Storm Clouds Over Sun City: The Urgent Need To Recast The Congolese Peace Process
Storm Clouds Over Sun City: The Urgent Need To Recast The Congolese Peace Process
Table of Contents
  1. Executive Summary
End of Season Special: Ethiopia, Kenya-DRC and the Drought
End of Season Special: Ethiopia, Kenya-DRC and the Drought
Report 44 / Africa

Storm Clouds Over Sun City: The Urgent Need To Recast The Congolese Peace Process

After seven weeks of negotiations at Sun City, a partial agreement was reached on 19 April 2002 between Jean-Pierre Bemba’s MLC (Mouvement pour la libération du Congo) and the government of Joseph Kabila.

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Executive Summary

After seven weeks of negotiations at Sun City, a partial agreement was reached on 19 April 2002 between Jean-Pierre Bemba’s MLC (Mouvement pour la libération du Congo) and the government  of Joseph Kabila. The agreement represents  the end of the Inter-Congolese Dialogue in the context of the Lusaka peace accords. However confusion reigns. The negotiations are not complete and the future of the Democratic Republic of Congo remains uncertain.

The accord, struck by the majority of delegates from unarmed opposition groups and civil society, and approved by Angola, Uganda and Zimbabwe, is the beginning of a political realignment in the DRC conflict. Most notably it heralds the end of the anti-Kabila coalition and confirms the isolation of the RCD (Rassemblement congolais pour la Démocratie) and its ally Rwanda. The Kabila government and the MLC actually concluded the accord by default, due to the intransigence of the RCD on the question of power sharing in  Kinshasa, and, in the background, the failed negotiations between the governments of the DRC and Rwanda over the disarmament of the Hutu rebels known as ALiR (Armée pour la libération  du Rwanda). This accord transformed the discussions between the Lusaka signatories into a bilateral negotiation with a Kabila-Bemba axis backed by the international community on one  side, and a politically weak RCD, backed by a militarily strong Rwanda on the other.

The new partners announced that they would  install a transition government in Kinshasa on 15 June, declared the Lusaka accords ‘dead’ but committed  themselves  to  continuing negotiations with the RCD and Rwanda. The RCD, its cohesion and existence threatened, tried to break its isolation by forming an alliance with the UDPS (Union pour la démocratie et le progrès social) of Etienne Tshisekedi, and is talking up threats of renewed hostilities and partition of the country.

It is highly desirable that negotiations with the RCD be finalised before the transition government is installed. President Mbeki of South Africa, as next president of the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) and of the African Union (AU), should become joint leader of the process,  on condition that he receives a clear mandate from the parties to the dialogue and from the regional countries that have given their support to the Kabila-Bemba partnership, i.e. Angola and  Uganda. The neutrality of South Africa has indeed been questioned by the Congolese who were stung by its apparent support for the RCD at Sun City.

The Sun City talks may also mark the beginning of a real regional discussion on the security and economic issues at the heart of the Congolese conflict. In particular, the issue of Rwanda’s security is finally on the table – the disarmament of the Rwanda Hutu militias based in the DRC – as well as the issue of the Congo’s security – the withdrawal of the RPA (Rwandan Patriotic Army) from the DRC itself. These are both part of the Lusaka accords. It is also time to discuss the long- term security of the region, especially the reconstruction of the Congolese state, and the  rights and responsibilities of that state.

As soon as a political accord on power sharing is reached, the indispensable coordination of all these different dimensions of the peace process should be assured by the appointment of a high-profile Special Envoy of the United Nations’ Secretary- General. The mandate of the Special Envoy should be to supervise the implementation of an inclusive agreement on political transition; to coordinate UN activities on DDRRR (disarmament, demobilisation, repatriation, reintegration, and resettlement of armed groups); to ensure cooperation between the various UN institutions involved in the Rwandan and Congolese peace processes (ICTR, MONUC, the expert panel on the illegal exploitation of natural resources in the DRC); and to prepare the agenda for a regional conference on security and sustainable development in the Great Lakes.

Brussels/Nairobi, 14 May 2002

Podcast / Africa

End of Season Special: Ethiopia, Kenya-DRC and the Drought

In a three-part special episode of The Horn, Alan speaks to three Crisis Group experts across the Horn of Africa and Great Lakes regions. He talks with William Davison about the prospects for peace talks in Ethiopia, to Nelleke van de Walle about Kenya’s new diplomatic efforts in the eastern DR Congo, and to Nazanine Moshiri about the drought devastating the Horn region.

To mark the end of Season Three of The Horn, Alan discusses a few major developments in the region with Crisis Group experts. First up, he speaks to William Davison, Senior Analyst for Ethiopia, to discuss the prospect for possible peace talks in Ethiopia after the humanitarian ceasefire declared in March between federal and Tigrayan forces. They discuss the recent welcome steps towards peace talks, the remaining hurdles towards holding such negotiations and the major obstacles that any peace talks will need to overcome. They also discuss Ethiopia’s deteriorating economic situation and the ongoing insurgency in the Oromia region.

Next, Alan speaks with Nelleke van de Walle, Project Director for the Great Lakes region, to discuss Kenya’s recent diplomatic foray in the eastern DR Congo and how it is reshaping regional politics. Alan and Nelleke discuss the factors behind the warming ties between Kinshasa and Nairobi and the reasons for Kenya’s recent initiatives towards the DR Congo. They discuss the proposal for the East African Community to deploy a joint force under Kenyan command to fight armed groups in the eastern DR Congo, and they unpack the recent peace talks Nairobi hosted between Congolese authorities and armed groups. They also chat about how the looming presidential election in Kenya could impact Nairobi’s future diplomatic role. 

Finally, Alan talks to Nazanine Moshiri, Senior Analyst for Climate & Security in Africa. They break down the impact of the devastating historic drought hitting much of the Horn region. Nazanine explains which parts of the region are worst hit and outlines how this crisis is exacerbated by the global commodity shocks, which are driving up food prices as well. They also highlight the worrying repercussions, from major displacement to land disputes and intercommunal conflict. Back from recent visits to the northern Great Rift Valley and Laikipia county in Kenya, Nazanine talks about how the drought is upending life there and how the climate shocks are intermixing with rising political tensions and violence ahead of Kenya’s elections.

Click here to listen on Apple Podcasts or Spotify

For more analysis, check out Crisis Group’s Horn of Africa and Great Lakes regional pages.

We want to hear from you! As Season Three of The Horn draws to a close, if you have any feedback or suggestions for topics you’d like us to cover next season, you can write to or get in touch with Alan directly on Twitter, @AlanBoswell.