Africa's Seven-Nation War
What seems to be turning into a continental war first broke out on the territory of the Democratic Republic of Congo on 2 August 1998. So far, it has involved a dozen African countries, either directly as combatants in the fighting, or indirectly as mediators in various peace initiatives. This is the second time in two years that Congo has been the theatre of an armed rebellion against the government in place that has degenerated into a regional conflict. In 1996-1997, a regional alliance composed of Rwanda, Uganda, Angola, Burundi and Eritrea toppled Marshall Mobutu and replaced him with Laurent Désiré Kabila in May 1997. With this second war, the hoped-for African renaissance that was born out of Mobutu's removal has lost all substance. The alliances formed two years ago are breaking apart and reforming around the question of whether or not Kabila should remain in power. The rebel forces, comprising Congolese soldiers, Congolese Tutsi Banyamulenge, Rwandan, Ugandan and some Burundian government troops, all accuse Kabila of turning into a dictator and increasing regional instability by his support for the guerrilla groups opposed to the governments of his former allies, including the Rwandan "génocidaires". For his part, Kabila is resisting the rebel movement with support from Angolan, Zimbabwean and Namibian troops acting in the name of the Southern African Development Community (SADC). Kabila accuses Rwanda and Uganda of aggression and "foreign adventurism" in regard to Congolese territory and natural resources.