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Last Updated: Friday, 20 August, 2004, 18:28 GMT 19:28 UK
DR Congo press fears war
Congolese Tutsi soldiers
The Burundi massacre has put the DR Congo peace process under strain

Commentators in the Democratic Republic of Congo press are voicing fears of an outbreak of war with Burundi and Rwanda, following a massacre of Congolese ethnic Tutsi refugees in a Burundi camp.

There is also criticism of Vice-President Azerias Ruberwa's call to reconsider the country's peace process in light of the killings, with one paper saying that ethnic Tutsis have only themselves to blame for it.

War?

The massacre was "a Rwandan-Burundian coalition pretext to attack the DR Congo again", according to L'Avenir.

The paper accuses Burundi President Domitien Ndayizeye of wanting to "conquer" the Lake Kivu region, and warns:

"Now, when the Congolese people aspire to peace, no individual, even Ndayizeye, can interfere to stop the process."

A headline in L'Observateur notes that the Great Lakes region - which includes Burundi, Rwanda and DR Congo - is "sick with fear".

The paper believes that, as "most" leaders in the DR Congo come to power dishonestly, they strive to stay in power "for fear of reprisals".

With elections in the country looming, the paper glumly predicts that such leaders will "make use of any ploy to sabotage them".

Le Phare also sees "dark clouds over Kivu", which it says, "seriously threaten" the country's peace process.

Peace process

Vice-President Azarias Ruberwa - an ethnic Tutsi - comes in for particular criticism after questioning the country's peace process earlier this week in the wake of the massacre.

Mr Ruberwa, whose Rwandan-backed Congolese Rally for Democracy (RCD) forms part of a power-sharing government created a year ago as part of a peace initiative, said the process had been so badly damaged that it should be put on hold until the massacre is fully investigated.

L'Observateur calls on Mr Ruberwa to resign, saying he reacted too hastily and that his comments show he only sees the country "through an ethnic prism".

Ruberwa becomes famous through statements that only add fuel to flames
La Reference Plus

Le Potentiel views Ruberwa's call for a halt as "a betrayal" and accuses him of "subtly brandishing the threat of partitioning the country".

"Each time a crisis peppers the chaotic progress of the transition, and the Banyamulenge [Congolese Tutsi] ethnic group is involved, Ruberwa becomes famous through statements that only add fuel to flames," says La Reference Plus.

The paper goes on to ask: "Whatever allows Ruberwa to make such foolhardy statements, and what is the RCD basely playing at?"

Blame

L'Avenir, meanwhile, rejects Mr Ruberwa's implied accusation that the DR Congo government had a part to play in the massacre, even though Burundi rebels have claimed responsibility for the attack.

Instead, its asserts, the Tutsis have only themselves to blame.

"Everybody is aware of the fact that the Banyamulenge fled hostilities started by [Tutsi rebels Col Jules] Mutebutsi and [Gen Laurent] Nkunda", when they captured the eastern town of Bukavu in June.

"Even at the height of this crisis, the Congolese did not attack any Banyamulenge area," the paper asserts, adding: "If we did not want the Banyamulenge anymore, we would attack those still on Congolese territory instead of attacking those who had taken refuge elsewhere."

BBC Monitoring, based in Caversham in southern England, selects and translates information from radio, television, press, news agencies and the Internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages.




SEE ALSO:
Q&A: Burundi massacre
16 Aug 04  |  Africa


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