Skip to Main Content
Have library access? Log in through your library
Research Report


Copyright Date: Aug. 1, 2015
Pages: 71
  • Cite this Item

Table of Contents

  1. (pp. 6-8)

    The Great Lakes region – focused largely around Burundi, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Rwanda, and Uganda – is central not only to Africa’s geography but also to continental security and governance. In addition, the region has long been a site of global intervention in Africa, beginning with colonialism, which influenced both the region’s borders and its ethnic divides. More recently, it has been a theatre for peacekeeping operations (such as the United Nations Organisation Stabilisation Mission in the DRC [MONUSCO], as well as the African Union Mission in Burundi [AMIB]), peace enforcement missions (such as the European...

  2. (pp. 9-13)

    The ultimate aim in the Great Lakes region is the achievement of a durable peace in which its 127 million citizens can live their daily lives without fear. Conflicts over power, ethnic identity, citizenship, land, and mineral and other economic resources have fuelled violence in the Great Lakes,⁷ including the 1972 Burundian genocide, in which between 200,000 and 300,000 people were killed;⁸ and the 1994 Rwandan genocide, in which an estimated 800,000 people were killed.⁹ Persistent insecurity in the DRC has resulted in over three million deaths. Seven other African states (Angola, Burundi, Chad, Namibia, Rwanda, Uganda, and Zimbabwe) fought...

  3. (pp. 14-18)

    The Congolese state does not enjoy widespread legitimacy among its 68 million citizens. This is particularly problematic as planned local and presidential elections approach in October 2015 and November 2016, respectively. 16 President Joseph Kabila is constitutionally prohibited from running for a third term, but may seek to do so, or to prolong his stay in power by delaying elections. Many observers believe that the DRC does not have the procedures and infrastructure in place to hold effective local government elections. The problems include the fact that anyone not registered in the 2011 elections will not be eligible to vote...

  4. (pp. 19-23)

    In May 2015, Burundi was scheduled to hold legislative and communal elections, followed by a first-round of presidential polls a month later. 33 These would be the third elections since the 2000 Arusha agreement that formally ended the phase of the country’s civil war that started in 1993 and killed an estimated 300,000 people. 34 (The last armed faction in Burundi, the National Forces of Liberation, did not lay down its arms until 2006.) In large part due to an opposition boycott in the 2010 elections, President Pierre Nkurunziza’s National Council for the Defence of Democracy – Forces for the...

  5. (pp. 24-27)

    While it is easier to criticise them when they violate the sovereignty of other countries, respect for sovereignty should not continue to deflect attention from domestic repression in both countries. Uganda and Rwanda are formally multi-party democracies with elections approaching in 2016 and 2017, respectively. However, they are both effectively dominated by a single party, with long-serving leaders, Yoweri Museveni and Paul Kagame, who have taken steps to restrict effective internal dissent in their respective countries. 58

    In only 21 years since the 1994 genocide, Rwanda has become touted as an example of successful development and an “island of stability”...

  6. (pp. 28-32)

    For example, the African Union began deploying the first wholly African peacekeeping operation, AMIB, in Burundi in February 2003; South Africa was instrumental to the dialogue that created a new Congolese government in July 2003; and the MONUSCO intervention brigade deployed from August 2013, was credited with progress against rebel groups in the eastern Congo, and remains led and staffed by SADC personnel.

    South Africa has long played a role in peacebuilding efforts in the Great Lakes region. In Burundi, President Nelson Mandela took over the facilitation of the Arusha peace process in 1999 after the death of the former...

  7. (pp. 33-37)

    While the discussion here focuses on the UN and the EU, other external actors such as China, the New Development Bank of the Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa (BRICS) bloc, and the US should also be kept in mind.

    In July 2014, the UN appointed Said Djinnit as its Special Envoy to the Great Lakes Region, replacing Ireland’s Mary Robinson, the first UN Great Lakes envoy, who had served in the position since March 2013. As with the AU, a key focus of the UN envoy’s work is to support the Peace, Security, and Cooperation Framework.

    The United...

  8. (pp. 40-41)

    The policy advisory group seminar held by CCR in the Western Cape in May 2015 on “Security and Governance in the Great Lakes Region” was held at a time of significant upheaval in the region. Burundi’s President Pierre Nkurunziza had just formally declared that he would seek a third presidential term, thus deepening the unrest in Burundi; the Democratic Republic of the Congo was moving forward with plans to hold local elections and re-draw its provincial borders; and the future of MONUSCO was uncertain. This context contributed to the timeliness of discussions at the seminar, but it was inevitable that...