Kinshasa (Fides Service) – There is a ray of hope for peace in the civil war which since 1998 has killed between 2 and 4 million people in Congo. Through mediation by the local Catholic Church a tribal conflict which has lasted fifty years was solved. In fact thanks to the intervention of Rev. Alexis Asani Ndalimbuzi, president of the Justice and Peace Commission of Bukavu diocese, a peace agreement was signed between the Babuyu and Babembe tribes living in Fizi, Lulenge, south Kivu and in Kabanbare, Babuyu sector in Maniema province.
“The root of this long dispute between these two tribes is land” Xaverian missionary Father Luigi Lo Stocco, head of Maria Queen of Peace Radio in Bukavu, tells Fides Service. “The Babuyu accuse the Babembe of occupying their land. What happened was that Belgian colonial settlers moved the Babembe down from their mountain homelands to work in cotton plantations. Another motive of dispute is that the Babembe, who in the meantime have become the larger ethnic group, refuse to pay tribal dues demanded by the Babuyu” Father Luigi explains.
This tribal dispute between the Babembe and Babuyu is exploited by the different parties in the civil war which has ravaged Democratic Congo since 1998. “Both the government and the various guerrilla groups operating in eastern Congo use this tribal rivalry arming both Babembe and Babuyu, in exchange for support” Father Luigi says.
With this agreement the conflicting sides promise reciprocal forgiveness for wrongs suffered and say they will engage in talks to lay the basis for a lasting peace. The agreement also entails the payment of tribal dues and the definitive cessation of all provocation to incite tribal hatred, xenophobia and acts of violence.
In Congo various armies and guerrilla groups are fighting for control of the rich resources, diamonds, timber, coltan, uranium and oil. Alongside are many more tribal disputes, similar to the Babuyu/Babembe rivalry, which these bigger opponents exploit for their own ends.
LM (Fides Service 28/7/2003 EM lines 32 Words: 384)