While Congolese waited for the presidential election results last month, I heard several half-truths about Congo. The one that has stuck with me happens to be a favorite among Western diplomats. “Kinshasa is not Congo,” they say, commenting on the east-west tension surrounding President Joseph Kabila’s candidacy. Their premise is sound, but their conclusion is wrong. Kinshasa, which lies in the country’s far west, is the gate to Congo, and whoever holds the key to the city controls national politics. With more than 7 million residents and 12 percent of voters, the capital is also the country’s most ethnically integrated [...]
NAIROBI, Kenya — “Hope” is not a word used often among political and security analysts. In the face of past violence and potential genocide, it is even more rare. Yet analysts have used the term in recent forecasts of what lay ahead for the Democratic Republic of Congo, a country that held its first democratic elections in four decades a month ago. Still, serious challenges remain. The open availability of small arms, unequal distribution of local resources, the political influence of foreign contractors and combatants, and, not least, the behavior of local armed factions, will also shape the future of [...]
Although both China and Africa were home to two of the world’s oldest civilizations, each dating back more than 6,000 years, China has only recently discovered the true value of Africa. China’s initial forays on the continent, during the 1960s and 1970s, were driven by political ideology and thus inherently limited in scope and duration. Today, the basis of the Sino-African relationship has evolved from politics to economics. “China explicitly stated that they were going to shift their focus away from ideology in 1996,” says Christopher Alden, senior lecturer in international relations at the London School of Economics. A major [...]
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