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Rassemblement congolais pour la democratie (RCD)

The Rassemblement Congolais pour la Démocratie (RCD - Congolese Rally for Democracy) was the main rebel group fighting to overthrow President Kabila. The RCD (Congolese Rally for Democracy) was initially a front made up of three political tendencies: Mobutist conservative resistance, anti-Kabila AFDL resistance and democratic resistance. The Rassemblement Congolais pour la Democratie, RCD, or Congolese Party for Democracy in English, ruled North Kivu as a proxy of the Rwandan Government from 1998-2003.

It was split into two factions, with RCD-Kisangani [Congolese Rally for Democracy-Liberation Movement - RCD-ML] led by the movement's former president Ernest Wamba dia Wamba, and the mainstream RCD-Goma initially led by the new president Emile Ilunga. The former is said to be backed by Uganda, the latter by Rwanda.

RCD/Kisangani grew out of RCD/Goma which was created in August 1998. The process of separation took place over a series of months, essentially from November 1998 through May 1999 when it became clear that: The Rwanda government and some key members of RCD/Goma were more interested in a simple physical removal of Laurent-Désiré Kabila. The period from November 1998 through May 19, 1999 was marked by various attempts of physically liquidating Professor Wamba-dia-Wamba and/or politically undercut and undermine his powers as a leader.

On 20 May 1999 the RCD named medical doctor Emile Ilunga as its new leader after Ernest Wamba dia Wamba was ousted on Sunday. The change was announced after a special congress of 50 RCD founder members and 22 military commanders in the their capital Goma, the Rwanda News Agency (RNA) reported. It said the aim of the congress was to solve an internal power struggle which intensified two months ago, culminating in Wamba transferring his base from Goma to Kisangani. Another top official, Lunda Bululu, was also ousted from the leadership. Matters came to a head when the Lusaka Cease Fire Agreement was drafted and presented to all the protagonists as the process through which the war could be brought to an end. In July 1999, the representatives of states engaged in the war and leaders of the rebellion went to Lusaka to sign the Cease Fire Agreement, but instead of allowing all leaders to sign, obstacles were raised so as to prevent Professor Wamba-dia-Wamba from signing. This was the context which prevailed and led to the 7-17 August 1999 military attempt to annihilate Professor Wamba-dia-Wamba and his group. The attempt failed

Representatives of RCD/Kisangani and RCD/Goma finally signed the Cease Fire Agreement on August 31st 1999. However, the formal separation between RCD/Goma and RCD/Kisangani did not mean that the process of clarifying the meaning of the rebellion was over. The so-called merger between the MLC and RCD/Kisangani was forced as a way of imposing a new leadership in the area controlled by RCD/Kisangani. It was a way of reimposing Mbusa and Tibasima eventhough they had self-excluded themselves from RCD/Kisangani. As far as RCD/Kisangani is concerned, this merger ddid not exist. It led to the resumption of the Hema-Lendu interethnic conflict. While Rwanda clearly ran the RCD and, through the RCD, the Kivus, they had not altered the basic Congolese structure of governance. There is no obvious displacement of Congolese institutions by Rwandan institutions, which might be expected if Rwanda's plans include future annexation of the Kivus, as some believed.

RCD-Goma Chairman Adolphe Onusumba Yemba, signed a peace pact at the Inter Congolese Dialogue closing ceremony in Sun City, South Africa, Wednesday, April 2, 2003. The milestone pact in pursuit of peace and democracy in the war-torn Democtratic Republic of Congo (DRC) provides for the establishment of a two-year transitional government to guide the DRC to its first democratic elections in 40 years. Congolese Rally for Democracy (RCD) leaders Adolphe Onusumba and Olivier Kamitatu signed on behalf of Congolese Liberation Movement (MLC) leader Jean-Pierre Bemba, who did not attend, aides said because he was suffering from lumbago.

Since the signing of the Pretoria Accord in Sun City, various militias backed by Uganda and Rwanda, including the RCD remained in low-level conflict in eastern DRC. This violence continued throughout 2005 and 2006. This conflict has not significantly disrupted the rest of the country or uprooted the government in Kinshasa. Still, such violence has prevented the country from realizing full peace.

The literal meaning of "Rwandophone" is someone who speaks Kinyarwanda, the common language of Hutus and Tutsis in Rwanda, as well as in parts of eastern DRC and southern Uganda. For the purpose of analysis, "Rwandophone" is defined as anyone resident in the DRC with Rwandan ancestry. This category includes Hutus and Tutsis who settled in the Kivus several centuries ago, as well as Hutus and Tutsis who emigrated to the Kivus in the 20th century. It does not include Interahamwe (genocidaires) elements who fled Rwanda in connection with the 1994 genocide and who subsequently became the FDLR.

Since the early 2009 rapprochement between Kinshasa and Kigali, there was great focus on the phenomenon of Rwandophone ascendancy in North Kivu to the detriment of other ethnic groups. Much has been reported about the different aspects (political, economic, and security) of the apparent power grab by Rwandophone elements in the province. It was indisputable that there is a new paradigm in North Kivu, and there were those who benefited from the changes and those who have been disadvantaged. This phenomenon was not, however, a return to the 1998-2003 period of RCD government in North Kivu. Although Rwandophones were again assuming key positions, the government in Kinshasa, in close cooperation with the Government of Rwanda, was in control of the provincial government in North Kivu and both governments understand that they need the support of all ethnic groups if there was to be peace and stability in North Kivu.

Although the decentralization process does not foresee a division of North Kivu ("decoupage" in French), the constitution does allow for additional territorial realignments, e.g., the "decoupage" of North Kivu into a Nande-dominated Grand Nord and a Rwandophone-dominated Petit Nord (or "Grand Sud" as some now characterize it). North Kivu's "Grand Nord" was a separate province during the 1998-2003 war.

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Page last modified: 21-11-2012 18:50:39 ZULU