Wednesday, November 26, 2008
clipped from: www.prospect-magazine.co.uk
Those who try to explain the current fighting in terms of tribal differences, between the Tutsi-associated Banyamulenge of eastern Congo and some Hutu-linked groups, are missing the point. Yes, the spillover from the Rwandan genocide of 1994 affected this region. But, in a state as failed as the Congo, relatively small tribal frictions can be turned into a national crises. And the current crisis needs to be understood, as it was in King Leopold's day, as a battle over Congo's rich natural resources.
These resentments have been exacerbated by jealousies over vast contracts recently signed between China and the government of President Joseph Kabila. Anger has focused on the likelihood of Kabila and his inner circle, from his base in the southern province of Katanga, skimming off vast sums from these opaque deals.
Details of the contracts, and lucrative bribes and backhanders, are scant. But the scale became clear when, two years ago, China promised Congo $5bn in exchange for rights to much of its copper, cobalt, tin and other minerals.
It has also inspired the Tutsi-influenced rebels of the Kivus, led by General Laurent Nkunda, whose insurgency is designed to force Kabila to share the spoils.
The fact that Rwanda supplies weapons, ammunition, manpower and communications to Nkundu’s rebels is one of Africa’s worst kept secrets.
Posted by Jesus Reyes at 11:25 PM