An overview of the wars
by Katharine Derderian
Colonized by the Portuguese in 1483, Angola became a centre of the slave trade, with some three to four million of its people enslaved and sent mainly to Brazil and the Caribbean until the practice was outlawed in the nineteenth century. An anti-colonial movement began with local revolts in 1961. The main independence movements that emerged were Jonas Savimbi’s unita (União Nacional para a Indepência Total de Angola) and the Marxist-Leninist mpla (Movimento Popular de Libertacão de Angola), led by Agostinho Neto until 1979, and then by José Eduardo Dos Santos, the current president. With the end of the Salazar dictatorship in Portugal in 1974, independence was granted to all colonies in a haphazard, unprepared manner, leaving behind a power vacuum. From independence in 1974 until the late 1980s, the Angolan conflict involved external forces engaged in a cold war proxy conflict. After establishing their base in Luanda in 1975, the mpla received continued support from Cuba and the Soviet Union, while unita was backed by Mobutu’s Zaire and the U.S. In addition, South Africa supported the unita in the interests of blocking the development of a socialist African state on its northern border. With the end of the cold war, the Angolan conflict lost most of its ideological justification – as well as the superpowers’ political and military support. First peace accords were signed in 1988 and unavem i (United Nations Angola Verification Mission) oversaw the withdrawal of Cuban troops by 1991. External pressure brought both sides to negotiate the Bicesse peace agreement in 1991, providing for a ceasefire, demobilization and elections in 1992. unavem ii peacekeepers were powerless to ensure compliance with demobilization, and both sides maintained their own secret armies even as the joint faa (Forças Armadas Angolanas) were founded as the precondition for elections. In the elections of September 1992, Dos Santos received 49.6% and Savimbi 40.7% of the vote, necessitating an election run-off. unita rejected the election results and quickly re-mobilized. During this “third war”, the mpla controlled the coastal area, Luanda and the majority of provincial capitals, while unita controlled most of the countryside and only a few provincial capitals, establishing parallel civil and military administration there. Civilian populations in government-controlled provincial capitals such as Malange and Kuito suffered as they were besieged by unita. In the relative absence of external support, both sides drew on natural resources to finance their forces – the mpla with oil and unita with diamond revenues. By 1994, political pressure and territorial losses brought unita to the bargaining table. The resulting Lusaka Protocol of 1994 provided for the recognition of the 1992 election results, demobilization and inclusion of unita in government administrative and military structures. The un deployed a third, larger and better resourced observer mission (unavem iii) to oversee its implementation and a unified government (Governo de União e Reconciliação Nacional, gurn) was formed. 1994 to 1997 was a relatively peaceful period, but the agreement gradually collapsed and war resumed with a large-scale government attack on unita in December 1998. As the conflict intensified, harassment of un personnel increased and two un planes were shot down in January 1999, culminating in the withdrawal of the un peacekeeping mission in March 1999. By late 2001, the government had captured all unita strongholds. unita responded with guerrilla tactics, attacking government positions and focusing on diamond trade and the pillage of civilian populations rather than on territorial gain. During this last period of the war, both sides inflicted increasing violence on the civilian population. unita extracted “support” by looting, forced recruitment and forced labour, while the faa resorted to a strategy of isolating civilian populations from unita. Government “cleaning” (limpeza) operations involved forcible displacement of civilian populations into government-controlled areas, with those remaining in their communities of origin later targeted as de facto unita supporters. On February 22, 2002, Savimbi was killed in the Lucusse / Moxico province. Negotiations proceeded quickly, resulting in an agreement for a ceasefire and demobilization process effective immediately on April 4, 2002. The decades-long war left Angola home to up to 1.4 million internally displaced people, while over 450,000 Angolans had fled as refugees, mainly to dr Congo (193,000) and Zambia (211,000).
Due to the inaccessibility of large parts of the country until the ceasefire, the civilian population in inaccessible “grey zones” between the conflict parties had suffered from high levels of malnutrition and disease, while remaining entirely isolated from any form of humanitarian assistance. The result was a catastrophic nutritional emergency directly after the ceasefire from April to September 2002. Despite the country’s oil wealth, the legacy of the war remains, with the presence of up to 12 million landmines and the generally poor healthcare infrastructure leaving the population vulnerable even as communities return and rebuild.
