Congo, Democratic Republic

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Overview
The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) has lived amidst conflict and violence for much of its history. The Belgians under King Leopold II controlled the country for decades, until the “Belgian Congo” was granted its independence in 1960. Laurent Kabila and Colonel Joseph Desire Mobutu, the country’s two most famous leaders, both led the country into repression and unrest, and only when Kabila was assassinated did the country begin to move towards democracy, under the leadership of his son. Human rights abuses have characterized the DRC for many years, and NGOs continue to try to prevent this from spreading. The area is rich in mineral deposits, such as copper, gold, cassiterite (tin ore) and columbite-tantalite, which is used in the construction of cell phones, VCRs and stereos. Because of these rich minerals deposits, the people of the Congo have suffered the very worst of colonial and post-colonial violence, expoitation and oppression. 
 
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Basic Information

Lay of the Land:  The DRC, located in Central Africa, is bordered by Angola and Zambia to the south, Burundi, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda to the east, the Central African Republic and Sudan to the north, and the Republic of the Congo to the west.

 
Population: 66.5 million
 
Religions: Catholic 55.4%, Protestant 30.1%, Muslim 5.2%, Kimbanguist 4.8%, Ethnoreligious 2.5%.
 
Ethnic Groups: Bantu (Mongo, Luba, Kongo), Hamitic (Mangbetu-Azande). There are more than 200 African ethnic groups.
 
Languages: Luba-Kasai (official) 10.8%, Kituba 7.2%, Lingala (official) 3.5%, Luba-Katanga 2.6%, Koongo (official) 1.7%, Songe 1.7%, Ngbaka 1.7%, Nande 1.5%, Lugbara 1.4%, Alur 1.3%, Lendu 1.3%, Shi 1.1%, Bemba 1.0%, San Salvador Kongo 0.9%, Chokwe 0.9%, Congo Swahili (official), French (official). There are 214 living languages in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

 

 
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History
The Democratic Republic of the Congo was originally settled in the 7th and 8th centuries by the Bantu ethnic group. The first Westerner to visit the area was Portuguese explorer Diego Cäo in 1482.  Between 1874 and 1877, the Welsh journalist Henry Morton Stanley staged a dramatic 999-day journey along the course of the River Congo. For almost its entire modern history, the Congo has been exploited for its minerals and the Congolese people have suffered the very worst of colonial and post-colonial violence and oppression.
 
The area was officially colonized in 1885 as a possession of Belgian King Leopold II and named the Congo Free State. It was renamed the Belgian Congo in 1907 when administration was shifted to the Belgian government. But the transition was anything but peaceful. Riots and unrest plagued the fledgling state until June 30, 1960, when the Belgian Congo was granted its independence.
 
The country held its first parliamentary elections in 1960 and elected Patrice Lumumba as president. Joseph Kasavubu was elected prime minister. The country was renamed Democratic Republic of the Congo.
 
Again, the nation experienced instability. By 1961, the army had mutinied and the governor of Katanga province attempted to secede from the country. A United Nations peacekeeping force tried to restore order but Lumumba was murdered by Belgian authorities and Colonel Joseph-Désiré Mobutu (who changed his name to Mobutu Sese Seko) took over the government before turning it over to Kasavubu.
 
The violence continued through 1965 when Mobutu, then a lieutenant general in command of the army, seized control of the country and declared himself president for five years. He gave himself absolute power in the government and was again “elected” in 1970, having run unopposed.   Mobutu renamed the country Zaire and ordered its citizens adopt traditional African names. 
 
Zaire enjoyed relative peace and stability until 1977-1978 when Katangan rebels from Angola invaded the Katanga region. With the help of the Belgian military, the rebels were defeated. During the 1980s, Mobutu continued his reign by denying citizens the ability to form other parties or run against him. However, opposition parties like the Union pour la Démocratie et le Progrés Social (UDPS) became active and helped to draw international criticism for Mobutu’s actions.
 
In 1989-1990, domestic protests and a failing economy forced Mobutu’s hand, and in April 1990, he agreed to the idea of a multi-party system, with regular elections and a constitution. But since soldiers had not been paid, they began looting the capital city of Kinshasa in September 1991. Two thousand French and Belgian troops, some flown in by US Air Force planes, arrived to help evacuate the 20,000 foreign nationals living in Kinshasa. 
 
In 1992, the Sovereign National Conference was held with more than 2,000 representatives from various political parties. The conference elected Archbishop Laurent Monsengwo as chairman and Étienne Tshisekedi, leader of the UDPS, as prime minister.
 
But by the end of the year, Mobutu had created a rival government, with its own prime minister. There was little agreement between the two sides, but eventually they chose to merge into the High Council of Republic-Parliament of Transition (HCR-PT) in 1994. Mobutu remained head of state, and Kengo Wa Dondo became prime minister. Elections scheduled over the next two years did not take place.
 
War and refugees from the genocide in Rwanda began to spill over into Zaire in 1996. Hutu militia forces, called Interahamwe, had fled Rwanda after Tutsis ascended to head the government, and began to use Zaire as a staging ground for incursions against Rwanda. In October, Rwandan troops (RPA) entered Zaire with an armed coalition led by Laurent-Désiré Kabila. This was the Alliance des Forces Democratiques pour la Liberation du Congo-Zaire (AFDL).
 
The AFDL’s goal was to force Mobutu out of power, and it began to push forward toward the capital. Although Mobutu attended peace talks with Kabila in May 1997, Mobutu eventually left the country, and Kabila marched into Kinshasa on May 17. Kabila declared himself president and renamed the country the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Immediately, he installed Rwandans as his chief and secretary general of the AFDL. The DRC’s military was renamed the Forces Armées Congolaises (FAC).
 
