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  • Print publication year: 2010
  • Online publication date: June 2012

5 - The Defeat of Bottom-Up Solutions


In 2007, I interviewed a high-ranking Western diplomat, who concluded our conversation with the statement:

I don't see this war, or most of the violence [during the transition], as being a question of conflict between communities in the Congo. Even in Ituri, the ethnic element of it was largely drummed up, provoked by politicians and leaders of groups who had a vested interest in power and the control of territories and of riches. There are some local conflicts that need to be resolved, certainly between Banyamulenge and the population in Bukavu [South Kivu], or between Tutsis and Hutus or Hundes in Masisi [North Kivu], but they are not the forces that perpetuate the chaos. The forces that keep the chaos going are the interests of various groups, both foreign and domestic [people in Uganda and Rwanda, Congolese intermediaries, Rwandan Hutu militias]….

[In the Congo,] there was never a conflict in the first place. The war started because the Congo was invaded, because [the Rwandan and Ugandan presidents] did not want Kabila anymore …. The Congolese were not fighting each other until Rwanda and Uganda … paid or forced them … to do it. … [Land conflict, conflict around traditional power, and so on] are all minor considerations in my view …. So I have to be very blunt about it, if I had $100 million, I would not spend [it] on local conflict resolution …. I am telling you straightforwardly that if you are looking at local conflicts as having more than a two percent influence on violence, you are in outer space.

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