Contentious Politics and Social Change in Congo
Odette Boya Resta
Johns Hopkins University - Bologna Center
Security Dialogue, Vol. 32, No. 1, pp. 71-85, March 2001
This paper begins by tracing the disintegration of the Congolese state (Democratic Republic of Congo) over three decades under Mobutu Sese Seko. The failed democratic transition of the 1990s was a process that exposed deep cleavages among the Congolese political class that culminated in a power vacuum filled by the Kabila regime in 1997. Since the advent of the new Kabila government foreign elements have 'had their way,' so to speak, with Congo in ways reminiscent of the years of the Belgian King's fiefdom and subsequent colonial period. The war which began in 1998 - and has wrought the ravaging of Congo's human and material resources by foreign elements both African and non-African - stems largely from the Congolese state's inability to protect itself, the most essential function of a nation-state. Thus state-building and peace-building must go hand in hand in Congo. In this paper Charles Tilly's model of 'contentious politics' is applied to the current Congo conflict. The article concludes with an assessment of the 1999 Lusaka Peace Agreement, a document that aims to address peace-building and state-building simultaneously as complementary notions, indeed a challenge for many post-conflict nations. The article asks the question: do peace agreements by themselves represent viable paths forward for the political development of countries emerging from conflict or, in the case of Congo, is there a need for a broad and popular consensus and a comprehensive national security program to end the devastating war?
Number of Pages in PDF File: 15
Keywords: Democratic Republic of Congo, Congo, Zaire, Conflict, Peace, Africa, War, State, Peace-building, State-building, Resources, Kabila, Mobutu
JEL Classification: D74, H56, K33, N47, N57Accepted Paper Series
Date posted: October 10, 2005
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