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Wednesday, 24 January, 2001, 11:49 GMT
DR Congo: What should the international community do?
What should be done to stabilise the Great Lakes region?
The death of President Kabila could plunge one of Africa's largest countries into further chaos.

The instability in Congo has already affected the whole region, with Rwanda and Uganda supporting rebel groups, and Zimbabwe, Namibia and Angola fighting on the government's side.

Neighbouring countries have to cope with thousands of refugees fleeing the fighting. The United Nations has agreed that a peacekeeping force will be deployed once the fighting stops.

What should be done? Should the international community get involved immediately? Or should this problem be dealt with by African countries?

A selection of your e-mails will be broadcast on Focus on Africa during the 1705 edition on Saturday.

HAVE YOUR SAY

I have been impressed by the resolve of the people in these countries

Lhaj Marcos, USA
There seems to be a lot of problems in Africa but I have been impressed by the resolve of the people in these countries. They are having growing pains, but once all the territorial and leadership issues are settled, I believe that they will soon be the greatest countries in the world.
Lhaj Marcos, USA

The death of Kabila could also mark the end of bloodshed and chaos in Congo. The Western view of Africa is fatalistic and simplistic. It is too preoccupied with what could go wrong with the continent.
Thomas Nyongesa, Kenyan in USA

First and foremost all foreign countries involved in DRC should pull out and UN peacekeepers be allowed in. A government of national unity should then be formed to be followed later by free and fair elections supervised by the UN. Meanwhile an inquiry commission should be set up to investigate each country which got involved in the crisis and make public how much of the natural resources of Congo they have taken. These should be paid back to the people of Congo by any means necessary. God bless Congo, God bless Africa.
Hussie, Tanzania

The international community should get involved in the resolution of the wars in the Great Lakes region by first and foremost providing the platform for an international conference that will deal with wars in Sudan, Uganda, Rwanda, DRC, Burundi and Angola. Africans stop fighting!
Napoleon Abdulai, Togo

The wars in Africa have a tragic impact for the rest of the world. This is due to the fact that Africans today cannot afford the basic needs for themselves. For example, I remember when I was a little boy in the 1970's, Sierra Leone was able to produce its own food. And today, it cannot even feed its people because of corrupt governments. I hope one day Europe, the US and the rest of the world will let Africa stand on its own two feet and stop sponsoring these corrupt leaders who put their countrymen in senseless wars.
Sidikie, Sierra Leone/ USA


As long as there is poverty in Africa, the people will always remain divided on tribal grounds

Vivian Thunyani, UK/ Malawi
As long as there is poverty in Africa, the people will always remain divided on tribal grounds resulting in endless conflicts, rampant corruption and nepotism. Of course the West needs to intervene in Africa. They need to intervene by removing the debt burden and stop selling arms to war torn areas. Sending a UN army to a country like Congo which is at war with itself is too little, too late. Democracy and peace will only be textbook terms in Africa as long as their lack of basic needs robs them of their dignity.
Vivian Thunyani, UK/ Malawi

By turning this issue over to regional political organisations within Central Africa we give the region legitimacy. If they choose to fight it out, then so be it. Hopefully, President Bush will keep his hands off this one for the sake of the world community.
Donald Beeby, USA

It looks like the chronic instability in DR Congo will not improve without outside help. The other African nations involved lack legitimacy and are only hunting for copper mining rights anyway. The alternative is the UN, but that august body has demonstrated absolute incompetence in the past and should not be trusted now. The solution may be for a peaceable occupation by Nato.
Adam Bullock, Douglas, UK

I don't offer a strategy on dealing with the situation in DR Congo, but I do find it strange that the US (acting through the UN Security Council) is threatening to ban the diamond trade in Liberia because of alleged co-operation with Sierra Leonean rebels. Why not this serious concern with the situation in DR Congo? Could diamonds have anything to do with it? Again the West shows that their only interest in Africa is economic. All that talk about human rights and democracy is just talk.
Douglas Thomas, USA

Kabila's unfortunate assassination should be a mixed blessing to most Pan-Africanists. It puzzles many why Joseph was so instantly and technically made to succeed his father. The Lusaka Accord is the solution. While the OAU and UN should intervene immediately, Zimbabwe, Angola, Namibia, Uganda and Rwandan forces should pull out almost immediately. Let the will of the people rule supreme in the Congo.
Khan Kham Jr, Cameroonian in the RSA


Until Uganda,Rwanda and Burundi respect international laws, there will never be peace in Congo

Amin Kiggundu, Uganda
Until Uganda,Rwanda and Burundi respect international laws, there will never be peace in Congo. Their continued occupation of the Congolese territory will always remain as a roadblock to the establishment of peace and stability in that country. The Americans have also complicated matters by supporting Uganda and Rwanda for their mere economic interests in Congo, which Kabila was blocking.
Amin Kiggundu, Uganda

Whatever has to be done in DRC, it has to be done quickly. I think that the UN has to take this temporary peace and make it last.
Peter Bolton, UK in US

