Great Lakes Region
Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC)
Since the re-election of President Joseph Kabilas in 2011, the President and his coalition have continued to dominate the political development in the DRC, with the opposition remaining marginalised due to the ongoing restriction of political freedoms on the one hand and internal conflict on the other. At the end of the national dialogue process that was initiated by the government in September 2013 – which, however, does not involve the most prominent opposition politicians – President Kabila announced the swift appointment of a unity government, a promise that to date has remained unfulfilled.
In the light of the intense efforts on the part of the UN to promote peace, security and cooperation in the Great Lakes Region, the UNSC has extended the United Nations Organisation Stabilisation Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO) by resolution 2098 (2013), also setting up an intervention brigade for neutralising armed groups. The uprising of the "M23" rebel group, which had begun in April 2012, was pushed back in November 2013 by government troops and the MONUSCO intervention brigade. According to the UN expert report, "M23" received support from the neighbouring countries of Rwanda and Uganda, although both nations have vociferously denied this. However, dozens of other armed rebel groups in the eastern part of the country, weak government structures and the halting progress of urgent political reforms continue to pose a threat to the stability of large areas of this enormous country, in particular the Kivu Provinces in East Congo. The extraction of the country’s rich natural resources also plays an important role in this context.
After a series of summits of the "International Conference of the Great Lakes Region" (ICGLR) in 2012, a Framework Agreement of the ICGLR nations (11+4) on cross-border cooperation was signed in Addis Ababa in the presence of UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon on 24 February 2013.
The EU also wants to contribute towards the stabilisation of the country with two civilian CSDP missions: Mission EUPOL RD Congo supports the training of police staff and judicial officers, while EUSEC RD Congo (in which the Austrian army also participates) aims at supporting military reform.
President Museveni and his NRM party (National Resistance Movement) have been in power since 1986 and continue to rule, with the presidency assuming somewhat autocratic traits in recent years. Corruption continues to pose a massive problem, also for the international donor community. The anti-homosexual legislation in Uganda is problematic both from the point of view of domestic politics and human rights. As the fighting in East Congo goes on, the influx of refugees from the Kivu Provinces in the Democratic Republic of Congo into south-western Uganda continues. The situation in South Sudan and the rekindled fighting between the Dinka and Murle ethnic groups in Jonglei State have further increased the number of refugees in Uganda.
Burundi remains a post-conflict nation that is predominantly dependent on donors, where the process of coming to terms with the decade-long, ethnically motivated civil wars that have ravaged the country has so far barely started. The governing party Conseil national pour la défense de la démocratie/Forces pour la défense de la démocratie (CNDD-FDD) has a tight grip on the country and enjoys great support among the population, especially in rural areas, largely due to the absence of any opposition. The government has shown itself uncooperative when it comes to revisiting past war crimes or confronting political opposition, media and NGOs. The political climate in the country – somewhat tense anyway – is further aggravated by demographic pressure, scarcity of land and the complete lack of a functioning economy.
The parliamentary elections of September 2013, which as expected ended in a clear victory for the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF), once again confirmed the dominance of President Paul Kagame’s party. Human Rights NGOs have repeatedly noted shortfalls in civilian and political rights in Rwanda. However, on a positive note, the genocide ideology law from 2008 that in the past has repeatedly been used to nip any opposition in the bud was finally watered down after many years’ debate in August. New media laws have also done away with some of the restrictions imposed on journalists in Rwanda.