Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Could the Fighting End?

Bloomberg is reporting that the CNDP is on the verge of signing a peace agreement with the Congolese government. “We have made a lot of progress,” said Bertrand Bisimwa, chief spokesman for the National Congress for the Defense of the People, or CNDP in a phone interview from the Kenyan capital, Nairobi. “It is possible we sign a deal today.” No details yet on the contents of the deal.

It has never been clear exactly what Nkunda wants. He has at times suggested he is fighting to protect the Banyarwanda people of North Kivu, immigrants from Rwanda whose civil rights have been repeatedly violated since the Congo's independence, and at other times indicated he wants to become the head of the government in Kinshasa. Most recently, he complained about the deal the government struck with Chinese mining companies, in an attempt to capitalize on a widespread feeling that the Congolese may have shorted themselves in the negotiations. But the most credible reports, from the UN and Human Rights Watch, suggest that Nkunda is to a large extent a proxy for Rwandan interests--and that those interests are primarily in the region's substantial mineral wealth. None of these motives are intrinsically contradictory--it would be a surprise if several of them weren't simultaneously true. But it will be interesting to see which of them receive priority in whatever agreement is struck with the government.

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