President Paul Kagame. General
Nkunda was not invited to participate in the Kenyan meeting. The meeting in Kenya did not
secure an agreement.
In November 2008, Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon appointed former Nigerian President
Olusegun Obasanjo as his envoy to help broker a peace agreement to end the crisis in eastern
Congo. The appointment of Obasanjo was welcomed by regional leaders. President Kagame told
reporters that Obasanjo is the “right person” to help secure a peace agreement to resolve the crisis
in eastern Congo. Since his appointment, Obasanjo has met with President Kabila, General
Nkunda, President Kagame, and other officials in the region. He secured an agreement from
President Kabila and General Nkunda to take part in U.N.-led peace talks. President Kabila had
previously rejected direct talks with Nkunda.

1 CRS interview with MONUC, Rwandese, and U.S. officials in August and November 2008.
2 CRS interview with Congolese ambassador to the United States, November 19, 2008.
3 CRS interview in late October 2008 with a senior Rwandese official in Kigali by phone.

The United Nations has been actively engaged in mediation efforts, although MONUC has come 4
under criticism for failing to carry out its mandate to protect civilians. Congolese sources and
foreign observers have reported that MONUC forces did not provide sufficient protection to
civilians who have been the primary target of government forces and militia groups. MONUC has
a robust U.N. Security Council-authorized mandate to protect civilians under eminent physical
threat. United Nations officials argue that MONUC has done what it could under difficult
circumstances and that Congo is a large territory to effectively manage. These officials contend
that it is the primary responsibility of the Kabila government to protect its citizens, of which over

250,000 have been displaced as a result of the recent military clashes in eastern Congo.

According to United Nations officials, abuses by government forces and militia groups have been
carried out against civilians. There is no reliable estimate of the number of people killed since the
current crisis erupted.
The Congolese army has not been able to contain rebel force advances or provide protection to
the civilian population. At the height of the crisis, the Congolese army simply retreated and later
engaged in looting and attacking civilians, according to United Nations officials and press
reports. United Nations officials and longtime Congo observers argue that the Congolese army
was ignored and abandoned by the central government in Kinshasa. According to U.N. and
Congolese officials, the central government often failed to provide necessary support or pay the
salary of the Congolese army in eastern Congo. Moreover, the military leadership is weak,
according to many observers in the region. The fact that the Congolese army did not exist in its
current structure until recently also contributed to the problem within the armed forces in recent
years. A number of the units in the Congolese army are forces integrated from rebel forces. In
November 2008, President Kabila ousted his military chief of staff and named General Didier
Etumba Longomba as his new military chief. Donor governments have provided funding to train
Congolese forces and local police. MONUC has also provided support and protection to
Congolese forces over the years. General Nkunda has criticized MONUC’s cooperation with the
Congolese forces on a number of occasions.
At the core of the crisis in eastern Congo is the presence of over a dozen militia and extremist
groups, both foreign and Congolese, and the failure to fully implement peace agreements signed
by the parties. Over the past 14 years, the former Rwandese armed forces and the Interhamwe
have been given a safe haven in eastern Congo and have carried out many attacks inside Rwanda
and against Congolese civilians. These well-armed forces are now known as the Democratic
Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR). Analysts estimate their number between 6,000 and
8,000, and now led by the most extremist leaders of the FDLR. The FDLR reportedly receives
assistance from Congolese forces and often coordinates military operations with the Congolese
army, according to United Nations and Rwandan officials.

4 Tom Maliti, “African Leaders Chide Peacekeepers,” Chicago Tribune, November 9, 2008.

The FDLR also receives assistance and guidance from Rwandese in Europe and the United
States. The Government of Rwanda submitted a list of FDLR, Interhamwe and other militia
leaders in early 2008 to U.S. and other government officials. On November 4, 2008, German
authorities released the Secretary General of the FDLR, Callixte Mbarushimana, who was
arrested in Frankfurt in July 2008. The State Department criticized the release of the FDLR 5
official and blamed the group as the “root cause of instability in eastern Congo.” A week after
the release of the FDLR official, German authorities arrested a senior Rwandese government
official, Rose Kibuye. Rose Kibuye is a senior Rwandan government official, a liberation fighter
with the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF), the group that ended the 1994 genocide, and served in
different government positions over the past decade, including as Mayor of Kigali and Personal
Secretary of President Kagame. The Government of Rwanda condemned her arrest and later
expelled the German ambassador to Rwanda. German authorities did not detain Kabuye in April

2008 when she traveled with President Kagame to Germany because of diplomatic immunity.

