Africa in focus

Africa in the News: South Sudan’s Transitional Unity Government Agreement; DRC-Rwanda Border; DRC’s ‘Conflict Free’ Mines

Ethan Lee

South Sudan Agreement to Form Unity Government

On Tuesday, President Salva Kiir and rebel leader Riek Machar met in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia and agreed to form a transitional unity government within 60 days. This agreement followed a six-month civil war, and sanctions from the United States. For the first time in the conflict, heads of state from neighboring East Africa’s regional trade bloc, the Intergovernmental Agency for Development also threatened sanctions on both parties. However, some remain skeptical the agreement will hold given the failed outcomes of previous ceasefire deals.  

South Sudan’s conflict has led to the deaths of thousands, with as many as 1.3 million people displaced. With a disrupted planting season due to the fighting and limited access to food, an estimated 4 million people risk facing starvation by the end of the year.

DRC-Rwanda Border Skirmish

For a second time this week, gunfire was exchanged at the border between the Democratic Republic of Congo and Rwanda. Both countries accused the other of provoking the attacks.  DRC officials stated that Rwandan forces entered into North Kivu on Wednesday, where they abducted and killed a Congolese corporal. Rwanda accused Congolese troops of entering its country and killing four soldiers, which the Congolese army denied.

The two countries have had long standing conflicts in the past. Rwanda backed Congolese rebel troops during two wars in Congo from 1996 to 2003 while the DRC has been accused of harboring elements of the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda militia that committed the 1994 genocide in Rwanda.

Most DRC Mines ‘Conflict Free’

The Enough Project reported on Tuesday that Congolese warlords have lost control over most of the country’s mines and conflict minerals that generated $185 million per year for armed groups responsible for atrocities. The report attributed this significant reduction in part to the implementation of the US 2010 Dodd-Frank law that requires companies to register and disclose its supply chain to the US Securities and Exchange Commission if possibly using conflict minerals. Other reforms as well as the defeat of two major rebel groups by U.N. forces was also credited in significantly reducing the militia’s mining control. The reforms have allowed for an increase in miners’ wages and in safety equipment; however, further challenges are said to remain such as the Congolese army’s alleged corrupt profiting from mineral trade.