According to research published by Oxfam, conflicts in Africa have cost the continent more than $150 billion, which is equal to all the foreign help it has received over the same period. According to the report, Africa’s Missing Billions, about half of the continent’s nations have experienced some kind of violence since 1990, which has had a significant negative impact on development and human life.
According to the research, the Democratic Republic of the Congo has endured a civil war and foreign invasion for more than ten years that has cost the country more than $9 billion, or more than 29% of its gross domestic product, in addition to taking more than 4 million lives.
Among the other nations that have been hardest hit are Eritrea, Burundi, and Rwanda.
It was predicted that the fiscal deficit would increase to 3.0% in 2022 (from 1.0% in 2021) because increased capital and current transfer spending cannot be completely offset by increased revenue mobilization. Due to favorable commodity prices and the digitization of the revenue-collecting process, revenues were projected to account for 14.4% of GDP in 2022, while expenditures (18.7% of GDP) were anticipated to rise as a result of salary adjustments and fuel subsidies. The DRC has a promising medium-term prognosis, with growth expected to go up to 6.4% by 2024. However, the DRC’s economy is still susceptible to fluctuations in commodity prices and the expansion rates of its top trade partners, which might be hampered by geopolitical conflicts and a COVID-19 pandemic (World Bank, 2022).
Through increasing global food and energy prices, the economic effects of the conflict in Ukraine might put further pressure on the budget deficit, inflation, and family spending, escalating inequality and poverty. The DRC’s immediate challenge is to increase security, preserve political and economic stability, and speed up ongoing reforms to enable sustainable growth in light of the ongoing hostilities in the East (World Bank, 2022).
The Democratic Republic of Congo has been involved in implacable wars since the 1990s. Even after several peace agreements were put into effect and an elected government was established in 2006, the nation still has difficulties establishing peace over its whole area. High levels of instability and frequent violent incidents have long plagued the eastern parts of the DRC, frequently as a consequence of involvement by neighboring nations. Repeated acts of violence in the DRC’s eastern and other areas show that societally ingrained structural problems make it difficult to change conflicts. If the nation and the Great Lakes area are to have peace, these problems must be resolved.
To put an end to the bloodshed in the DRC, there has been considerable global attention, continental commitment through the AU, and sub-regional involvement through the ICGLR. The DRC has received the UN’s costliest peacekeeping operation. Over time, its mission has been changed to better enable this force to defend people. Other initiatives to promote peace in the DRC have been undertaken by different parties. Although grassroots efforts by civil society organizations to change the causes and culture of violence persist, the prevalence of violent cycles is still alarmingly high. Examining the reasons why peace is still elusive in light of this circumstance is necessary (Accord).
The engagement of foreign players has been a defining feature of nearly every stage of the DRC peace process. These actors have played crucial roles that have occasionally been constructive and occasionally detrimental. The battles in the DRC included several nations and armed organizations. The majority of these parties, if not all of them, had strong views on how the temporary agreements should turn out. This is since each of these nations had specific reasons for joining the conflict, making it necessary for them to monitor the peace agreements that resulted to make sure that these reasons were reflected.
These interests were primarily motivated by the desire to stop rebel forces operating primarily against Rwanda, Uganda, Burundi, and Angola from using the DRC as a back base. Negotiating a fair settlement was difficult due to the numerous parties and varied interests involved. For instance, up to nine countries took part in the Second Congo War. Although the Second Congo War was ostensibly concluded when the transitional government was established in the middle of 2003, Burundi, Rwanda, and Uganda—all of which took part—have subsequently launched incursions into eastern DRC. These invasions have mostly been motivated by national security concerns, but ultimately they have contributed to the DRC’s instability (Accord).
A decade ago, the M23 rebel organization gained notoriety when its members took control of Goma, the biggest city in the eastern Congo and a border city with Rwanda. Many of M23’s fighters were incorporated into the national military following a peace agreement. The organization later reappeared in November of 2021, claiming that the government had fallen short of its ten-year commitments. By June 2022, M23 had taken control of the vital town of Bunagana, which is close to the Ugandan border. M23 has been a source of contention in the worsening ties between Rwanda and the DRC. Both the president of Rwanda and many of the rebel combatants are of ethnic Tutsi heritage from Rwanda. When M23 was founded more than ten years ago, it was fighting for the rights of the Tutsi ethnic group in the Congo. However, many believe they only desire control of eastern DRC because of the region’s mineral wealth (Aljazeera, 2022).