Rwandan officials contend that Kibuye went to Germany as an advance team member to prepare
for President Kagame’s visit to Germany. She traveled on her diplomatic passport and the
Germany embassy in Rwanda was informed about the purpose of her visit to Germany. On
November 19, Kibuye was transferred to France to stand trial.
In addition to the FDLR and other negative forces in DRC, the forces and leadership of the Lord’s
Resistance Movement (LRA), a Ugandan rebel movement, are also in DRC, even though the
LRA agreed to a peace agreement mediated by the Government of South Sudan. Moreover, there
are over a dozen militia groups active in eastern Congo, some of which support and coordinate
their actions with the Congolese government.

The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), formerly Zaire, has been in political turmoil for
years. In May 1997, the Alliance of the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Congo-Zaire
(AFDL), with the support of Rwanda and Uganda, marched into Kinshasa and ousted longtime
dictator Mobutu Sese Seko. Within one year, tensions between President Laurent Kabila and his
Rwandan and Ugandan allies began to mount. By August 1998, open conflict erupted between
Kabila and Congolese forces supported by Rwanda. Angola, Namibia, and Zimbabwe joined the
fighting in support of Kabila.
DRC at a Glance
• Population: 66.5 million
• Independence: 1960 from Belgium
• Area: Slightly less than one-fourth the size of the United States
• Ethnicity: Over 200 ethnic groups, majority Bantu
• Religions: 50% Catholic, 20% Protestant, 10% Kimbanguist (Syncretic), 10%
Muslim, 10% other/indigenous
• Languages: French (official)

5 State Department Press Release, November 13, 2008.

• GDP (purchasing power parity): $18.8 billion
• GDP per capita: $300 (2006)
CIA World Factbook, 2008
In July 1999, at a summit in Lusaka, Zambia, the leaders of Uganda, Rwanda, Congo, Zimbabwe,
Namibia, and Angola signed a peace agreement. The agreement called for a cease-fire within 24
hours of the signing of the agreement. Nonetheless, both sides to the conflict consistently violated
the cease-fire agreement. The Lusaka Accords established a joint military commission (JMC) to
investigate cease-fire violations and to disarm militia groups. The withdrawal of foreign forces
from Congo was one of the key elements of the Lusaka Accords. The Accords also called for
political dialogue among Congolese political and armed groups to settle their differences
peacefully and to map out a new political chapter for Congo. The former President of Botswana,
Sir Ketumile Masire, was appointed to facilitate the talks. The Accords called for the deployment
of U.N. military observers.

In August 1999, the United Nations Security Council authorized the deployment of 90 United
Nations military liaison personnel to the DRC. In November 1999, Security Council Resolution
1279 affirmed that the previously authorized United Nations personnel would constitute the
United Nations Organization Mission in the DRC (MONUC). The operation is authorized under
Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter, which allows peacekeepers to use force, if necessary,
to carry out their mandate. As of September 2008, MONUC had 18,434 total uniformed
personnel, including 16,667 troops, 702 military observers, 1,065 police, 937 international 6
civilian personnel, 2,168 local civilian staff and 552 United Nations Volunteers. MONUC is
currently the largest U.N. peacekeeping operation in the world. In late November, the United
Nations agreed to send an additional 3,000 peacekeeping troops to DRC.
Over the past eight years, the Security Council passed a number of resolutions to strengthen
MONUC’s force and its mandate. Resolution 1291, passed in 2000, authorized MONUC to carry
out a number of important tasks, including implementation of the cease-fire agreement,
verification of disengagement and redeployment of forces, and support humanitarian work and
human rights monitoring. The resolution provided MONUC the mandate, under Chapter VII, to
protect its personnel, facilities, and civilians under eminent threat of physical violence.
Resolution 1565, adopted in 2004, increased MONUC personnel, with a primary objective of
MONUC deployment to eastern Congo to ensure civilian protection, seize or collect arms, as
called for in U.N. resolution 1493. The resolution also authorized MONUC to temporarily
provide protection to the National Unity Government institutions and government officials.
Resolution 1493, authorized MONUC to assist the DRC government to disarm foreign

