Vlassenroot, Koen; Raeymaekers, Timothy
July 2004
African Affairs;Jul2004, Vol. 103 Issue 412, p385
Academic Journal
This article offers an interpretation of the present conflict in Ituri based on social analysis. Other than the conventional accounts which depart from the presence of foreign troops on Congolese soil, reduce the war to a struggle for natural resources or see it as the result of age-old ethnic hatreds, the authors try to place this conflict into its social setting. The central argument of this article is that the outbreak of violence in Ituri has been the result of the exploitation, by local and regional actors, of a deeply rooted local political conflict for access to land, economic opportunity and political power. Firstly, it is assumed that the destruction of the local socioeconomic fabric and the emergence of ethnicity as the main basis for political mobilization has been the result of a long historical process in which access to land, education, political positions and economic dominance have played a crucial role. Secondly, it is asserted that, although foreign elements (i.e. the UPDF and RDF, formerly RPA) have contributed significantly to the escalation of the political crisis in Ituri, the war has also provided a perfect platform for local political and economic actors to redefine their position in this new political and economic landscape. Eventually, this emerging political complex has led to the development of a new political economy which is characterized by a shift from traditional to military rule, to privatized, non-territorial networks of economic control, and to the consolidation of ethnic bonds in the economic and political sphere.


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