Ambon, Maluku, Indonesia
From 1999 to 2002, Ambon in the Indonesian archipelago of Maluku was the scene of violent conflict between Muslim and Christian communities. Once known as the “Spice Islands”, Maluku experienced Portuguese and Dutch colonization, leaving behind diverse religious practices, including Islam, Catholicism and Protestantism. While the majority of the Indonesian population subscribes to the Islamic faith, the population of Maluku, some 1,700 kilometres from the capital Jakarta, is more evenly split between Muslims and Christians. These divisions are further complicated by the fact that the Christian inhabitants of the main island of Ambon supported Dutch colonists against the Java-based Indonesian independence movement until the country’s independence in 1949, and then later briefly fought against the central government for their own autonomy from Indonesia.
Mistrust between Maluku’s religious communities centres around the political and numerical balance between the populations in the region and their access to basic services and employment. The Muslim community asserts that Christian militants aim to oust recent Muslim immigrants and to bar them from the greater access to basic services which Christians have enjoyed since Dutch colonization. Christians cite the targeting of their own community on various levels, including Muslim immigration into the province, destruction of churches and overall lack of state protection afforded their members. At the same time, members of the national army and security forces were likewise hobbled in their response to the fighting by inner divisions due to divergent allegiances to the conflicting religious communities. In addition to this conflict, the archipelago remains fragile and vulnerable to frequent natural catastrophes, including floods, high tides and earthquakes.
The conflict between Christians and Muslims began in January 1999, in the capital city of Ambon. After heavy casualties at the outset of the conflict, the balance shifted in mid-2000, when Laskar Jihad [Holy War Warriors], a Java-based Islamic grouping, recruited fighters for the Ambon conflict, with training from allied military within the Indonesian army tni (Tentara Nasional Indonesia) and support from co-religionists within the Indonesian security forces. As a result, Christian militias experienced casualties and displacement, and the national government declared a state of emergency in Maluku in June 2000. By 2001, violence was on the decline, with ever fewer direct attacks or armed confrontations – although occasional shooting and bomb attacks occurred in Ambon and the surrounding islands. Sporadic insecurity served opportunities for militants to gain political and economic advantages in the vacuum left by the conflict. By this point, the population found itself divided into segregated Christian and Muslim zones.
During the three-year conflict, some 5,000 to 10,000 people were killed and 500,000-700,000 displaced, impacting starkly on the region. During the devastating fighting, Maluku’s capital Ambon was divided into two communities separated by a strip of no man’s land.
The signing of the Malino Declaration in February 2002 launched a dialogue between the conflicting communities and gradually led to stability in the province. This de facto ceasefire foresaw the disarmament and banning of militias and the return of the displaced to their homes.
Still, tensions continued into 2003, exacerbated by periodic incidents of violence. Elections for a new provincial governor took place in August 2003, after which the state of emergency was lifted and normalcy returned to Ambon. In April 2004, violent clashes briefly resumed during a political demonstration. The massive tsunami of December 26, 2004 indirectly impacted Ambon and other conflict-affected areas of Indonesia by diverting international attention away from regions such as Maluku towards the natural catastrophe response. Today, Ambon remains relatively calm but potentially volatile as communities remain segregated, both in their living quarters and in their access to health structures, schools and vital basic services.
Founded in 1820 as a republic populated by both freed American slaves and local populations, Liberia has suffered repeated coups and inter-ethnic unrest since the 1980s. Between 1989 and 2003, around 200,000 people were killed and one million displaced in Liberia’s fourteen-year long civil war. The war left behind tens of thousands of demobilized soldiers, many of them children; a chronically under-developed country where only 15 percent have formal employment, and transport, education and healthcare systems have declined or been destroyed as a result of armed conflict.
The civil war began in 1989, when the National Patriotic Front of Liberia (npfl), led by Charles Taylor, launched an insurgency against the government of Samuel Doe. Doe was assassinated in 1990 and years of on-off fighting between rebel splinter groups, government forces and West African peacekeepers ensued. The conflict in Liberia was closely interlinked with the civil war in neighbouring Sierra Leone and spread instability across the region as Ivory Coast and Guinea became involved.
After the signing of a peace agreement and the commencement of disarmament in the mid-1990s, Charles Taylor was elected president in 1997. In the last years of the 1990s, two rebel groups emerged to challenge the Taylor regime: lurd, Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy, backed by Guinea, and model, Movement for Democracy in Liberia, which received support from Ivory Coast.
