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Monday, 22 October, 2001, 10:41 GMT 11:41 UK
Should DR Congo be split up?
More than two years after signing a fragile ceasefire, domestic parties to the war in the Democratic Republic of Congo have joined the opposition and civil society for 45 days of peace talks in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa.

The national dialogue is aimed at setting up transitional government institutions and paving the way for elections as part of the peace accord signed by rival forces in the DR Congo.

But with so many sides involved in the war, including several foreign countries, can peace ever return to the country? Is the only answer to split Congo up?

This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.

Please, let Congolese deal with their problems their way

Jean-Remy, DR Congo
Rwanda and Burundi are tiny pieces of land, but they have as much trouble as DRC does (probably more). Splitting Congo will solve no problem. By the way, Congolese never talk about splitting their country. Even rebel leaders who surely want to be presidents themselves have never suggested the partitioning of their country. Who is so interested in this idea? Please, let Congolese deal with their problems their way.
Jean-Remy, DR Congo

The DRC is one of two countries in Africa - the other being Sudan - that should be partitioned. The wars in both countries are in large part due to the fact that these vast territories are not viable nation-states. Federalism for the DRC would only serve as a phase on the road to eventual partition. Talk of federalism is itself an admission that the DRC cannot stand as one unit. In both the DRC and Sudan, partition would in fact bring peace.
Nathan Y. Mkamanga, Malawian, in the United States

Why should we split our country, we all know that the war started in Rwanda, Uganda and Burundi. None of the people in the East want Congo to be split. So, just leave us alone and we will solve our problems.
Mbiye Tshiunza, DRCongo/USA

Splitting up is no solution

Emmanuel G. K. George, Liberia
The question whether the DR Congo should be split should not arise in this discussion. The primary issue is how to solve the problems that have plagued this rich nation since the 60s. Political architects should go back to the drawing board. There are many African countries that are smaller the DR Congo which have similar problems; on the other hand there are many countries the world over with people of diverse backgrounds living in harmony. Splitting up is no solution. This problem was caused by the former Soviet Union and the United States so let the Congolese start from the beginning. It may be difficult but it is possible.
Emmanuel G. K. George, Liberia

Should the DRC should be split up? as a Congolese my answer is NO. It would be a more challenging endeavour to split up my country than to restore peace. Along what line would you split Congo? ethnic? There are hundreds of ethnic groups in Congo. Congolese people need to be more involved in the management of their own country. We need to make sure our leaders are accountable to the people (whether they are elected or not). Those politicians have no respect for the people yet they all claim to be legitimate. The people need to rise when a so-called leader gets out of line. It is time for the Congolese people to wake up and take matters in their own hands, and not always wait for the solutions to come from abroad.
M Nkashama, DRC in USA

As a Tanzanian living in Tanzania, I have seen many Congolese in our country, mostly as musicians living here permanently and business people from western Congo. To be honest, unlike other nationals the Congolese are a very united people. The differences most people here talk about are just created. It is the external interference that divides these people. Just leave them alone. Let them have a country that they have only been dreaming of but haven't been able to enjoy since independence!
Milton Joseph, Tanzania

Only foreign aggressors would opt for the partition of DR Congo

Nshimbi Kabamba, Zambia
Only foreign aggressors would opt for the partition of DR Congo. They would like to grab what does not belong to them. They would like to reap where they did not sow. Partitioning Congo would therefore be tantamount to promoting violence, foreign aggression and occupation.
Nshimbi Kabamba, Zambia

I do not think that splitting up the country is the solution. It will cause more headaches than anything else . The Congolese people do not want this war. They believe they can control their future if they are left alone to manage their affairs.
Kasongo Kapanga, USA

One viable option for Congo could be federalism. The country is too big to be controlled by a unitary system of government. Claims of division are not warranted except in line with a federalist option. I'm pretty confident that if the UN helped the Congo strive for peace and to hold elections, we would see the country get out of its current problems.
Paul Komba, Belgium

