According to ACT-TEST-CENTERS, the war that from 1996 to 2003 bloodied the Democratic Republic of Democratic Republic of the Congo caused about four million victims: an impressive figure destined to rise due to the conflicts that still in 2005they tore apart the northeastern provinces. The magnitude of the crisis has prompted international observers to define the Congolese conflict as the ‘First African World War’ both for the number of nations involved, Rwanda and Uganda in the first place, but also Angola, Burundi, Zimbabwe, Namibia, and for the strategic and economic interests – the country, in fact, is very rich in raw materials (coltan, gold, diamonds) – and, finally, for the exacerbation of dramatic tensions that had upset the whole Great Lakes region during the nineties (in the first place the Rwandan genocide).
In the summer of 1999, a first agreement was signed in Lusaka (Zambia) for an immediate ceasefire which was joined by all the rebel factions, admitted to the negotiating table for the first time, and the foreign countries involved: Rwanda and Uganda, supporters of the two main and opposing rebel formations, and Angola, Namibia and Zimbabwe, allies of President L.-D. Kabila. At the end of the year, however, the failure to respect the peace agreements led to a new worsening of the situation in the Republic, in which a United Nations peacekeeping mission (MONUC) had been operating since November. In January 2001In unclear circumstances, President Kabila was killed by one of his bodyguards and the leadership of the country was hired in the same month by his son Joseph. As soon as he came to power, the young Kabila declared that he wanted to fully commit himself to national pacification by opening a dialogue with internal oppositions and achieving separate peace with Rwanda and Uganda, the two neighboring states most heavily involved in the Congolese civil war.. Difficult negotiations culminated in the July 2002 agreements with Rwanda and September with Uganda. The peace with Rwanda, signed in Pretoria (South African Republic), marked a decisive turning point towards the peaceful solution of the conflict: if on the one hand the Rwandan president P.20,000 men), on the other hand Kabila took on the commitment to disarm the Hutu Interahamwe militias, responsible for the 1994 Rwandan genocide, present on its territory. The agreement, of great importance for the future of the Democratic Republic of Democratic Republic of the Congo, seemed momentarily to curb Rwanda’s aspirations to exert a function of pressure and control over the eastern provinces of the neighboring country. The subsequent agreement with Uganda, signed in Luanda, the capital of Angola, stipulated the terms of the withdrawal of the Ugandan troops who should have left the country by October 2003.
On the domestic front, in December, Kabila and the main opposition groups signed a power-sharing agreement which confirmed the president in office but stipulated that the four positions of vice-presidency were divided between the government, civil society and the two main rebel groups, the Rassemblement congolais pour la démocratie-Goma (RCD-Goma), supported by Rwanda, and the Mouvement pour la libération du Congo (MLC), supported by Uganda. Nonetheless, in early 2003, despite the agreements reached and the ongoing negotiations between the government and rebel forces (Inter-Congolese National Dialogue), the conflict continued in the north-eastern provinces (Ituri, Kivu), the richest in the country, where, among other things, there had been episodes of illegal exploitation of the subsoil involving ministers and officials from Zimbabwe, Rwanda and Uganda. The fighting affected the surroundings and the city of Bunia, the capital of the Ituri region, where the Ugandan troops were still stationed. Meanwhile, the population was being decimated by hunger and disease, the main causes of death.
In the first days of April 2003, the peace talks of the Inter-Congolese National Dialogue, which had begun over nineteen months earlier, closed in Sun City (South African Republic). The treaty, signed in the country that had played a leading role in the whole peace process, was to lead to the first democratic and multi-party elections. On 7 April Kabila was sworn in as president (in office for two years, and renewable for another) of the transitional government envisaged by the new Constitution and formally appointed at the beginning of July, with representatives of the RCD-Goma and of the MLDemocratic Republic of the Congo.
During 2004, tension escalated in Kivu, on the border with Rwanda, where in June rebel soldiers backed by Rwandan troops besieged the city of Bukavu. For the regular army it was almost impossible to exercise a control function in those areas of the country where the opposing rebel factions linked to Uganda and Rwanda, the local Mai Mai guerrilla bands and other groups continued to operate undisturbed. In March 2005, MONUC went on the offensive in Ituri, in response to the murder of nine blue helmets, and in October the mission was reconfirmed for another year and expanded again, so that in December the contingent exceeded 16,000 unity, becoming one of the most demanding peace operations of the UN. In the meantime, the democratization process continued in the country and in May 2005 the two chambers approved the text of a new constitution submitted to a popular referendum in December of the same year and approved by a very large majority (over 80 % of the votes); the charter established the direct election of the president, administrative decentralization, the bicameral parliament and the establishment of the Constitutional Court.