The Democratic Republic of the Congo and the debate in Germany concerning EUFOR RD Congo Mission

Term Paper (Advanced seminar), 2007

27 Pages, Grade: 1,7


Table Of Contents

1. Introduction: “Africa is Burning!”

2. History and the recent conflict in the DRC
2.1 Historical Overview from independence to the fall of Mobutu
2.2 The transition process 1997-2006
2.3 About constitutions and elections 2006

3. The discussion in Germany
3.1 Opinions of the Federal Government
3.2 Pros and Cons in the German Parliament
3.2.1 The Christian Democratic Union (CDU/CSU)
3.2.2 The Social Democratic Party (SPD)
3.2.3 The Liberal Democratic Party (FDP)
3.2.4 The Green Party (Buendnis 90/ Die GRUENEN)
3.2.5 The Socialists (Linkspartei/PDS)

4. The EUFOR-RD Congo Mission lead by Germany
4.1 Planning and Descriptions
4.2 Missions Development (2006)
4.3 The EUFOR-RD Congo Mission: success or failure?

5. Conclusion: The CURRENT situation

6. Literature and online sources

1. Introduction: “Africa is Burning!”

“Europe’s neighbouring house Africa is burning! Never forget, we have the responsibility to support and help Africa!”[1]

This is the recent verbal alert which Bono, the famous bandleader of U2 and also an engaged fighter for world and human development, voiced, during an interview with the German Sueddeutsche Zeitung. In his speech Bono is really concerned about the partly disastrous political, social and humanitarian situations in some parts of Africa south of the Sahara, while the European Union (EU) celebrates its 50th anniversary in Berlin. Although this supranational organization seems to have its own “midlife crises”[2] lots of decisive developmental issues have to be resolved, especially in Africa, which is actually loosing within the worlds globalization process.[3] In an international political arena of interdependency and globalization, failing and weak states, civil wars and the challenge of international terrorism, the EU and its partners have to take on further responsibility if they want to remain global players.[4] With the background of this framework of complex and post-modern international relationships in the 21st century the United Nations (UN) gave a very important African mandate to the EU: the observation of the presidential elections in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). The EU, a member of the international committee for transition (CIAT), has already been involved in the DRC process since 1996 and has also signed the Cotonou Agreement in 2002 to sustain the changes in the Great Lakes region.[5] Technical and financial support had yet been given, so it was almost logical that the EU would overtake this military mission as well. The operation adopted by Joint Action in order to support MONUC during the election was considered an autonomous EU led operation within the framework of European Security and Defence Policy (EDSP).[6] The “heart of darkness”[7], according to Josef Conrad’s (1857-1924) sombre and prejudiced description of this region, is, after decades of dictatorship and civil war, facing the difficult transition towards a stabile and democratic state system.[8] Therefore the so-called EUFOR-RD Congo mission was sent, commanded by Germany, to observe and control the fragile pre-electoral situation in the capital Kinshasa and the neighbouring state of Gabon. Together with the MONUC[9] mission under French direction, the EUFOR-RD Congo had to secure the elections and stabilize the country against sudden riots or possible assaults after and during the voting process.[10] Disarmament, demobilization, reintegration, respiration and resettlement are the main concepts of this peace-building mission of the UN, while the European forces merely had to control fairly democratic elections. After having played its first major military role in Kosovo and probably in Afghanistan[11], Germany as a political actor had to command its second crucial operation. For the unified country, together with the EU, is was of utmost importance to transform its former “Scheckbuchpolitik”[12] into a more realistic policy (Realpolitik), in order to become a serious and responsible actor in international relations. This was and sometimes still is a hard and shaky path for a formerly divided state with an extremely heavy historical burden, because a complete changing of its international policy and politics had been necessary. That is why in Germany every international operation is generally hotly discussed with participation (not only) on all political sides. Focussing on the EUFOR-RD Congo operation in 2006 there has been a wide and lively debate, filled with discrepancies, political polemics and a broad range of diverse opinions, across the whole social and political sphere.[13]

The following paper will focus on this political discussion surrounding the operation in the DRC, concentrating on the main political actors, the people and the German mass media. At the outset, it is useful to describe the history including the recent conflict in the DRC. It will be followed by an analysis of the German debate, accompanied by an illustration of the EUFOR-RD Congo Mission. Finally, the dossier is trying to answer the question whether the mission was generally successful or not and whether this has also changed opinions in Germany. The paper will conclude with a brief review of the recent situation in the DRC, referring back to the introduction and perhaps also finding an adequate answer to Bono’s logical and understandable warnings at the beginning.

But first of all, to understand the very complicated circumstances in the DRC, it makes sense to summarize its history and the recent conflict.