6 MONUC Mission website available at

combatants and repatriate to their home country. The resolution, under Chapter VII, authorized 7
MONUC to use “all means necessary” to carry out its mandate.
MONUC’s record has been marred by persistent allegations that it has not been able to halt gross
human rights violations of civilians by local groups in the Ituri and Kivu regions and charges of
incompetence since its deployment in 1999. In late February 2005, nine Bangladeshi
peacekeepers were killed by militia members in the Ituri region. Then-U.N. Secretary General
Kofi Annan condemned the killings and called on the then- Transitional Government to “hold
accountable those responsible for this reprehensible and criminal attack.” The United Nations has
increased the number of troops to help bring stability and security, especially in the Kivus and
Ituri regions.
MONUC also was the focus of allegations of sexual exploitation and abuse of women and
children. In December 2004, in his report to the Security Council, then-Secretary General Annan
stated that “between June and September 2004, an Office of Internal Oversight Services
investigation into sexual misconduct in Bunia revealed that 8 of some 72 allegations could be
corroborated.” The report revealed that the majority of these allegations involved “soliciting the
services of prostitutes.” This kind of behavior by U.N. peacekeeping troops, the report contends,
is a violation of the United Nations “Code of Conduct” for peacekeeping troops.
In November 2004, a team from the United Nations Department of Peacekeeping Operations was
sent to investigate allegations of sexual exploitation by several United Nations civilian personnel
in other parts of DRC. Another U.N. team was sent to DRC to investigate allegations against
MONUC personnel. In January 2005, a report by the United Nations Office of Internal Oversight
Services (OIOS) issued its findings about sexual exploitation and abuse by MONUC personnel in
DRC. The OIOS made a number of recommendations, which it claimed have been accepted by
the United Nations Department of Peacekeeping Operations. Still, between January and
September 2008, 23 sexual exploitation and abuse allegations were made against MONUC

Some progress has been made over the past several years in moving the DRC from political
instability and civil war to relative stability and democratic rule, although Eastern Congo remains
a region marred by civil strife. The international community has been actively engaged in support
of the transitional process and the elections. On July 30, 2006, the DRC held its first presidential
and parliamentary multi-party elections in almost four decades. Regional, local, and international
observers monitored the elections. More than 19 million Congolese were registered to vote in the

2006 elections, including 2.9 million in Kinshasa, the capital.

In the presidential elections, there were 33 presidential candidates, while an estimated 9,707
candidates ran for the 500-seat parliament. There were an estimated 50,000 polling stations for
the 25.6 million registered eligible voters. According to Congolese and international observers,


the elections were largely peaceful and well managed, considering the logistical and other 8
challenges, although post-election conditions were not properly managed in some areas. In
parliament, no party emerged with a majority, while none of the candidates in the presidential
elections secured the necessary 50% of the vote. In October 2006, President Joseph Kabila
defeated Jean-Pierre Bemba in the second round of presidential elections. On December 6, 2006,
President Kabila was sworn in as president.
The DRC faces serious challenges, despite progress in some areas and relative stability in most
regions of the country. Relations between the DRC and its neighbors have improved over the past
two years, largely due to facilitation by the United States of the Tripartite Plus process, a policy
initiative aimed at regional stability and cooperation. The four key regional participants in the
process are DRC, Uganda, Rwanda, and Burundi. Despite progress in regional security, insecurity
in parts of the DRC, especially in the east of the country, continues to pose a serious threat to
political stability in the Great Lakes region. Relations between DRC and Burundi are warm.
Uganda is expected to upgrade its diplomatic presence to ambassadorial level soon, according to
Congolese officials.
The presence of armed groups in parts of Congo is a major source of instability. The Special
Representative of the Secretary General of the U.N. stated that, while there are many challenges
facing Congo, conditions have improved in some parts of eastern Congo since the handover of
two militia leaders to the International Criminal Court (ICC) for trial. In October 2007, the DRC
government transferred former Ituri militia leader, Germain Katanga, to the ICC in the Hague. In
February 2008, Congolese authorities arrested and later transfer to ICC custody Mathieu
Ngudjolo Chui, former chief of staff of the Front for National Integration (FNI). In March 2006,
Thomas Lubanga Dyilo, the leader of the Union of the Congolese Patriots (UPC), was handed
over to the ICC. In July 2008, U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon stated that “the creation of a
professional, capable and accountable FARDC remains a critically important goal for establishing 9
security, stability and legitimate State authority in the eastern DRC.”
The presence of the Lord’s Resistance Army militia, a Ugandan rebel force, in the Garamba
National Park in eastern Congo, has been a source of tension between Uganda and DRC over the
past several years. In September 2007, Uganda and DRC signed an agreement in Arusha,
Tanzania to cooperate on a wide range of issues, including removing the LRA from eastern
Congo. In October 2007, the third high ranking LRA official, Opio Makasi, surrendered to
MONUC and was later transferred to Congolese authorities. In November 2007, Congolese and
MONUC officials handed over Makasi to Ugandan authorities. Ugandan authorities reportedly
provided amnesty to Makasi. President Kabila has stated on a number of occasions that his 10
government will force the LRA out of DRC.
In March 2007, the Congolese army and Bemba’s militia clashed in Kinshasa, forcing Bemba to
flee to the South African embassy. In April, Bemba was allowed to leave for Portugal with his
family. Bemba’s departure may have resolved the crisis in the short term, although his supporters
and militia could become a source of instability. Bemba demanded that he be allowed to return to
Congo in order to participate in the political process where his party controls 20 percent of the
seats in the National Assembly. Bemba saw his forced exile as a sign that Congo might be

