Heart of Darkness

Congo: Country only suffers more when rebel who replaced a tyrant with tyranny meets his fate.

January 23, 2001

LAURENT KABILA, figurehead of the foreign-backed revolution that overturned the tyranny of Mobutu Sese Seko, solved none of the problems of the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Instead, he compounded them by replacing tyranny with more tyranny, civil war with more war and corruption with worse.

His assassination by a palace guard solves nothing. With his son Joseph proclaimed successor, his disputes with generals are concluded. Nothing else is changed.

The government's writ goes no further inland than before. Its hold on the people of the capital, Kinshasa, remains fear-based.

The rebellion backed by Rwanda and Uganda, anxious to stop Hutu raids from Congo into Rwanda and Burundi, continues. So does the support propping up the Kabila regime by Zimbabwe, Angola and Namibia -- countries that are essentially mercenaries attracted by promises of diamonds and other mineral wealth.

The presidents of Angola and Namibia agreed Friday to keep their war in Congo going. The president of Zimbabwe was absent.

The key for outside diplomacy to bring peace to Congo is to lean on the foreign governments that are meddling and killing for their own agendas.

They are capable of forging a consensus that would allow Congo to restore its national sovereignty and develop a regime with the consent of the people. Joseph Kabila is evidently an obstacle to such an agreement, as his father was. He has no particular legitimacy and ought not be allowed to stand in the way.

Moral, diplomatic and economic pressure by the world community can work in this arena, for good or for ill. The Congo needs peace first.

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