DRC (formerly Zaire) should not split. I've been all around this vast country and it's beautiful. It also seems homogenous despite the different tribes. Let river transport flourish so the people can sell their products. Send the UN guys (actually tourists) back to their homes. Send the neighbours away and stop the black market of minerals. Finally let this country grow - it deserves better luck.
JKPD, Greece

Today the real issue is the social and economic welfare of the Congolese

B. Kitenge, Canada
I do not think any of the Congolese provinces is fit to turn into a state. What has to be looked at is how the country should be politically organised, taking into account the diversity and specificity of both the regions and people for a better development. Today, the real issue is the social and economic welfare of the Congolese.
B. Kitenge, Canada

Nationals of DRC need to grow up and take matters in their hands like mature political citizens. It's time to put aside their dependence on foreign third parties.
Richard Byamugisha, USA

Splitting the DRC is the worst scenario. Small countries in the region are not necessarily internally stable: Rwanda, Burundi, Lesotho recently, Liberia, Congo-Brazzaville, even Uganda. Above all do not forget, the existing situation in DRC spilled from a conflict in a small Rwanda in 1994.
Edouard K. Mbuyamba, DRC

The split of the Congo, for whatever reason, will not guarantee peace

January Makamba, Tanzania
Africa is an interesting place. The road to state collapse and chaos could be either having too many ethnic groups (Congo & Nigeria) or, paradoxically, too few (Somalia, Burundi). It can happen to both large states (again Congo, Nigeria) and to smaller states (Burundi, Rwanda). Multi-ethnicity in Africa endanger states by having more sociological diversity than the political process can accommodate. Paradoxically, lack of ethnic diversity endangers the state by having too little sociological differentiation for political compromise. So, the split of the Congo, for whatever reason, will not guarantee peace.

A lesson of past splits can be considered here: Yugoslavia did split, but was it peaceful afterwards? Czechoslovakia produced Czech and Slovak republics - and they are peaceful. But here the arrangement was neat for geographical duality fitted with ethnic duality (Almost all Slovaks were concentrated in the East while the Czechs in the West). Africans, apart from the Sudanese, do not have that luck.
January Makamba, Tanzania

The only way the Congolese can have a real peace is if they form a federation, where all the different peoples can govern themselves within a greater Congo.
Berhane Negash, USA/Ethiopian

This is not an issue in the current DR Congo crisis. The question must be asked why the so-called civilised countries support and fund foreign aggression in DR Congo. The international community, which in truth means US and its allies, should not support Rwanda and Uganda to cause havoc in DR Congo in the name of some vague and self-serving "security concerns". I believe only then can any serious peaceful solution be effected in DR Congo. I know that most African countries face gigantic problems in dealing with artificial boundaries drawn by the colonists and probably splitting might be a solution, but currently the issue in DR Congo is not splitting; that's an argument for some foreign imperialists intent on exploiting DR Congo's natural richness.
Waweru, Kenya

It is indeed a shame for Mr. Bhekuzulu Khumalo to opt for a a splitting of the DRC and other Afri- can countries. What an irrational thinking of an African! You sit in Canada and perhaps getting your daily meal and advocating such naive idea? Do you really understand what the brothers and sisters are going through each day in the DRC? I think I understand where you are coming from. You seem to be one of those who plundered the resources of the DRC and harassed the innocent people before leaving for Canada. If you have no positive contribution to the development of the DRC and Africa as a whole, please be quiet and give the peace-makers a chance to take the country from the mess that it is in.
Yankoi D. Kennedy, USA

Yes the DR CONGO should be split. This huge country is tough to govern especially with its natural wealth and many ethnic tribes. Secondly the people of Zaire (DRC) have paid the price of this never-ending war. Split it if you may by the French speaking on one side and the English and Swahili on the other.
Jama, Canada

