Pulling Back from the Brink in the Congo
The crisis provoked by the struggle in late May and early June 2004 for control of Bukavu, the capital of the Democratic Republic of the Congo's strategically sensitive South Kivu province that borders Rwanda, is a stark reminder that the political transition agreed in May 2003 is not synonymous with peace. Instead, it should be seen as another phase of the war that began in 1998, cost the lives of millions, and has never been conclusively ended. The Congo is in transition from a country ravaged by a major war to what is intended to become a reunified polity legitimised by democratic elections. This is meant to happen through a process outlined in several agreements that were mediated by South Africa and concluded among the Congolese and external belligerents in what was both a civil and an international conflict. However, that process has not yet reached the crucial stage at which all concerned have concluded that the benefits of peace outweigh the illusory gains of further fighting. The political transition mapped out in the Sun City agreement must be pursued with more resolution and more resources if genuine elections are indeed to be held in 2005 and Central Africa is to achieve a degree of stability.