In 2003, lurd forces advanced on Monrovia and fighting intensified in July as rebels and government forces battled for control of the capital. Pressured by international players and cornered by the rebels who controlled most of the country, Charles Taylor was forced into exile in Nigeria. A peace agreement was signed in August 2003 and the un launched the 15,000-strong peacekeeping mission unmil (un Mission in Liberia), one of its largest-ever deployments.
In November 2005, national elections were held and economist and former finance minister Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf defeated footballer George Weah. Johnson-Sirleaf took office in January 2006 as Africa’s first female president. In March 2006, Charles Taylor was captured as he tried to flee Nigeria, charged with war crimes and crimes against humanity for his role in backing Sierra Leonean rebels during that country’s brutal civil war. The trial against Taylor began in June 2007 in the Hague. In-country, a Truth and Reconciliation Commission founded in early 2006, has begun to address war crimes committed between 1979 and 2003.
Liberia remains one of the poorest countries in the world and access to basic services remains extremely limited. All major referral hospitals are located in the capital Monrovia, and rely mainly on international support. Recently, electricity has been partially restored in the capital Monrovia after a fourteen-year blackout and standpipe water has become available in some parts of the city for the first time in years. A large majority of the population continue to live in crippling poverty, struggling to survive, as the country has only just started to recover from the ravages of war.
Afghanistan came into global public consciousness after the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States and the resultant military action by us-led coalition forces against Afghanistan’s Taliban government, viewed as harbouring and supporting the terrorist network Al-Qaeda. Yet the humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan dates from far earlier in the 1970s, with ongoing civil war and foreign military interventions, violence and widespread displacement resulting in enormous humanitarian needs among the civilian population.
Throughout the 1970s, communist groupings clashed with Islamic militants, with a Soviet invasion in December 1979 only exacerbating the internal conflict. Lasting until 1989, the Soviet military intervention cost over one million Afghan lives and galvanized the armed insurgency of the Mujahideen against the Soviet-backed Afghan government. From 1992 onwards, interfactional fighting among the Mujahideen ended in the territorial division of the country among diverse warlords and the loss of central authority over the country. In 1994, the Islamist Taliban movement emerged and gradually took control of the country, occupying the capital Kabul in late September 1996 and imposing a strict version of sharia (Islamic law). Some opposition persisted in the form of the Northern Alliance, which fought the Taliban from 1996 until 2001. Still, the Taliban remained in control of the overwhelming majority of the country’s territory throughout this period, except in some of the northern provinces of Afghanistan.
Starting in October 2001, the us-uk coalition’s military intervention in Afghanistan, supported on the ground by the Northern Alliance, led to the overthrow of the Taliban regime in December 2001. A un-sanctioned interim government was established in Kabul and buttressed by a uk-led peacekeeping force, isaf (International Security Assistance Force) until nato forces took over in 2006. Despite elections in 2004 and 2005, violent attacks, including suicide attacks unprecedented in the Afghan context, increased against international and national actors perceived as supporting coalition or other Western interests. Clashes between the new Afghan government and remnants of the Taliban continue to date, while individual warlords also still represent a centrifugal tendency in the country.
Large segments of Afghanistan’s population remain dependent on humanitarian action, yet continually diminishing security and economic collapse point to declining conditions for the population. Humanitarian space is all but non-existent, as us coalition forces regularly associated military activities with humanitarian action, removing the essential independence and neutrality that had served to protect humanitarian workers in Afghanistan for decades. Humanitarian agencies now find themselves targets of violent attacks, with 26 aid workers killed in 2006, the highest number in any context worldwide – not counting many more aid workers injured or threatened. As a result, it remains impossible to get a truly accurate, independent assessment of the extent of the emergency within Afghanistan’s borders.
Years of war and ongoing instability have left behind 132,000 internally displaced people and some 2.1 million refugees in neighbouring countries as of mid-2007, living with prospects of returning to absent or minimal infrastructure, generalized insecurity, and an overwhelming absence of assistance and development.
In one of Africa’s longest-running conflicts, Uganda has experienced ongoing inter-regional warfare with ethnic and religious dimensions since the 1970s.