8 Ted Dagne met with a number of Congolese officials and election observers in DRC in 2006.
9 Secretary General report to the Security Council, July 2008. S2008/433.
10 CRS interview with President Kabila in 2006 and 2007 in Washington and DRC.

returning to a one man rule.11 In May 2008, Bemba was arrested in Belgium for alleged war
crimes committed by his group in the Central African Republic and was handed over to the ICC.

One of the major objectives of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) program
in the DRC is to support the country’s transition to democracy and to strengthen its healthcare and
education systems. Special attention is being paid to the HIV/AIDS epidemic, with $4 million of
funding designated to AIDS treatment and prevention programs. In FY2007, Economic Support
Funds (ESF) were targeted on strengthening the Judiciary, the National Assembly, and other
political institutions. International Military Education and Training (IMET) funds are intended to
focus on training Congolese officers on military justice, human rights and joint operations. The
United States also provides significant humanitarian assistance to DRC. In FY2007, the United
States provided $114.3 million, and the DRC is expected to receive $105.5 million in FY2008.
The Bush Administration has requested $95.5 million for FY2009. In addition, the United States 12
provided $9.1 million in Section 1207 assistance in support of peace efforts and local
governments in eastern Congo. In fiscal years 2008 and 2009 to date, the United States provided 13
$156.7 million in humanitarian assistance to DRC.

Human rights abuses continued to plague the DRC despite movement toward democratic rule and
an end to the civil war. Government security forces and armed rebel groups committed serious
abuses against civilians. Security forces were responsible for the arbitrary arrest, abduction, and
torture of civilians despite the country’s law prohibiting torture, according to human rights groups
and the State Department’s Country Reports on Human Rights Practices. According to the State
Department’s 2007 report, “in all areas of the country, the human rights record remained poor,
and numerous serious abuses were committed. Unlawful killings, disappearances, torture, rape,
and arbitrary arrest and detention by security forces increased during the year, and the transitional 14
government took few actions to punish violators.”
There were no confirmed reports that abductions were politically motivated, although some of the
abductees were journalists. Government security forces also raped civilians, according to the
same report. On a positive note, professionalism among police forces appears to be increasing,
while government security forces, however, remained corrupt and ineffective. Prison conditions
remained inadequate due to overcrowding and lack of funds. The judicial system remained
ineffective and highly corrupt, and civil courts are rarely used by the public. According to the
State Department’s annual report, the government restricted freedom of speech, although
Congolese law provides these rights. Security forces were responsible for arresting, detaining,
and harassing individuals for criticizing the president and the transitional government. On a

11 CRS interview of Bemba, August and October 2007.
12 For more information about Section 1207 programs, see CRS report by Nina Serafino, “Department of Defense
Section 1207: Security and Stabilization Assistance: A Fact Sheet,” May 7, 2008.

number of occasions, radio and television stations were temporarily closed for violating a media
code of conduct.
As the internal conflict in the east continued, according to reports, security forces and rebel
groups killed, abducted, tortured, and raped civilians in addition to burning or destroying their
homes and villages. Mass rape and sexual violence were used as weapons of war, and FARDC
soldiers committed sexual violence against young girls, especially in eastern Congo. Gang rapes
also occurred and were frequently committed in front of the victims’ families. The trafficking of
women and children also remained common in the east. Humanitarian aid workers and NGOs
reported being threatened and harassed by armed groups, especially in eastern DRC. The
transitional government did not provide adequate protection or assistance to Internally Displaced
Persons (IDPs), and armed groups restricted humanitarian access to IDPs, preventing the delivery
of supplies, according to the State Department’s human rights report.
In Katanga province, Mai Mai militia groups continued to abuse civilians. On May 12, 2006, a
Mai Mai militia leader, Kyungu Mutanga Gedeon, surrendered to MONUC forces, with 150 rebel
fighters. The Kabila government reportedly offered to integrate Mutanga’s forces into the regular
armed forces. Gedeon and his forces are accused of serious atrocities against civilians. According
to the State Department’s annual report, “militias in the Ituri District of Orientale Province,
notably the Front for National Integration (FNI), the Congolese Revolutionary Movement
(MRC), and the Front for Patriotic Resistance in Ituri (FPRI) continued to commit abuses against 15
civilians, including killings, abductions, rapes, and child soldier recruitment.”