Business organizations have become quite interested in the DRC recently. Geostrategic factors and the country’s abundance of significant minerals, which are essential to the operation of various businesses, are the causes of this interest. The paradox is that even though these organizations greatly profit from the natural richness of the DRC, they don’t appear to place any weight on the sociopolitical problems that arise as a result of their operations.
According to Montague, some mining corporations with headquarters in western countries finance military activities in exchange for lucrative contracts in the DRC’s east. One of the major obstacles to peace in the DRC is the existence of unlicensed mining enterprises. Peace in the DRC will remain a pipe dream as long as these mining firms continue to operate in the current conflict-ridden climate that permits them to sell armaments for minerals.
Natural resource availability in the DRC has been connected to significant issues, such as armed conflict. Sustainable solutions must be found to the problems of unlawful mining and resource exploitation. Several suggestions were made in the Group of Experts on the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s interim report. The UN Security Council (UNSC), which is responsible for enforcing peace and security on a worldwide scale, must put these suggestions into effect.
The UNSC should put international peace and security above the interests of its members in the DRC and establish deterrent measures to compel nations whose businesses or citizens engage in pillaging in the DRC to put in place legislative frameworks to prohibit the same. Recent regulatory frameworks were established by the US government to regulate the sourcing of minerals from the DRC by US-based public corporations. This serves as an example of how governments might regulate business operations that takes place beyond their national borders.
If people in the DRC believe that the government exists to improve their lives and that political processes are not entirely zero-sum in nature, they will start to cultivate a shift in thinking. The ongoing violence in eastern DRC may suggest, among other things, that communities have not embraced the spirit of the peace effort.
The administration must evaluate the peace process and adopt a plan that takes electoral reforms, equitable development, higher living conditions, increased national security, and territorial integrity into consideration. The strategy must prioritize the development of national healing and reconciliation above all else. By providing alternatives to violence as a way of settling disputes between political factions, it must rethink relationships in the DRC.
The Inter-Congolese Conversation of 2001, which brought together the many parties in the conflict to map out a future for the DRC, is an excellent illustration of an efficient and useful dialogue process. For usage in the present crisis, a structure akin to or superior to this may be implemented. Mutual mistrust is prevented from festering to the point of violence when political parties and people believe they have a channel through which to regularly examine their interactions and behavior. This enhances the transformational process. The development of District Peace Committees (DPCs) in Kenya in the 1990s serves as an illustration of the African continent.
For civil society organizations (CSOs) in the DRC to successfully collaborate with local communities for the objectives of peacebuilding and conflict transformation, international non- governmental organizations (INGOs) and development organizations should enhance these organizations. Experiences and lessons from South Sudan have demonstrated that, in the absence of a strong government, empowered and coordinated CSOs may play a critical role in providing social amenities.
To examine measures that would ease rebel group disarming, the third round of meetings for the peace process in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, coordinated by the East Africa regional bloc, has started in Nairobi, the capital of Kenya. Uhuru Kenyatta, a former president of Kenya, served as the meetings’ facilitator, and he stated that their goal was to explore institutional and political reforms that will create a climate that will support the disarmament, rehabilitation, and reintegration of armed groups in the DRC (Chiba, 2022).
Leaders who gathered for a meeting in Angola last year demanded a truce before the M23 rebel group withdrew from the key towns it now controls. M23 has stated it will accept the cease-fire even though it was not a formal participant in the negotiations in Angola. It further adds that it does not believe the Congolese government would uphold the agreement and put a stop to hostilities (Chiba, 2022).
Peter Mathuki, secretary general of the East Africa regional grouping, stated that some of the factions were present during the discussions but did not identify which ones they were. The facilitator intended to determine the main source of conflict in each of the DRC’s five provinces during the meetings and to talk about restoring state authority to the provinces to promote peace (Chiba, 2022).
There will also be a discussion over the complete deployment of the regional army composed of soldiers from the member states. As part of the regional force, which will ultimately include comprise two battalions from Uganda, two from Burundi, and one from South Sudan, a detachment of Kenyan soldiers has already been sent to the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo. Kenyatta highlighted that the region could only help the peace process along; in the end, it will be up to the Congolese people to keep the peace and bear the heavy burden of doing so (Chiba, 2022).
In conclusion, a different strategy from the one that has been tried and failed over the past 20 years will be needed to create permanent peace in the eastern DRC. The population of the area is weary of the prolonged absence of peace and the numerous futile attempts to bring it back. It is time for the DRC government, the UN, and foreign players to consider fresh ideas for achieving peace in the DRC in light of the protracted deadlock.
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