The 21st century opened for the Democratic Republic of Congo in a context full of contrasts and uncertainties: the country was still devastated by the civil war, in spite of the ceasefire agreements signed in 1999 and the presence of a United Nations peacekeeping mission (MONUC). Begun in 1996, the civil war had already caused millions of deaths, and had seen, in support of the various warring factions, the involvement first of all of Rwanda and Uganda, but also of Angola, Burundi, Zimbabwe, Namibia. According to Localcollegeexplorer, 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 that took part in it, and for the strategic and economic interests at stake – the Congo, in fact, is very rich in raw materials (coltan, gold, diamonds) – and, finally, due to the worsening of the dramatic inter-ethnic tensions that had upset the entire Great Lakes region during the 1990s (primarily the Rwandan genocide). In a context of great instability, in January 2001, President Laurent-Désiré Kabila was killed in unclear circumstances. His death brought his son Joseph to power who, despite his young age and lack of experience, was able to change the political situation and start a process of national pacification by opening dialogue with the internal opposition and the achievement of separate peace with Rwanda (the President Laurent-Désiré Kabila. His death brought his son Joseph to power who, despite his young age and lack of experience, was able to change the political situation and start a process of national pacification by opening dialogue with the internal opposition and the achievement of separate peace with Rwanda (the President Laurent-Désiré Kabila. His death brought his son Joseph to power who, despite his young age and lack of experience, was able to change the political situation and start a process of national pacification by opening dialogue with the internal opposition and the achievement of separate peace with Rwanda (in July 2002)and Uganda (in September 2002).
Under the agreement signed in Pretoria (South Africa), Rwandan President Paul Kagame has pledged to withdraw his troops (more than 20,000 men), while Kabila disarmed the Hutu Interahamwe militias present in Congo, the same ones responsible for the Rwandan genocide of 1994. The peace with Uganda, signed in Luanda (Angola), established the withdrawal of Ugandan troops from the Congo by October 2003. On the domestic front, in December, again in South Africa, Kabila and the main groups of the ‘opposition signed an agreement that provided for two years of transition to reach democratic elections, while a government of national unity would be formed based on a power-sharing that confirmed the president and distributed the four positions of vice-presidency among 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.
In April 2003 Kabila was sworn in as president of the transitional government. During 2004, while the establishment of an integrated national army was proceeding, tension intensified in Kivu, on the border with Rwanda, where it was almost impossible for the central state to exercise a control function and where the authorities continued to act undisturbed. opposing rebel factions, the local Mai Mai guerrilla bands and other groups. In March 2005, MONUC went on the offensive in Ituri, in response to the murder of nine UN peacekeepers, and in October the peace mission was reconfirmed for another year and expanded again, so that in December the contingent exceeded 16,000 units, making it one of the most demanding UN peace operations. In the meantime, an uncertain process of democratization continued in the country and in May 2005 the two Chambers passed the text of a new Constitution which, subjected to a popular referendum in December of the same year, was 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. In 2006 the legislative and presidential elections were called. The results of the consultations, judged substantially regular by international observers, they were severely contested for alleged fraud by the vice president of Kabila, the leader of the MLC Jean-Pierre Bemba, who ran for president and defeated in the second round by Kabila with 58% of the votes. The legislative elections saw the victory of the Parti du peuple pour la reconstruction et la democratie, founded by Kabila in 2002, which won 111 seats, followed by the MLC with 64.
When the results of the second round were announced, violent clashes occurred. in Kinshasa between the police and supporters of Bemba, who left the country in 2007 and was subsequently (2009) investigated by the International War Crimes Tribunal. During 2009, efforts increased to put an end to the difficult situation in Kivu, where rebel troops led by dissident general Laurent Nkunda were increasingly active, who was arrested in Rwanda in 2009. In May 2009, Kabila approved an amnesty, while the UN, in June 2010, transformed the peacekeeping force into a stabilization force, an act that appeared to be a signal of consolidation of the internal situation. The pacification process, however, still seemed distant and the country, immensely rich in resources and with a GDP growth rate of around 7% in 2010, continued to mark the pace on a social and institutional level, placing itself in the Development Report Human Resources of the United Nations, in 187th place, the last, due to enormous social differences, extreme levels of poverty, a high rate of illiteracy, endemic corruption and widespread violation of human rights. The one-round presidential elections, thanks to a constitutional change, and the legislative ones took place in November 2011 in a climate of increasing violence. Their correctness has been partially questioned by the European Union mission and other international bodies. Kabila and his party nevertheless confirmed their leadership of the country, but the opposition candidate, Étienne Tshisekedi, leader of the Union pour la démocratie et le progrès social, contested the results, denouncing fraud and irregularities. Kabila’s victory, on the other hand, immediately received the recognition of the majority of African states.