Large sums have been invested in the DRC’s transition process by both bilateral and multilateral
donors. The World Bank has, as of October 2008, 14 active projects in DRC, totaling $2.2 billion.
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) is requiring the DRC to implement reforms in
macroeconomic stability before it will begin negotiations for a poverty reduction and growth
facility program. A tight fiscal policy will be necessary for the DRC to improve economic
conditions. The DRC’s fiscal policy is primarily concerned with increasing domestic revenue and
shifting state expenditures toward infrastructure and the social sectors. A tighter fiscal policy is
expected in 2008, with expenditures falling to approximately 19% of GDP. Tight fiscal policy
should also stabilize and potentially improve inflation rates. The Central Bank of the DRC
appears committed to maintaining price stability and tight control of the country’s money supply,
according to the most recent Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) report. Real GDP growth is
expected at 6% in 2008-2009, according to the EIU.
Although agriculture is the dominant sector of the economy (accounting for approximately half of
GDP and employing 75% of the labor force), development and productivity rates are nearly
impossible to gauge due to a lack of reliable statistics. The mining sector is likely to be the
country’s primary vehicle for growth as foreign direct investment increases. Mining output should
also increase the DRC’s export earnings and should compensate for falling commodity prices in
the international market. Financing the country’s external debt was projected to cost nearly $600
million in 2007, which underscores the need for debt relief under the IMF-World Bank’s HIPC
(heavily indebted poor countries) initiative and the multilateral debt relief initiative. The Kabila


government’s budget expenditure plans are very cautious and somewhat vague, a fact government
officials attribute to the need for pragmatism to address DRC’s large external debt. In recent
years, China has expanded its trade and economic activities with DRC. In 2008, China signed a
major mining and construction agreement with the DRC government. The mining agreement is a
source of contention in Congo, and General Nkunda has been critical of the agreement in recent

The 2002 Pretoria Agreement between Rwanda and DRC led to significant improvement in
border security in the Great Lakes region. The agreement called for a cessation of hostilities, an
inter-Congolese dialogue, withdrawal of foreign forces, and disarmament of the “negative
forces”. The parties have implemented all of these agreements and a number of the armed groups
have been demobilized. On September 22, 2004, the governments of DRC and Rwanda signed
the terms of reference for a Joint Verification Mechanism (JVM), an agreement designed to
address cross-border issues, specifically to deal with the threats of the Interhamwe and ex-FAR
(former Rwandese Armed Forces), groups responsible for the 1994 genocide in Rwanda.
The Mechanism consists of a Joint Verification Team of experts from the parties, representatives
from MONUC and the African Union. In October 2004, the group had its first meeting, and in
late November the parties adopted operational procedures for the Joint Verification Teams. In
addition, the United States has been facilitating Tripartite Plus talks among the three key regional
players: DRC, Rwanda, Uganda, and Burundi. The parties agreed that the most serious threat to
regional stability is the presence of the negative forces in DRC. In order to deal with this threat,
the parties established a Tripartite Joint Commission and agreed to disarm, demobilize, and
repatriate foreign armed groups.
The governments of Rwanda and DRC cooperate on a wide range of issues, including on security
matters. Rwanda helped facilitate dialogue between the Kabila government and some political
groups in DRC on issues related to the 2006 elections. Moreover, Rwanda agreed to help find a
political solution with General Nkunda, as requested by President Kabila. But the process did not
go far because the Kabila government launched a campaign against General Nkunda. Kagame
stated in August that he remains very concerned about the activities of the remnants of the
Interhamwe and FDLR forces. He asserted that these forces are currently reorganizing in eastern 16
In November 2007, the governments of the DRC and Rwanda signed an agreement in Kenya “on
a common approach to end the threat posed to peace and stability” in the Great Lakes region. The
parties agreed to end political and material support to armed groups in the region. The
government of the DRC agreed to disarm the ex-FAR and Interhamwe militia and to hand over
those individuals wanted by the government of Rwanda and International Criminal Tribunal for
Rwanda (ICTR). According to the agreement, those who do not wish to return to Rwanda will be
placed in a camp away from the border until a solution is found. In January 2007, several dozen
rebel groups and the DRC government signed the Goma Accord, primarily focused on ending the

16 Ted Dagnes interview with President Kagame, August 2007.

violence in Eastern Congo. Since the signing of the agreement, while progress has been made,
there have been a number of reports of ceasefire violations and sexual violence against civilians.
Figure 1. Congo

Source: CRS
Ted Dagne
Specialist in African Affairs, 7-7646