2. History and the recent conflict in the DRC

2.1 Historical overview from independence to the fall of Mobutu

With an area of 2,344,855 km² and a total population of circa 57, 550, 000 inhabitants[14] the DRC is one of the biggest countries in Africa south of the Sahara. Its nation has its roots within two predecessor states, the Congo-Freestate (1885-1908) and the Belgian-Congo (independence 1960). The Freestate was the private ownership of the Belgian king Leopold II, since the European hegemonic powers had assigned him to control the vast region in central Africa[15]. The governor exploited his private ownership (10 million people died during the torturous era) until an international campaign for human rights forced the king to cede his power to Belgium. Nationalism and movements against colonialism forced Belgium to accept the independence of the renamed DRC in 1960[16]. During the first and, for a long time, last free and pluralistic elections in May 1960, the people elected Patrice Lumumba (Mouvement National Congolais MLC) as first prime minister and Joseph Kasavubo (Alliance des Bakongo ABAKO) as president of the state[17]. That short, quick and harsh transition phase led directly to a quasi civil war status, accompanied by the assassination of Lumumba[18], two attempts of secession in Katanga and Kasai and an extended intervention of the UN[19]. On 24th November 1965, strongly supported by the U.S. and Belgium, the Congolese commander in-chief Joseph Mobutu started his coup d´ètât in order to create a centralized and authoritarian regime.[20] The general’s main aim was to install an extremely personalized and centralized dictatorship without pluralism and opposition, to strengthen the young nation’s identity and stability. After having eliminated his political opponents, Mobutu constructed a mono-party system with his Mouvement Populaire de la Révolution (MPR). The institutions of the DRC became organs of the ruling hegemonic party bearing a network of clienteles, partimonialism and corruption[21]. Mobutu’s dictatorship - from 1971-1997 the DRC was named Zaïre – was roughly based on corruption, repression and a much expanded rentierstate economy. Another crucial aspect concerning foreign policy was Mobutu’s navigation between the two blocs during the Cold War, an ability he knew well to exploit. The end of the war, an economic decline of Zaïre and also some rebellions in the big country, forced the dictator to liberalize his political system without loosing all his power. The political progress and process of transformation he pretended to create was a disaster whereby neighbouring states (Rwanda and Uganda) initiated a violent revolution, the so-called Alliance des Forces Démocratiques pour la Libération du Congo (AFDL) lead by Laurent Kabila.[22] In the end the alliance managed to gain power, Mobutu fled into exile in 1997[23] and the new head of state Laurent Kabila permitted a second real democratic transformation process.

A deceptive peace began in 1997 which should merely last for less than one year[24].

2.2 The transition process 1997-2006

Kabila did not keep his promises, instead he continued the authoritarian way of Mobutu at least at a more moderate level. In August 1998 a new instable rebellion broke out, maintained by Rwanda and Uganda[25], to fight against the new/old regime in Kinshasa. On the other side Angola and Zimbabwe intervened to help Kabila, while the new rebellion movement split into several rival militias, because Rwanda and Uganda became enemies and they began to assist different guerrilla movements in the DRC. The biggest regional African conflict afflicted parts of the country, with an international participation of Rwanda, Uganda, Burundi, Zimbabwe, Angola and Namibia. The military deadlock, lead to an armistice in 2001, whose stabilization was observed by the MONUC mission with more than 17,000 UN soldiers[26]. The murder of Laurent Kabila in 2001, followed by his son Joseph, and lasting international pressure forced all foreign powers to leave the country immediately. The Pretoria treaties - South Africa and Botswana had been looking for a peaceful solution since 1998 – summoned a transitional government including rebellion troops to organize elections by summer 2006. Although having gotten that new initiative on a national platform, the regional conflicts like in Itury[27] still continued, strengthened by ethnical clashes for example between Tutsi and Hutu and transnational rivalries between Rwanda, Uganda and Burundi. The former authoritarian political system of Mobutu and its resurrection under Laurent Kabila have slowly been changing for the last few years under the leadership of Joseph Kabila. The dictatorships haunting like historical ghosts the transition process partly covered the intensive post-independence debates concerning centralism, federalism and the whole political system. While the transformation went on, the discussions surrounding regional loyalties, autonomy and secession especially in the provinces of Kasai, Katanga, Bas-Congo and Kivu commenced again.[28] Mobilization of (sometimes also pseudo) ethnic identities, within a phase of open political competition, the huge ethnic fragmentation, and inter and intra ethnic conflicts have been permanently menacing the transition of the country. The polarizing ideologies of autochthony causing violent tensions for example in Kivu 1992 and Kasai 1993 have been enduring until now and are creating further conflicts and/or nationwide or regional discrepancies. Some of the news Congolese parties – former militias – have intensive problems to form a national party structure while others are unable to give up their military branch. Human rights are also regularly and systematically violated, even if it is not as drastic as it was during the Mobutu and “Kabila the first” periods.[29]

In 2006 the DRC, albeit rich of raw materials like uranium, gold, cobalt and so on, is still one of the poorest and least developed countries in the world. There are lots of critical issues to deal with in order to become more than a weak or almost failing state. For this reason 2006 was one of the decisive years within the political process because firstly a new constitution was passed and secondly the long planned elections took place. More details about these two highly crucial political elements, closely connected with the main topic of the paper, are mentioned in the following chapter.