During the Idi Amin regime of 1971-1979, the national army massacred Acholi and Langi people, who had predominated in the prior regime of Milton Obote (1962-1971). When Obote regained power, his army took revenge on the inhabitants of the West Nile region, Amin’s place of origin. Starting in 1986, opposition forces re-emerged in the Acholi region. As Yoweri Museveni’s National Resistance Army (nra) deposed Acholi president Tito Okello in January 1986, Acholi opposition and ex-military joined forces in the Uganda People’s Democratic Army (upda) to fight the government from 1986 to 1988.
A breakaway upda fighter Joseph Kony launched the Uganda Democratic Christian Army (udca) in 1987, drawing on the upda, but also making reference to the regional Holy Spirit Movement (hsm), claiming to be a relation and successor to Alice Auma, an Acholi spiritual medium advocating struggle against the government. By 1992, Kony’s forces would come to be known as the Lord’s Resistance Army (lra), with their activities focused mainly in the northern Acholi region.
Until the signing of the Nairobi agreement between Uganda and Sudan in 1999, the lra received support from the Sudanese government and even fought directly against the Southern Sudanese spla [Sudan People’s Liberation Army], itself supported by the Ugandan government. At the same time, the Museveni government received external support from Kabila in drc until 1998, as well as military support to the updf (Uganda People’s Defence Force, successor of the nra) from the us and the uk.
The Ugandan conflict has been characterized by massive displacement in the northern regions of the country. International bodies have cited abuses perpetrated by both sides against the civilian population, including forcible displacement, rape and violence by the government side, and killings of civilians, torture, mutilation, sexual abuse, and the targeting of humanitarian aid workers by the lra. The lra has become notorious for mass abductions of children and the use of child soldiers, with international bodies estimating that up to 80% of lra fighters were abducted children and up to 25,000 children may have been abducted since the foundation of the lra. Large numbers of children in northern Uganda live as “night commuters”, fleeing their homes during the night to avoid abduction into the lra.
Due to the conflict, Uganda currently has up to two million internally displaced people (idps), with over 90% of the displaced fleeing within the northern districts of Kitgum, Pader and Gulu, and seeking shelter in camps or urban centres. Displaced populations have become caught up in the crossfire, with government forces forcing people into “protected villages”, and idp camps becoming targets for lra attack.
In October 2005, the International Criminal Court (icc) completed a year-long investigation into Uganda and issued arrest warrants for Joseph Kony and five other lra leaders. With violent targeting of humanitarian aid workers at the time, it appeared that the Ugandan population would have to chose between peace, justice and life-saving aid. Yet tentative peace talks between the Ugandan government and the lra began in Juba, Sudan on July 14, 2006, and led to a ceasefire in late August 2006, according to which the lra agreed to leave Uganda for assembly areas managed by the Sudanese government. Talks between the conflict parties now trail due to walkouts and competing demands, as displaced people cautiously observe political developments from camps and other refuges, removed from their home communities.
The civil conflict in Burundi consisted of recurrent clashes between majority Hutu rebel groups and minority Tutsis who have predominated in government and society since the country’s independence in 1962. The roots of Burundi’s civil war lie in often politically manipulated inter-ethnic tensions within the Great Lakes region, as well as economic factors (overpopulation and conflict over resources) and the struggle for political power. Throughout the war in Burundi, the Tutsi army targeted the Hutu population repeatedly, with massacres in 1972, 1988 and 1993, leading to refugee flows across Burundi’s borders into the neighbouring countries of Rwanda and Tanzania. Repeated Hutu uprisings throughout the years developed into an armed struggle in the early 1990s, as rebel groups developed within refugee camps and launched cross-border attacks from Tanzania.
In October 1993, Burundi’s first democratically-elected Hutu president, Melchior Ndadaye, and several of his ministers were assassinated, leading to the resurgence of the conflict in 1995. Of several Hutu organizations, the two main rebel armed groups emerged in the early 1990s – Forces Nationales de Libération (fnl) in 1991 and Forces pour la Défense de la Démocratie (fdd) in 1994. In the course of this civil war, some 300,000 people lost their lives in a conflict characterized by inter-ethnic killings of civilians perpetrated by both sides of the conflict.
