Source: L’Afrique des Grands Lacs Annuaire 2000-2001
par Stanislas Bucyalimwe Mararo
Abstract in English, Article in French:
The present study stems from three obvious facts. One: Northern Kivu is the only province in the DRC that suffered from an uninterrupted war in the last nine years (1993-2002). Two: the war itself is the result and/or the expression of «multilayered conflicts» although some outdo others in historical depth, scale and consequences. Three: the actors are always the same. What changed in the years of war is only the stakes involved and the strategies set up to cope with them. To review the nine-year events and scrutinize these changes in the light of today’s crisis in the country is our chief objective.
Between 1990 and 1992, localized clashes were recorded in some areas of the territories of Northern Kivu province: widespread incidents over the population census called «identification des nationaux» within Masisi, Hunde against Hutu in Bukumbiriri (Kibabi, Masisi), Tutsi against Hutu in Jomba (Bwisha, Rutshuru) and Kihondo (Bwito, Rutshuru) while the RPF was intensively involved in recruitment, training and military building up for its war in Rwanda beginning 1987/1988.The 1993 war was the next stage in the ongoing instability as the entire territory of Masisi, some parts of Walikale (Wanyanga chieftaincy) and Rutshuru (Bwito) were driven into bloody violences. Later developments brought, at each stage, new revelations, the last one being the assassination of Laurent-Désiré Kabila (Mobutu’s «breaker» and successor) in Kinshasa (january 2001) and the advent of an unknown young «warlord», Joseph Kabila, at the head of the country after a short and «controversial process».
As some observers early underlined, the post-1993 chaos of Masisi and Bwito (Rutshuru) territories was the big destabilizing factor of Northern Kivu Province. The study discusses this localized crisis and the extent to which the manipulation of provincial affairs from the capital gave to local ingredients (issue of citizenship, political and economic rivalries, struggle for the control of the transitional institutions) a national dimension. In addition, it shows how the October 1990-July 1994 war of the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) and the July 1994 – September/October 1996 Rwandan Hutu refugees’s crisis obscured the local stakes by putting, from the very beginning, the Masisi-Bwito territories and automatically Northern Kivu Province into the heart of both national and regional stakes.
The intermingling of local and external stakes was the potential for a big and wide crisis. Thus, the so-called «Masisi war» that began in March 1993 led, little by little, to what came to be called respectively the Eastern Zaïre crisis and the Zaïrian/Congolese crisis. In this whole process, one sees the collusion between local actors and outside interests (D.G. Becker’s concept of «transnational bourgeoisie») with the aim of keeping or taking power by force and serving the plundering of national resources. Today’s division of the DRC into different zones of influence by competing mining companies and armies is the last stage of this dangerous and disturbing course of events.
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