[1] (Quoted from: Bono in an Interview for: Sueddeutsche Zeitung, P.3; 23.03.2007; Munich 2007)

[2] (The Economist (special): The EU and its Midlife Crises, P.1; March 2007; New York 2007)

[3] (Compare: World Bank: Human Development Report 2006; Washington 2006)

[4] (Hesse, Christine: Informationen zur politischen Bildung: Sicherheitspolitik im 21.Jahrhundert, P.3-5; N. 2/2006; Berlin 2006)

[5] (

[6] (

[7] (Hannah Arendt: Elemente und Ursprünge totaler Herrschaft. P. 407f; (TB) 1986, 2005)

[8] (Gentili, Anna - Maria: Sovranità e democrazia: Dove va il Colgo?, P.140-143; in: Zamponi, Mario (Ed.): Afriche e Orienti; N. 1/2 2004; San Marino 2004)

[9] ( Mission de l’Organisation des Nations Unies en République Démocratique de Congo)

[10] (Gourou, Pierre: The Democratic Republic of the Congo, P.295f; in: Africa South of the Sahara 2007; London 2007)

[11] (The author: Although Germany took over responsibility considering ISAAF operation in Afghanistan, this mission is lead by NATO which means that the Germans doesn’t play the main role.)

[12] (Andersen, Uwe: Deutschlands Entwicklungspolitik im internationalen Vergleich, P.67; in: Hesse Christiane (Ed.): Informationen zur politischen Bildung: Entwicklungshilfe und Entwicklungspolitik; N.1/2005; Berlin 2005)

[13] (Schadomsky, Lodger: Die Diskussion um den Bundeswehreinsatz in der DR Kongo; Berlin 2007;;)

[14] (UN, World Population Prospects: The 2004 Revision; New York 2004)

[15] (Young, C.; Turner, T.: Rise and Decline of the Zairian State; 1985)

[16] (Calaghy, Tom: From Reshaping to Resizing a Failing State? The Case of the Congo/Zaire, in: Callaghy, T. (Ed.): Rightsizing the State. The politics of moving Borders; London 2001)

[17] (Doom, Ruddy: Piccolo è etico? Il Belgio e la regione dei Grandi Laghi. P.20-29; in: Zamponi, Mario (ed.): Afriche e Orienti; San Marino 2004)

[18] I./O, Leary; Callaghy Tom (Ed.): Rightsizing the State. The politics of moving Borders, p102-137; London 2001)

[19] (Gourou, P. 297)

[20] (Vlassenroot, Koen: I molti volti delle ribellioni nella RDC; P 4-19; in: Zamponi, Mario (Ed.): Afriche e Orienti; san Marino 2004)

[21] (Tull Dennis. M.: Demokratische Republik Kongo; P.61-64; in: Hofmeier, Rolf; Mehler, Andreas: Kleines Afrika Lexikon; Bonn 2004)

[22] (Leloup, Bernard: La RDC in relazione al contenzioso tra Ruanda e Uganda; P.36-49; in: Zamponi, Mario (ed.): Afriche e Orienti; san Marino 2004)

[23] (He died in 1997)

[24] (Vlassenroot, P.4-19)

[25] (Leloup, P36-39)

[26] (Gourou, P.300-302)

[27] (Pottier, Johan: Terra e conflitto nella regione di Ituri; P. 52-68; in: Zamponi, Mario (Ed.): Afriche e Orienti; San Marino 2004)

[28] (Morvan, Hélène: Il movimento mayi-mayi a Bunyakir; P.104-119; in: Zamponi,. Mario (Ed.): Afriche e Orienti; San Marino 2004)

[29] (Callaghy, Tom.: From Reshaping to Resizing a Failing State)

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The Democratic Republic of the Congo and the debate in Germany concerning EUFOR RD Congo Mission
University of Bologna
Political Development in Least developed Countries
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ISBN (Book)
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The paper focusses on the recent situation and the history of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, describing also the EU mission in 2006, the transition process and the debate in Germany concerning the EUFOR RD Congo mission. Diese Hausarbeit konzentriert sich auf die Demokratische Republik Kongo, die aktuelle Situation, die Geschichte des Landes, sowie eine analyse der EU Mission 2006 und die hitzige Debatte die sich dabei auch im Deutschen Bundestag abgespielt hat.
Democratic, Republic, Congo, Germany, EUFOR, Congo, Mission, Political, Development, Least, Countries, Lumumba, Mobutu, Zentralafrika, Central Africa, Angola, Kongo, Rwanda / Ruanda, Burundi, Krieg, Konflikt, War
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Stefan Plenk (Author), 2007, The Democratic Republic of the Congo and the debate in Germany concerning EUFOR RD Congo Mission, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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