What was originally an internal civil war also became international as the Burundian government became involved in the conflict in neighbouring Zaire/Democratic Republic of Congo (drc), cooperating with Rwandan and Ugandan forces and with the drc rebel movement rcd (Congolese Rally for Democracy). Similarly, the fdd and the fnl collaborated with the drc government military inside drc against the Burundian army. Rebel attacks from back bases in Zaire/ drc and Tanzania continued above all for the duration of the drc conflict until 2001. At the same time, the fnl in particular maintained constant pressure on the population of the capital Bujumbura from the surrounding province of Bujumbura Rural. To undermine rural popular support for the rebels, the Burundian government initiated large-scale forced regrouping of Hutu civilians into rudimentary camps starting in the mid-1990s; at their height, some 300,000 people were living in these camps until the government closed them under international pressure in 1999.
In 1998, peace negotiations began under the leadership of former Tanzanian President Julius Nyerere, followed in late 1999 by Nelson Mandela. In August 2000, the Arusha agreement was signed, providing for army reform and democratic transition – yet the fdd did not sign the accord until November 2003. The fnl also refused to sign the 2000 accord, and remained engaged in war with the government, including the August 2004 massacre at Gatumba along the Burundian border of 150 Congolese Tutsi fleeing the drc. The fnl continued to battle the government and its fdd allies in Bujumbura Rural province until reaching a ceasefire agreement in September 2006.
From June 2004 to December 2006, the United Nations Operation in Burundi (onub) was present in-country to advance the electoral process and to protect civilians in conflict. The new Burundian constitution of March 2005 encoded the principle of power-sharing between the ethnic groups. In July-August 2005, parliamentary and presidential elections took place, bringing the fdd into power with a purposefully non-ethnic approach that gained the support of some of the Tutsi population.
Still, since elections, the political climate in Burundi has deteriorated and the fault lines in the peace process have become evident. The government has arrested journalists and opposition figures accused of a coup plot in mid-2006, and also found itself cited by international bodies for corruption and human rights violations. The situation remains fragile with the slow demobilization of 50,000 former fighters, the instability in neighbouring drc, the gradual return of some 500,000 refugees and a significant reliance on international aid for the provision of basic services to a still-vulnerable population.
Since their partition and independence in August 1947, India and Pakistan have remained in tension over the territory of Kashmir. Over the years, this territorial dispute has regularly erupted into open conflict, and still remains unresolved. In 1947, as Kashmir’s rulers wavered between independence and accession to one of the two states, an invasion from Pakistan and unrest in Western Kashmir led to a request for Indian military assistance, on condition of the territory’s accession to India. Indian intervention sparked open warfare between India and Pakistan until the un responded to stop the fighting. The Line of Control (LoC) established during the ceasefire in 1949 has become the de facto border between Indian and Pakistani-controlled areas of Kashmir. Founded itself on Muslim aspirations for a separate state, Pakistan views the mainly Muslim region of Kashmir as part of its own territory and, based on the 1949 accord, calls for a un-managed plebiscite on the status of Kashmir. By contrast, India regards such a plebiscite as impossible to achieve and argues for the Muslim territory to enjoy the greatest possible autonomy within the constitutional framework of the pluralistic Indian state.
After 1949, fighting resumed in 1964 as Pakistani fighters entered Indian-held Kashmir, and again throughout the 1980s, as the two countries increased military presence along the border at disputed points along the LoC, such as the Siachen glacier. In December 1988, the two countries signed an agreement establishing inter-state relations and taking the first steps toward a peace settlement in 1989. Already in 1990, Indian accusation of Pakistani support for insurgencies in Kashmir and Punjab marked the beginning of renewed conflict. India cited Pakistan’s support for Kashmiri militants, while Pakistan alleged Indian militarization of the border area. Throughout the following decade, cross-border fighting and tension flared, alternating with periods of détente and negotiation with international support, finally complicated by the two countries’ nuclear arms race starting in 1998.
Open war erupted once again in May 1999, as fighters entered Kashmir from Pakistan, allegedly with Pakistani government involvement. This intensive phase of the conflict featured heavy weaponry, causing over 1000 deaths and displacing some 70,000 people. Brief but repeated clashes in Kashmir continued until 2003, when the two countries entered a period of rapprochement, renewing travel connections and launching discussions on Kashmir for the coming year. In November 2003, after Pakistan declared a unilateral ceasefire along the LoC, the warring parties reached a ceasefire agreement after thirteen years of hostilities.
