North Kivu, Into the Quagmire? An Overview of the Current Crisis in North Kivu
On 2 August 1998, barely 14 months after the fall of the late Zairian President Mobutu, a new armed movement in the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo announced the beginning of another "war of liberation", this time against the regime of Laurent Désiré Kabila. The past few weeks have seen the situation slide quickly into violence. Today, liberation looks increasingly unlikely and fears are growing that the crisis will pull the rest of the country and indeed the region into a complex and long-term conflagration at enormous cost in terms of both human lives and long-term social and economic development. Launched from the eastern province of Kivu, this war differs from the preceding one in three essential respects. First, the various forces that make up the anti-Kinshasa camp share no common agenda, indeed their objectives are often competing. Secondly, the logistical capacities of these forces and their external allies are more limited than was the case in 1996 when Kabila made his push for power. Thirdly, the many guerrilla groups in the east of Congo have been considerably strengthened since 1996 and there is a high level of uncertainty as to whether or not they will support the rebellion or fight to resist it.