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Research Report

Strengthening governance in a post-conflict district of the Democratic Republic of Congo:: a study of Ituri

Louise Anten
Copyright Date: Jul. 1, 2010
Published by: Clingendael Institute
Pages: 49
OPEN ACCESS
https://www.jstor.org/stable/resrep05550

Table of Contents

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  1. (pp. None)
  2. (pp. None)
  3. (pp. i-ii)
  4. (pp. 1-2)

    This report is based on desk study and a field visit to Ituri district (3–12 May 2010) by the author. The field visit was facilitated by IKV Pax Christi Netherlands and the Reseau Haki na Amani (RHA) in Ituri.

    The study is one of five country studies that contribute to a larger research project, ‘Strengthening Governance in Post-Conflict Fragile States’, with the other country studies focusing on Afghanistan, Pakistan, Guatemala and Kosovo. The project is part of a research programme being undertaken by the Clingendael Conflict Research Unit within the framework of its cooperation with the Netherlands Ministry of...

  5. (pp. 3-4)

    In general terms this research assesses to what extent the Issues Paper ‘Strengthening Governance in Post-Conflict Fragile States’ is helpful in the analysis of the governance challenges in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Preliminary desk study indicated that the issues of the political order and the type of conflict are particularly relevant in the case of Congo. The conflicts in Congo affected mainly the eastern part of the country, and in fact are still ongoing in the Kivu provinces, while only in Ituri District could one speak of a post-conflict situation. Furthermore, local factors, including access to land, appear...

  6. (pp. 5-6)

    The current governance situation in Congo decidedly retains characteristics of the earlier political orders in colonial times and the Mobutu era. Mobutu Sese Seko, who ruled the country (then called Zaïre) from 1965 to 1997, succeeded in keeping the large and heterogeneous country together and free from mass violence over a period of 30 years, in contrast to what happened in many of its neighbour states (Eriksen 2009). He did this mainly by co-opting opposition groups into the existing state. It was a neo-patrimonial, clientelistic, predatory political order with a full buy-in of all opposition forces. Mobutu initially managed to...

  7. (pp. 7-8)

    From 1996 to 2006 – when Joseph Kabila became the first democratically elected president of the DRC – Congo was ravaged by widespread violence, which involved three Congolese rebel movements, 14 foreign armed groups and countless militias, and destabilized most of Central Africa (Autesserre 2008). In 2001 the United Nations (UN) dispatched what was to become its largest peacekeeping mission, MONUC. A peace settlement was reached in 2003, paving the way for elections in 2006. Nevertheless, violence and conflicts have continued to this day, especially in the Kivu provinces.

    The main reason for the failure of the peace-building strategy is...

  8. (pp. 9-12)

    Since the 2006 elections the security situation in the DRC has stabilized although it remains fragile. Currently, western DRC is relatively stable, with conditions allowing development and further peace-building. In the Kivus and parts of Orientale Province foreign and Congolese armed groups remain a source of insecurity, despite important gains made in 2009. In the Uélé districts in Orientale Province, attacks by the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) against civilians continue. In Equateur Province, the Congolese army,³ with limited support from MONUC, responded to an insurgency which erupted at the end of October 2009. Across the country, elements of the national...

  9. (pp. 13-16)

    Ituri is one of four districts of Oriental Province in the north-east of the DRC, bordering Uganda and Sudan. The 2005 constitutional provisions for decentralization foresee that Ituri will become one of 26 provinces. Ituri District, whose capital is Bunia, covers an area of 65,658 km² and estimates of its population range between 4 million and 6.6 million.⁵ It is divided into 5 territories (Aru, Mahagi, Djugu, Irumu and Mambasa), 45 collectivités and 5 cités. Mahagi and Djugu are the most densely populated territories, with respectively 335 and 267 inhabitants/km² (RCN Justice et Démocratie 2009). Ethnically the population is very...

  10. (pp. 17-20)

    The current governance situation in Ituri is influenced by a number of historical and structural factors – the ‘underlying’ factors – that shape the transformation processes affecting the district over the years. The legacy of historical national governance systems has already been sketched (Chapter 3), as has the history of war in eastern Congo (Chapter 4). In this chapter some implications for the current governance situation in Ituri will be explored.

    Governance in Ituri is marked by the historical entrenchment of profound horizontal inequalities between the Hema and Lendu population groups in Irumu and Djugu territories.

    Since the settlement of...

  11. (pp. 21-26)

    In addition to the foundational factors highlighted in Chapter 7, the war itself and the way peace was restored left some legacies with implications that have lasted until the present day.

    In essence the Ituri war of 1998–2003 started in response to persistent inequalities between the Lendus and the Hemas which increasingly threatened the livelihood and survival of the Lendus. It was not so much a question of either greed or grievance, as the struggle for survival. Restrictions on the access to land, the primary means of economic survival, triggered the war. Once the war had begun, other conflict...

  12. (pp. 27-32)

    The fact that land conflicts continue is due to inadequate formal and informal rules, and weak formal agencies. These weaknesses persist because they are an integral part of the workings of the political marketplace. The mechanisms responsible for making it so difficult to resolve land conflicts are explained below.

    The legal imbroglio that has reigned since Mobutu’s issuance in 1973 of incomplete new legislation in land matters, serves the interests of the stronger players in the market by reducing the land security of the vast majority of rural farmers. The 1973 Bakajika land law did away with people’s automatic right...

  13. (pp. 33-36)

    Any political marketplace is inherently unstable, and responds to any changes in the market conditions. In this chapter a number of expected changes in the Ituri context will be explored for their potential impact on the political marketplace.

    In response to the wishes of President Kabila, the UN decided that MONUC should become a stabilization mission (MONUSCO) in June 2010, when up to 2,000 troops were to be withdrawn from the west of the country. The peacekeeping was to continue in the east, and future drawdowns were to be guided by a joint monitoring mechanism. News about the MONUC drawdown...

  14. (pp. 37-38)

    The recent reactions to preparations for MONUC’s withdrawal from Ituri district, in the form of increased militia activity, return of militia leaders and anxiety among population and leaders, may function as a wake-up call that stability in Ituri can still not be taken for granted. As a result, leaders may be inspired to take the necessary steps towards achieving a lasting political solution to the lingering conflicts that are nowadays mainly local in character.

    Conflicts in Ituri have always centred on the access to local economic resources. Economic tensions fed politically motivated hostilities, and vice versa. Access to resources meant...

  15. (pp. 39-42)