Archive | May, 2019

Moïse Katumbi’s Return Portends Shifting Alliances in Congolese Politics

On 20 May prominent opposition leader and businessman Moïse Katumbi returned to the Democratic Republic of Congo from exile. In this Q&A, Crisis Group’s Deputy Project Director for Central Africa Nelleke van de Walle discusses the possible impact on Congolese politics, five months after Felix Tshisekedi’s controversial election as president. Who is Moïse Katumbi, and why has he returned? Moïse Katumbi is one of the richest persons in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) – and a political force to be reckoned with. A self-made man, he accumulated his wealth running mining and transport companies in the southern Katanga province. He is popular in Katanga, in part because he is president of a successful football team, Tout Puissant Mazembe, based in the provincial capital Lubumbashi. Katumbi first fled the DRC to neighbouring Zambia in the chaos of the civil war in the 1990s. In the early 2000s, President Joseph Kabila, who had succeeded his father, Laurent, after his assassination in 2001, invited Katumbi back to the country to help him fix Katanga’s mining sector. Katumbi chose to return on 11 July 2003, to coincide with the date when the state of Katanga declared its short-lived independence – a period many Katangais […]

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A botched decolonization: inside Cameroon’s civil war

In Cameroon, civil war is brewing along linguistic lines. Its origins lie in the botched decolonization of the country’s anglophone territory, but President Paul Biya’s repressive regime has poured fuel on the fire. Lorraine Mallinder reports. Lucy speaks of her last day in her village of Mbonge with arresting clarity. The 64-year-old was cooking plantains to sell by the roadside when soldiers came sweeping in to root out separatist rebels known as Amba Boys. She remembers the rat-a-tat-tat of machine guns and the screams of villagers scattering ‘helter-skelter’ – many fleeing to the bush, shot in the back as they ran. ‘Whosoever the bullets met, the people died,’ she says. Mbonge is in Cameroon’s anglophone southwest. The soldiers were with the Rapid Intervention Battalion (BIR), an elite Israeli- and US-trained corps deployed by the francophone regime to crush an anglophone uprising in the northwest and southwest regions. In Douala, a port city just over the border from anglophone Cameroon, countless people who have fled the conflict tell similar stories: of security forces shooting indiscriminately, torching homes and sometimes entire villages in their determination to snuff out the separatist threat. Some call it the ‘anglophone problem’, others ‘the war’. Semantics can be blurring, […]

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