The new RDC leader has to open a new chapter and say, enough is enough, for the sake of the citizens of Burundi, Rwanda and Uganda. As long as a threat to these countries continues, peace is questionable
Jean Bihanga, USA


The colonial heritage of artificial boundaries and exploitation does not help

Tony, USA (ex SA)
There is very little hope for Africa in general. The problems are rife: isolation, corruption, ethnicity, poverty, lack of development and education. The colonial heritage of artificial boundaries and exploitation does not help either. There seem to be two alternatives: recolonization followed by an extensive development program, or a policy of non-engagement, leaving the whole mess to stew. Neither the West nor any other geopolitical grouping have the incentive or available resources for the first course, so it seems the status quo will prevail, with some minor actions to ease western consciences.
Tony, USA (ex SA)

I do not know if any international bodies have ever done anything for Africa really. The only people who can bring peace to themselves are Africans themselves, like Mandela did. We can only count on these international bodies when we have natural disasters like floods (Mozambique) otherwise when it comes to peace they just do not have any idea!
Penelope Muza, Zimbabwe

The only way that ordinary Congolese (and other similarly afflicted Africans) will be able to live in peace will be if their leaders get the message that democratisation and human rights are not just glib words for leaders, but need to be made realities for people. The citizens of these countries should be empowered to take part in the decisions that affect them - unlike the situation now. The problem is, are these leaders being sent this message? Or are they receiving conflicting messages from the international community that seem prepared to forgive a lot in a country with mineral wealth?
JAB, Angola

Africa must handle (or not handle) its own problems. Constant intervention of Western countries does not allow for learning through trial and error by those involved. Progress will come only when the people involved decide they've had enough and decide to leave the past behind. Money and troops won't solve essentially cultural and tribal problems.
Owen Johnson, USA

Hard though it may be to break the habit of assuming we know best, maybe its time the western nations just kept out of it and let the region sort out its own affairs. Given the legacy of colonialism and cold war politics we have already left in Africa, we have no moral authority here.
E George, UK


Inevitably the international community will get involved in one way or another

S Griffiths, Zimbabwean/in UK
Africans generally despise their former colonial masters and other western powers' interference in what they see as their affairs. Why would the international community treat the crisis in the DRC any differently to the indifference that is being shown to the current crises in other African countries such as Zimbabwe? Simply - the DRC is mineral rich. So, inevitably the international community will get involved in one way or another.
S Griffiths, Zimbabwean in UK

The international community should not just look at these old guard but look at the youth who have some insight of bringing change to Africa.
Kundai, Zimbabwe

Nothing. Let Africa handle this alone for goodness sake. The west has meddled enough in this troubled part of the world, might I suggest this is the root cause of its current malaise. Until Africa is allowed to take charge of its own destiny, there is little hope for long term stability. Maybe there will be turmoil but it's imperative that things are permitted to take their natural course
Idris, UK

Here we go again. Another African country asking for our help. One moment the West is being told to leave Africa alone and allow them to deal with the own problems and rule themselves but when there's trouble we're asked to deal with it and rectify the situation. Africa is a huge continent with many countries, can these problems not be sorted out within these countries. Africa wants the West's money and military might when it suits them. We should stay out of Africa and deal with our own problems, of which there are many.
James, UK

DR Congo, Uganda and Zimbabwe, all very mineral wealthy countries who's economies are a disgrace. The incompetence and corruption is an international disgrace and should never have been allowed to happen in the first place. Leave them alone and watch what happens. The only other solution is to have the people of each country throw out these parasites and then the international community can at last do something constructive to help. I feel terribly sorry for the people of these nations.
Chris (ex-UK), Germany


Leadership is all about the rule of law and African dictators must conform to this statute

Sedinam Akpedonu, Ghana
It is about time African dictators realise that they cannot take the peace and lives of their citizens for granted for so long. Almost all war zone countries in Africa has been caused by one dictator or the other and it is becoming increasingly clear that Africans will have to handle their internal affairs properly.

The UN, OAU and other international agencies have long existed and will continue to forestall peace in war torn countries but the solution to these problems lies with our leaders. Why can't they allow democracy to prevail at all times? I do not believe that DR. Congo is too large a country to govern. Leadership is all about the rule of law and African dictators must conform to this statute. I wish to urge all Congolese to act cautiously to avoid any disturbances of peace. The international community should lend a hand in restoring democracy to the land and they must do this through dialogue.
Sedinam Akpedonu, Ghana

Saddam Hussain invaded Kuwait ten years ago and the international community stepped in very rapidly to kick Iraq out because it was a violation of an international law. Rwanda, Uganda and Burundi have done exactly the same by invading the Congo and the international community has done nothing against them. The international law applies to everyone and the international community can't just stand by and watch foreign troops do what they want in the Congo. It is up to the Congolese people to sort out their internal problems, however it is the responsibility of the international community to make sure Rwanda, Uganda and Burundi are punished if they don't pull out of the heart of Africa immediately.
Godfrey Kisela, UK