The ensuing diplomatic dialogue between Pakistan and India began in February 2004, but has failed to reach any major results. Still, the 2003 ceasefire has held and overall tensions and military activity have diminished, as a very tentative process of normalization has emerged on the ground. In the course of the past years, the two countries achieved various milestones with “confidence-building measures” such as the resumption of bus services in April 2005 between Srinagar and Muzaffarabad, the two capitals of Kashmir, and the opening of several crossing points along the LoC in the aftermath of the October 2005 earthquake. In May 2006, trade and travel links across the LoC were again reinforced.
India and Pakistan’s “composite dialogue” continues to stall over Kashmir and other territorial disputes, issues of terrorism and nuclear proliferation. Meanwhile, Kashmir remains in a state of “cold peace” as the two countries’ interests continue to diverge at great economic and human cost, exposing the population to episodic violence and precarious living conditions.
Sometimes called “Africa’s world war,” the conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo (drc) has involved national and international forces, while also encompassing grave violence and widespread use of rape as a weapon of war, the spread of interethnic clashes, resource wars and tension over marginalization of certain groups within the population. The conflict has suffered a low profile in international awareness despite an extraordinarily high level of mortality (some estimate 3.9 million dead from 1998 to 2004) and the flight of one million internally displaced people and 430,000 refugees. In this vast country where conditions vary widely in different areas, the vulnerability of drc’s population has been further complicated by natural disasters such as floods and volcanic eruptions and outbreaks of preventable diseases such as malaria, cholera, measles and haemorrhagic fevers. Together with these factors, the conflict has only exacerbated an overriding decline in infrastructure, and the state is often absent from the provision of vital basic services for its population.
After independence from Belgian colonialization in June 1960, Zaire was governed from 1965 until the mid-1990s by President Mobutu Sese Seko, who exercised tight control over the country’s political and economic life, despite ongoing tensions and low-intensity fighting. The first period of war in drc began in October 1996, as the Mobutu government was challenged by Laurent-Désiré Kabila’s Alliance des Forces Démocratiques pour la Libération (afdl), supported by Rwanda and Uganda and uniting diverse rebel groups with the Banyamulenge (ethnic Tutsi from Rwanda, residing in eastern drc and persecuted under Mobutu). Swiftly advancing on the capital Kinshasa from the east, the afdl succeeded in unseating Mobutu by May 1997. This attack unleashed a humanitarian crisis as Hutu refugees from Rwanda sheltering in eastern Zaire were caught up in the insecurity.
Shortly after Kabila assumed the presidency, a new conflict emerged in August 1998 as the Rassemblement Congolais pour la Democratie (rcd) attacked the Kabila regime, drawing on various opposition forces including Mobutu supporters, disillusioned afdl members and Banyamulenge reacting against Kabila’s anti-Rwandan stances. The rcd eventually split into several groups, with Kabila’s former allies Rwanda and Uganda transferring their support to separate rcd factions. In November 1998, a second rebel group emerged as the Mouvement de Libération Congolaise (mlc) under Jean-Pierre Bemba launched a rebellion against Kabila. In the following years, fighting mainly remained centred on eastern drc, dividing the country along a north-western to south-eastern front line until mid-2003. The war caused a ripple effect of tensions and pillaging of drc’s natural resources such as diamonds, timber, coltan and gold, as documented by the un and other international organizations. By early 2002, the wider conflict also sparked ethnic clashes between the Hema and Lendu populations.
The involvement of neighbouring states further complicated the two phases of the conflict in 1996-1997 and 1998-2001. In the first period of war, various rebel groups from Rwanda, Uganda, Burundi and Angola opportunistically aligned themselves with Mobutu’s army. At the same time, the Maï-Maï emerged from village self-defence groups to become militias ultimately siding with Kabila’s afdl. Rwanda supported first the afdl against Mobutu and then rcd-Goma in the interest of countering Hutu militias in eastern drc. Likewise, Uganda aided the afdl and later the rcd-ml (Mouvement de Libération), to address anti-government groups based in drc. Angola likewise supported the afdl in response to Mobutu’s allowing the Angolan rebel unita to use Zaire as a back base for their attacks. Later, Angola was to join Zimbabwe, Namibia and Chad to support the Kabila government, while Kabila, like Mobutu, harnessed regional rebel forces from Rwanda, Uganda and Burundi to his advantage.
