Reports of human rights violations coming out of what is now the Democratic Republic of Congo are nothing new, indeed whether the state has been known under it’s current name, Zaire (as it was known under Mobutu Sese Seko from 1965-1997), Belgian Congo, or the Congo Free State under exploitative King Leopold II of Belgium there has been a pattern of human rights abuses that goes back to the 1880s. This week a new chapter of bloodshed has been added to the large Central African country’s sad history as thousands of Congolese citizens have emigrated to their southern neighbor Angola which in addition to creating strain along the border, raises more questions about the stability of the Joseph Kabila regime. The latest bout of carnage comes five months after Kabila refused to honor the constitution, which would see him retire from being President, instead he negotiated a deal which delays the transfer of power until elections can be held this year although despite pressure it remains to be seen whether he will honor this agreement. When he refused to step down in December it sparked hundreds of killings by Congolese security forces which has not abated or completely dissipated.
Although Kabila has moved in recent days to come to a fairer power-sharing agreement with the opposition, fears remain that he will attempt to cling on to power and spark another Civil War like the one that lasted in the country from 1998-2003 which killed an estimated 5 million people, although official figures vary. Hopefully Kabila does follow through on his promises and steps down peacefully, if not and Civil War does result he may find himself in a similar situation to Hissene Habre, the former dictator of Chad who was convicted of Crimes Against Humanity last month in a trial which represents one of the few times international law has been able to jail a leader for slaughtering their own citizens.
Featured Image via U.S. Department of Defense