This week's In the News focuses on the current conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The nine resources discussed provide news, analysis, commentary, and history. Eighteen months ago in Zaire, the Alliance of Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Congo (ADFL), a revolutionary coalition led by Laurent Kabila, toppled the regime of Mobutu Sese Seko, ending Mobutu's 32-year reign as the leader of Africa's third-largest nation. After the successful revolt, Kabila installed himself as the new president and renamed his country the Democratic Republic of Congo. Last August, only fourteen months after the ADFL's victory, another Congolese civil war broke out as result of dissension within the ADFL. The current conflict began when rebel factions rallied to oust Kabila, accusing him of despotism, nepotism, and tribalism. Kabila's new government, which has outlawed opposing political organizations and shut down the press, responded to the rebellion by forming military alliances with other African nations including Zimbabwe, Angola, Namibia, and Chad, among others. The rebels, who have enlisted the support of Rwanda and Uganda, now control most of northeastern Congo, after four months of fighting, but have failed in their attempt to take Kinshasa, the Congolese capital. Analysts have projected that this intense civil war, with its intricate international alliances and myriad political factions, may escalate into the first modern pan-African war. Fortunately, the first steps toward a peaceful resolution were taken last weekend at the twentieth Franco-African summit in Paris, which convenes over 50 nations biennially. On Saturday, French President Jacques Chirac and United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan announced a tentative cease-fire agreement, after meeting with four African presidents involved in the conflict: Kabila, Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe, Pasteur Bizimungu of Rwanda, and Yoweri Museveni of Uganda. However, the major rebel groups who have done much of the fighting, such as the Congolese Rally for Democracy led by Ernest Wamba dia Wamba, will not recognize the ad hoc cease-fire pact because they were not invited to the peace negotiations at the two-day summit. Nevertheless, African officials hope that the verbal truce will last until a preliminary cease-fire can be signed by all belligerent parties next week in Lusaka, Zambia. Peacemakers would like to reach a final agreement and bring stability to the region before the next meeting of the Organization of African Unity to be held in Ouagadougou, the capital of Burkina Faso, December 17-18.
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