In July 1999, the Lusaka ceasefire accords were signed by Congolese warring parties as well as regional governments, providing for militia disarmament, a un peacekeeping force, and “inter-Congolese dialogue”. Still, combat persisted on the ground, both between government forces and rebels, as well as between competing rebel movements. In January 2001, Laurent Kabila was killed and replaced by his son Joseph Kabila, giving new impetus to stabilization, as the warring parties disengaged, the un Mission in the drc (monuc) was deployed, and regional armies began to withdraw.
In December 2002, ongoing negotiations finally yielded an agreement for implementation of elections after a two-year transitional government headed by Kabila with four vice-presidents, each heading an unwieldy entourage of 36 ministers. In the following years, fighting in the regions of Equateur, Katanga and the Kivu provinces continued, as well as violent divisions within the national army. This situation of “neither war nor peace” represented another chapter of violence and human rights violations facing the Congolese population.
Still, 2005-6 saw the development of a new constitution, paving the way for elections. In July and October 2006, presidential and parliamentary elections were carried out, confirming Kabila as president; brief clashes between supporters of Bemba and Kabila’s forces barely marred the electoral process. Even with the current state of peace, over 16,500 monuc troops remain on Congolese territory and the two successive wars have created numerous refugees and led to widespread separation and impoverishment of families, who only now have an opportunity to recover. Despite an astonishing wealth in natural resources, the drc remains one of the poorest countries on the Human Development Index, currently 167 of 177 countries (down from 140 in 1992), with the population still struggling to survive in extremely poor and precarious living conditions, with minimal, if any, access to basic services.
A French colony until 1960, Côte D’Ivoire has historically been one of the economically stronger countries of West Africa and politically stable for decades under the one-party system of President Félix Houphouët-Boigny. With over sxity distinct tribes and significant economic immigration from the neighbouring countries, Cote D’Ivoire is likewise characterized by remarkable ethnic and cultural diversity.
Falling commodity prices in the 1980s led to economic and later political problems, while fierce competition over the presidency in the 1990s led to instability and the rise of the xenophobic idea of “Ivoirité”. Despite the election of Henri Bédié in 1993 after Houphouët-Boigny’s death, General Robert Gueï led a coup in December 1999 and took over power in the country. In the 2000 presidential race, former prime minister Alassane Ouattara (rdr, Rally of Republicans) was excluded based on a constitutional article requiring that both the candidate’s parents be Ivoirian. Following presidential elections in which Laurent Gbagbo (fpi, Ivoirian Popular Front) emerged as the new president, clashes between Gbagbo’s and Ouattara’s supporters resulted in numerous deaths, the boycott of legislative elections by Ouattara supporters, and ultimately the inclusion of four rdr ministers in the Gbagbo government.
Unrest continued as some military staff attacked government facilities in September 2002 and the government responded with heavy-handed security measures in Abidjan, displacing thousands. At the same time, rebel groups emerged and took control in the north, eventually forming an alliance called the “Forces Nouvelles” (fn) under Guillaume Soro, including the Patriotic Movement of Ivory Coast (mpci), the Popular Ivorian Movement for the Great West (mpigo) supported by Charles Taylor’s Liberia and Movement for Justice and Peace (mjp) rebel groups. A ceasefire line was established in October 2002 and became a wide buffer zone stretching across the country, guarded by un peacekeepers (unoci) and French troops (Force Licorne) and known as the “Zone of Confidence” but characterized by lawlessness and generalized violence, in particular in western Côte D’Ivoire.
After government air strikes on rebels killed nine French peacekeepers in November 2004, the French military’s retaliatory bombardment of the Ivorian air force resulted in massive anti-French and anti-Western unrest. Ongoing negotiations and repeated ceasefire agreements, in January and July 2003 and April 2005, were agreed but resulted in little change on the ground, as the country remained divided between the rebel-held north and the government-held south. On March 4, 2007, the warring parties reached the Ouagadougou peace accord, which established power-sharing arrangements including the fn in a transitional government, as well as processes of disarmament/demobilization of former combatants and issuance of national identification – both of which are running behind schedule, delaying the date of long-planned elections. In addition, Prime Minister and former fn leader Soro’s plane came under fire in June 2007. Even after the removal of the “Zone of Confidence” in April 2007, French and un peacekeeping forces remain in the country.
Repeated short-term displacement and periods of extreme violence, especially in Western Côte D’Ivoire, have eroded agricultural activity and other coping mechanisms, leaving the now-cautious population waiting for concrete results of the political process.