The main cause of the war in DR Congo is the lack of real democracy in the neighbouring countries coupled with the weakness of the Congolese state. The political confrontations of the neighbouring countries are now being fought on Congolese soil. The rich and easily extractable natural resources of the country have made these wars self-sustaining. The problem of the Congo is a moral problem which the international community is faced with. Should we allow the Congolese people to continue to be victims of other countries' lack of inclusive politics. Already close to three million people have died. The real question should be whether the international community should allow neighbouring countries to carve up Congo.
James Mubiru, USA

Please, don't amalgamate. Don't transfer the ethnic problem of Rwanda into the DRC. No tribes are fighting against others in DRC. It's known now that it is Rwanda and Uganda's Army aggression. Many reports show for whom these countries are "jobbing". Why can you fly in the face of the facts? It is obvious today that the conflict is planned outside of DRC? What it is said in the last report of the Security Council of UN? No, DRC is not Yougoslavia and Kivu Province is not Kosovo? Every Congolese is for the respect of the integrity of the territory. Everyone agrees that it is a colonialist creation. But for now the big majority of the Congolese people accept it. The Congolese people don't want to lose their dignity or to be massacred for minerals. Are the Congolese any less human beings than others?

"Splitting the Congo?" Why even ask this question. Would you ask to split Great Britain, Spain, Canada, the US? No, you wouldn't. Why not ask Western powers to stop pitting African against each other. Why not ask what the source of the trouble in the Congo is. Yes, Belgium supported the first split of the Congo just a few weeks after its independence. Belgium murdered the first elected prime minister Patrice Lumumba. Yes, the United labelled him a communist and decided to murder him. It manufactured a poison in a lab. It supported its Congolese agent and puppet Mobutu and got Lumumba killed. Why not tell the truth or ask questions to seek the truth.

The truth is this present Congo debacle is the continuation of the conspiracy and evil of the so-called western democracies against Africa and other Third World nations. How many coups were masterminded in Washington, London, Paris, etc. in Africa and other nations. If you ask if the Congo has to be split, then ask the whole world to be split. Even thought the Congo and other African nations are makings of colonial empires, there is no reason why people cannot forge unified states based on democratic principles and respect for the rights of all members of the nation state. I only wish western meddlers should just leave us alone.
G Woldenegodgwad, Ethiopian in US

I would like to stress out and make it clear to everyone out there that; despite it's diverse ethnic groups, economic hardship, military and civil unrests just to name a few, the DRC and its people have since independence remained united. They have learned to work together, to ensure that its unity is preserved.

Therefore, as a Congolese, I don't believe that this evil idea of splitting up our country, would come from any patriotic Congolese. No! it comes from hungry foreigners, who are ready to do anything for their own intersts. But I wish to inform them that, no matter how hard they work to try to split a united country up, all the Congolese people from different tribes, living in or outside the country will come together and work extra hard to make sure that such a move will be defeated.
Mulobe, South Africa

You see, the trouble with this world is that notion of people being different that they cannot co-exist. It is a very wrong attitude that since there are many tribes in the DRC, it should be split. Into how many countries? Give me a break!! The problem with the Congo DR is not its vast size. It is politics and nothing else. It is ridiculous to aspire to split it when Africa is talking of the United States of Africa. There must be other solutions - and accepting the existence of the problem is the first step towards solving it.
Ndung'u Ndegwah, Nairobi, Kenya

We all know that the DR Congo is an artificial construction. But, splitting it up is going to create more new problems than it will solve. Other groups will press for fragmentation, and the net result will be an even more de-stabilized region than now. Unfortunately we cannot turn back the clock to the pre-colonial ear. Instead, we have to work with what we have. It is possible to maintain unity in the DR Congo - President Mobutu demonstrated that through his long reign. I think that Joseph Kabila can also maintain stability if, but only if, he is given the backing of the UN. Predictably, and understandably, the eyes of the world are currently turned elsewhere.
Richard Hoskins, UK

Not only Congo should be split up but Zimbabwe, South Africa, Nigeria.

