Congo peace treaty or roadmap to balkanization?
KPFA Evening News, 02.23.2013
A peace treaty for the Democratic Republic of the Congo is scheduled to be signed on February 24th, but is it making way for peace or for the balkanization of the mineral rich D.R.C.?
KPFA Weekend News Anchor Cameron Jones: A peace treaty for the undeclared war in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, which was resumed last year by the Rwandan and Ugandan-backed and commanded M23 militia, is now scheduled to be signed on February 24th. However, some critics say that the peace treaty is really a roadmap for the division of mineral rich eastern Congo into separate countries, or even free trade zones, for the convenience of Western mining companies. KPFA's Ann Garrison spoke to Congolese mining researcher Jean Didier Lozango, one of the many Africa advocates who believe that the borders of the D.R.C. must remain intact, for the sake of both Congo and Africa.
KPFA/Ann Garrison: Congolese mining researcher Jean Didier Losango is now based in Johannesburg, South Africa, where he is pursuing a doctoral degree in sustainable development, but he recently returned from doing research sponsored by the University of Berlin, in Katanga Province, the most mineral rich province in his homeland, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, or D.R.C.
Like many Congolese people, Losango speaks English, French, and African languages fluently. His English needs no translation, but because he has a strong French accent, and because the Congolese provinces he speaks of are distant and unfamiliar, I'm simply going to repeat his statements to KPFA about why the Democratic Republic of the Congo must resist being divided.
Jean Didier Lozango: We don't want to get this country divided. Decentralization is good, but we are not ready for decentralization. Federalism is good, but we are not ready for that. So people still have to learn about all those things before. In the meantime, while we are learning about all that, we must keep the country united.
If Katanga is one country, Kivu is one country, I'm telling you NO. And my question is 'why people want only those provinces like Katanga to be independent?' The DRC has 11 provinces, but why do people only focus on these provinces?
Katanga, and North-South Kivu? And they forget about Equateur, Bandudu, and Kasai, which are also part of the DRC provinces. Because they have interests there. There are minerals there and they have to control them. So they are pushing this agenda to have this part of the DRC out of the DRC.
Jean Didier Lozango: So why only Katanga? Because copper and cobalt are there. Why only North and South Kivu? Because coltan is there. Why only Orientale Province? Because gold is there.
KPFA: And that was Jean Didier Losango, Congolese mining researcher, on the peace treaty for the Democratic Republic of the Congo scheduled to be signed on February 24th, which many critics and Africa advocates say is a roadmap for the division of eastern Congo into individual states for the convenience of Western mining companies.
The so-called peace agreement, in French and English: http://friendsofthecongo.org/images/pdf/peace_framework_feb_24.pdf.