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De Lorenzo: Political Disputes in Eastern Congo Predate Rwandan Genocide

Interviewee: Mauro De Lorenzo, Resident Fellow, American Enterprise Institute
Interviewer: Stephanie Hanson, News Editor, CFR.org
January 24, 2008

Long-simmering conflict in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo has flared in recent months. A peace conference between rebel groups and the Congolese government aims to end the fighting. Mauro De Lorenzo, resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, discusses the numerous armed groups in eastern Congo, including rebels led by Gen. Laurent Nkunda, Mai Mai militias, Congolese government forces, and the remnants of the forces who carried out the Rwandan genocide. The number of groups and their shifting alliances makes it “very difficult for outsiders to penetrate,” he says.

While many attribute the conflict in eastern Congo to fallout from the Rwandan genocide in 1994, De Lorenzo says there are political disputes in eastern Congo that significantly predate the genocide. He argues, however, that in order to quell the conflict in eastern Congo, the Rwandan militias must be induced to leave, or they must be disbanded. Everyone recognizes that these militias must be dealt with, he says, but the political will to do so has thus far been absent. In fact, the Congolese government has at times allied itself with the Rwandan militias to counter other armed groups in eastern Congo. For President Joseph Kabila to push out these militias, De Lorenzo says he needs to broaden his political base within the Democratic Republic of Congo.

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