Bhekuzulu Khumalo, Canada
The Congo should not be there in the first place. It is an artificial Belgian creation - just as other countries of Africa are the artificial creations of colonisers. People have the right to survive under their own nations around language and culture. Congo must split up, just as the Soviet Union split up into its representative nations. African wars are not civil wars, they are wars of freedom, wars of independence.

Not only Congo should be split up but Zimbabwe, South Africa, Nigeria. In Zimbabwe for example, Ndebeles and Shonas are different peoples and true freedom would mean they are seperated as it was before the coloniser. The same applies in the Congo, Nigeria, Namibia, South Africa.
Bhekuzulu Khumalo, Canada

It's time to give peace a chance. It's the responsibility of the politicians to make some concessions and reach an agreement. Compromising doesn't mean losing, but is a sign of a healthy communication. Africa and Congo deserves better.
Elias Seyoum, Sweden/Ethiopian

Splitting the Democratic Republic of Congo is not the answer to their problems, and that alone will open other wounds in the Great Lakes and the whole of Africa. In America and Europe, economic union and globalisation is the watchword of the day. Congo and other countries in Africa need good leaders and respect for each other and every other thing will fall in place.
Rafiu Adeoye, USA

Creating more boundaries would further complicate an already multi-national problem.

Eddie Mandhry, Kenya
It is never too late to talk of peace. As the number one exporter of Cobalt with additional resources of gold and petroleum, the DRC is a country with tremendous economic potential. It is pointless to speak of splitting the nation up. We all know how violable the borders between most African countries are anyway, Creating more boundaries would further complicate an already multi-national problem.

The people of the DRC must come to terms with their differences and work to develop a peaceful solution that puts the interests of its people first.
Eddie Mandhry, Kenya

The way out for the Congolese is not to split apart, but to work on a national agenda of reconstruction. In the absence of interference by other countries who are party to the present conflict, there is no reason why peace and prosperity doesn`t come to the DRC. Give the people of DRC a chance to live a normal life, and they will make it.
Dagne Tolla, Ethiopia

What happened to unity? Living together in harmony? How about the spirit of brotherhood? Is there any one out there advocating unity - at least in the country Africans considered their homeland let alone the entire continent? One may hope for the United State Of Africa, but rather, what we see is hypocrisy dividing the people according to ethnic or tribal line. I believe Africans should know better by now and find a way to live together with respect, equal opportunity for all, and justice under one umbrella of unity.
Aykerim Mehadu, Ethiopian in the USA

The enormous size of the DRC, coupled with its lack of infrastructure, makes it virtually impossible for one state to establish lasting stability. I say split it, or construct it.
Mohammed, USA

Disturbing old colonial borders in Africa will be like opening Pandora's box.

Jupiter Punungwe, Malawi
Disturbing old colonial borders in Africa will be like opening Pandora's box. Already there are seccessionist movements in places like Cameroon, Sudan, and even Nigeria. Besides when you split up Congo to whom do you give control in the East. To a disperate group of rebels ruling over an unwilling population my military force? Isn't that a recipe for disaster?
Jupiter Punungwe, Zimbabwean in Malawi

I believe that the DR Congo should not be split up. These peace talks in Addis Ababa may prove to be successful if representatives from both the Kinshasa government and the rebels are solely committed to ensuring peace.
Vijay, U.S.A.

It is only the foreigners who speak about the partition of our country.

Mulangala Lwakabwanga, Democratic Republic of Congo
It is only the foreigners who speak about the partition of our country. No responsible politician, political group, rebel movemement, civil society organisation, nobody amongst the so called negative forces, No Congolese sees partition as an option. What we need today is to have the Congolese themselves take charge of their country. The intercongoloese dialogue is step one in this process.

Whenever the Congolese have had a chance to meet and discuss the future of their country, they have always opted for a federal system which would take care of the regional / local needs and bring the administration closer to the people. For them, partition is not an option.
Mulangala Lwakabwanga, DRC

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See also:

27 Sep 01 | Africa
DR Congo peace talks end early
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