Regional Political Leadership and Policy Integration in Great Lakes Region of Africa

Regional Political Leadership and Policy Integration in Great Lakes Region of Africa

Yvan Yenda Ilunga (Rutgers University, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-4993-2.ch013

Abstract

For the past two decades, following the Rwandan genocide in 1994, the Great Lakes Region of Africa has become a conflict-ridden zone marked by mass violations of human rights and political instabilities. Part of these instabilities and violence is due to the lack of strong and stable political leadership and institutions in many of the countries in the region. In 1996, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) was plagued by the uprising of the rebel movement called the Alliance des Forces Démocratiques pour la Libération du Congo-Zaïre. This movement was a coalition of Rwanda, Burundi, and Uganda, along with Congolese people. However, the AFDL victory was short-lived since the coalition parties broke up their alliance in 1998, which led to a new cycle of conflict which continued to destabilize the DRC to date with its Eastern provinces being most affected. In addition to conflict within the DRC, political instability and crisis of legitimacy of political leadership in South Sudan, Burundi, and the Central African Republic have also exacerbated the instability in the region. In this chapter, the author argues that peace and stability in the Great Lakes Region of Africa would depend on how best several facets of policies are integrated into one operational framework for peace and stability.
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Introduction

Following the Rwandan genocide in 1994, the Great Lakes Region of Africa became a conflict-ridden zone marked by mass violations of human rights and political instabilities. Part of these instabilities was due to the lack of strong and stable regional political leadership and institutions in many countries in the region. For instance, in 1996 the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) was plagued by the uprising of the rebel movement called the Alliance des Forces Démocratiques pour la Libération du Congo-Zaïre, which is known by the acronym, AFDL. This movement was a coalition constituted by troops from Rwanda, Burundi and Uganda, along with Congolese people. The AFDL managed to unseat President Mobutu who had ruled the country for more than 32 years. However, the AFDL victory was short-lived since the coalition parties broke up their alliance in 1998. This rupture led to a new cycle of conflicts which continue to destabilize the DRC to date, with its Eastern provinces being the most affected. In addition to conflict within the DRC, political instability and crisis of political legitimacy among leadership in South Sudan, Burundi and the Central African Republic have also exacerbated instability in the region. For all the countries mentioned in the abstract, including the DRC, conflicts are rooted in political, economic, social, as well as ethnic issues. To ensure peace and stability, it is critical to promote and articulate security mechanisms under a regional and inclusive framework. Hence, the central argument running in this chapter is that political leaders in the Great Lakes Regions of Africa should strengthen regional mechanisms that promote peace and stability by integrating policies in their security framework. The complexity of crisis in the region requires that leaders elevate their strategic responses to move from national security strategies toward inclusive and collaborative regional security approaches.

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