United States Secretary of State, Mrs Hillary Clinton has met with DR Congo’s President, Mr. Joseph Kabila in the eastern town of Goma, to resolve human rights atrocities, mass rapes, and rebel insurgency. An estimated 600 civilians have been killed, 800,000 forced from their homes and thousands of women and girls raped by rebels and government forces, between January and August, 2009.
According to the US, stability in DR Congo could have a positive impact on Africa, since the country’s conflicts have often spilled over to eight neighboring nations. The five-year conflict pitted government forces, supported by Angola, Namibia and Zimbabwe, against rebels backed by Uganda and Rwanda. Despite a peace deal and the formation of a transitional government in 2003, the threat of civil war has re-emerged in the east of the country.
While Ms. Clinton has promised to resolve Congo’s human rights issue with President Kabilla, she yesterday, called on Congolese youths to begin a new chapter in Congo’s history. “You are the ones who have to speak out. Speak out to end the corruption, the violence, the conflict that for too long have eroded the opportunities across this country,” Ms. Clinton was quoted as saying.
Since April last year, violence in the country’s mineral-rich east last year, raised fears of a return to civil war, and the fears were made worse when an offensive was launched by Congolese troops with support from the United Nations peacekeeping force earlier this year. However Congolese students must take action against the authorities of DR Congo and demand an end to the insurrection led by rebels linked to Rwanda and Uganda that has wrecked the country and claimed more than four million lives since 1998, Ms. Hillary Clinton who is on a seven-nation African tour, has urged.
Details of Ms. Clinton’s discussion with the Congolese President are yet to be released, but reports claim that much is expected of it.
The history of DR Congo has been written by civil war and corruption. After independence in 1960, the country immediately faced an army mutiny and an attempt at secession by its mineral-rich province of Katanga. The 1998 Second Congo War that has lingered on until now has an economic as well as a political face. Fighting was fueled by the country’s vast mineral wealth, with all sides taking advantage of the anarchy to plunder natural resources.