Africa's problems come from a variety of factors, including the borders inherited from colonial powers. But sorting out those borders is a matter for Africans. Europe wouldn't have thanked or expected any outside powers to interfere with it's affairs in the past and neither should Africa today.
Andrew Clark, UK


The OAU must seriously revise its charter

Innocent Pikirayi, England
First, the UN must understand that there has been fighting in the Congo (Zaire) since the 1960's, and there is nothing to indicate that it will ever stop. If the UN is aware of this, then what it is saying is that they will not send in peacekeeping troops into the now DRC. Either they do it immediately, or ignore the country completely. Second, the DRC is too big a country to manage. It is a colonial monolith which served only two people: King Leopold and Mobutu. The OAU must seriously revise its charter and seek to re-adjust the boundaries of the DRC in line with neighbouring Rwanda, Burundi, Uganda, Tanzania, Zambia, Angola and the Congo. If it could do it for Ethiopia, there are even more compelling reasons why it should do it for the DRC.
Innocent Pikirayi, England

I think this is the time for Africans, especially those in conflict-laden countries, to sit down and make personal commitments for the cause of peace. The power hungry, blood loving leaders should give a chance to the true sons of Africa, who are committed to making the children of Africa live in peace in their rich continent.
Atanas Cosmas Nkelame, Tanzania

It's ironic that most of these African countries fuelling the war in DR Congo have always complained of external interference from the First World. Now, why are they poking their noses into that country's affairs? My strongest appeal to them is to help DR Congo build a stable government and not get involved in the fighting.
Cyprian Otieno, USA


For many years there have been horror stories coming out of Congo

Jim Raye, USA
For many years there have been horror stories coming out of Congo. The Western world and its money and education must get involved. The slaughter of human beings in this corner of the world defies description. This place is a prime target for its politics to be interfered with. Take it over by military force, feed it, educate it then let it go with training wheels on.
Jim Raye, USA

Kabila didn't follow the West's orders and was assassinated like Lumumba almost forty years to the day. The eagerness of Western governments and those who support the aggression on Congo to proclaim Kabila dead betrays their deepest desires. My heart goes out to the people of Congo who have already suffered too much under the West, from the genocide perpetrated by King Leopold, to the brutal rule of Mobutu, to the US-backed Rwandan/Ugandan invasion.
Kole, Canada

The fate of the Congo president is an internal matter that only the people of Congo can deal with. However, the rest of the world should be ready to help out if asked.
Jeff, USA


The Congo does matter

Edward Marek, USA
Several things have to happen. First, the US needs to order Rwanda, Burundi, and Uganda to immediately withdraw from their occupation zones in the Congo, to allow the country to become whole again. The US should threaten financial retaliation if they refuse, through the international financial institutions. Second, a truly new breed of Congolese leader must emerge immediately and set up a transitional government, hold elections within 12 months and reach out to the international community for help. Third, the international community must respond immediately by building an airbridge of aluminium transport aircraft flying in food, medicine, medical technicians and any other help the transitional government says it needs.

The US should lead this effort and get its C-17 and C5 aircraft airborne as soon as a new government is formed in Kinshasa. In my view, the US should do this whether Kabila is dead or alive. The Western community of nations never gave Kabila a chance, and the price has been paid by the Congolese people. Over 2 million displaced through Rwandan, Ugandan and Burundian invasion. We need to launch help right now. The Congo does matter.
Edward Marek, USA

Nothing. Except possibly this: set up a reliable puppet as President and send in some effective management consultants to set the country straight and turn their pathetic economy into something reflecting the huge wealth of the country. Come to think about it this has already been done by Belgium. Short of re-colonising the country we can only watch as they squabble, fight and corrupt their country. Let them be.
Henry, UK

At this juncture, it is very urgent that the international community steps in like they have done in the past. Leaving this issue to the forces from African countries will just escalate the problem. It is important to note that when you are intransigent, you pay the price. This problem should not have arisen. If it happens in the Congo, it will spill over into Zambia and the whole area will be up in flames.
Jones Siasamba, Chairman, International Relations, UNIP, Zambia


What is the solution? That's anyone's guess

Hosam, Boston, USA
What is happening in the Congo is the result of yet another poisonous fruit planted in the era of colonisation. The country's obscure borders created by a Belgian king because he wanted a "square", have been the cause of many of these problems. It has forced tribes and ethnic groups that had once occupied their own nation-states to live together in one country. Add to that economic difficulties and widespread poverty, it is no surprise that the region has been entrenched in civil war for so long. What is the solution? That's anyone's guess.
Hosam, Boston, USA

The international community is reputed for doing too little too late while the OAU is reputed for empty talk. Let the international community handle things differently this time around by stepping in while there is still time to salvage the situation.
Bate Arrah, Cameroon

It seems reasonable to leave the matter to the African countries. The international community should only use its position to put pressure on either side.
Diambu PM, Kinshasa, Congo

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See also:

17 Jan 01 | Africa
Confusion over Kabila's fate
17 Jan 01 | Africa
Why Congo matters
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Cameroon talks overshadowed
17 Jan 01 | Africa
Belgium prepares Congo evacuation