Kabila’s relationships, especially with foreign backers, quickly deteriorated. In July 1998, Kabila made all foreign troops leave the DRC, and when most refused to leave, fighting broke out, as Rwandan troops in the DRC mutinied, and new troops streamed across the border.
 
Within a few days, Rwandan troops flew to Bas-Congo to oust Kabila. However, this campaign was scuttled when Angolan, Zimbabwean and Namibian troops intervened on behalf of the DRC. The Rwandans withdrew to the eastern part of the country, continuing to fight the Congolese Army and its allies.
 
In February 1999, the Mouvement pour la Libération du Congo (MLC), a group backed by Uganda, established control over the northern third of the DRC. This group was allied with ex-Mobutuists and ex-Zairean soldiers, among others.
 
The DRC remained divided into three parts existing in political and military deadlock. In August 1999, a cease-fire was signed (the Lusaka Accord), which called for UN peacekeepers to be deployed while foreign troops left the country. Also part of the agreement was the formation of an “Inter-Congolese Dialogue,” which was to form a transitional government leading up to elections.
 
But the parties involved did not fully implement the provisions of the agreement, and in 1999 and 2000, Kabila came under renewed pressure for blocking access for UN peacekeeping troops. He was also accused of standing in the way of the Inter-Congolese Dialogue and suppressing political activity in the country. Kabila was assassinated on January 16, 2001, and was succeeded by Joseph Kabila, his son. 
 
Joseph Kabila reversed many of his father’s unpopular policies and quickly allowed access for peacekeeping troops. The Inter-Congolese Dialogue proceeded as well. By the end of 2002, most foreign troops had withdrawn from the DRC, and Rwandan troops pulled back in October 2002 after signing the Pretoria Accord with Rwanda. Finally, Ugandan troops left the country in May 2003.
 
In October 2001, the Inter-Congolese Dialogue began in Addis Ababa under the auspices of facilitator Ketumile Masire, who had formerly been president of Botswana. Little progress was made, and the meeting was adjourned. On February 25, 2002, the dialogue was reconvened in South Africa and included representatives from the government, rebel groups, political opposition, civil society, and Mai-Mai (Congolese local defense militias).
 
In April 2002, these talks ended with an agreement between the MLC and the government. Alhough it left out certain opposition parties, the majority of delegates signed the agreement. However, it was never implemented, and negotiations resumed in October 2002 in South Africa. This time, the agreement included all parties, and it was signed on December 17, 2002, and ratified on April 2, 2003.
 
A People’s History of Congo’s Jean-Pierre Bemba (by Keith Harmon Snow, Toward Freedom)
In the Footsteps of Mr. Kurtz (by Michela Wrong)

 

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Congo, Democratic Republic's Newspapers
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History of U.S. Relations with Congo, Democratic Republic

The United States first established diplomatic relations with the DRC in 1960. A crisis soon erupted in the country that drew the attention of the Eisenhower and Kennedy administrations. For 14 months after the outbreak of the crisis in July 1960, the threat of Soviet domination of the Congo through Soviet influence on the charismatic Patrice Lumumba and on his followers was a major concern of both Eisenhower and Kennedy. The formation of a moderate coalition government in August 1961 seemed to bring an end to the crisis, but the outbreak of hostilities in Katanga in September 1961 initiated a new phase.

 
By some accounts, the United States was involved in both the death of Lumumba and the coup of 1965 that brought Mobutu to power. Mobutu’s government received American (and CIA) support in the late 1960s and found American influence helpful in various economic and political disputes. Relations continued to be warm until the Zairianization decree of November 30, 1973, which led to the transfer of a large number of foreign-owned enterprises, including facilities owned by international oil companies, into Zairian hands. Thereafter, relations were chilly.
 
But in 1975, the United States and Zaire found themselves supporting the same faction in the Angolan civil war. At that point, US policymakers decided that it needed a stable Zaire for political and economic reasons in this part of Africa. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger’s first official trip to Africa in April 1976 included a long visit to Kinshasa.
 
The Carter administration, which placed great importance on human rights, posed a problem for the Mobutu regime, with its poor human rights record. For the first time, criticism of Mobutu by members of Congress and by voluntary agencies was met with some sympathy by a US president. However, the skeptical attitude toward the Zairian government was partially reversed by Cuban and Soviet military involvement in threats against Mobutu’s government. The United States refused to become involved militarily and sent only non-lethal military supplies, such as medical and transportation equipment. In 1980, the House of Representatives voted to end all military assistance to Zaire because of its poor human rights record and misuse of US aid. The Senate, though, reinstated the funds, reacting to pressure from Carter and American business interests in Zaire.
 
The election of Ronald Reagan to the White House was well received in Zaire, and American concerns about Mobutu’s human rights record died down. Mobutu again was seen as providing useful services to the United States in its struggle against the Soviet Union and Soviet allies such as Libya and Angola. As United States-Zaire relations became more visible in Washington, Mobutu became more active in promoting a positive image of himself and his country. Two Washington lobbying firms with ties to the Reagan administration received hefty contracts from Mobutu.
 
Nevertheless, in November 1990, Congress cut military and economic aid (except for some humanitarian aid) to Zaire, crystallizing the longstanding division between Congress and the executive branch and between liberals and conservatives on Zaire policy. As it adjourned, Congress denied the George H. W. Bush administration’s request for $4 million in military aid and stipulated that $40 million in economic aid be funneled through humanitarian agencies not affiliated with the Zairian government. Its decision was based on human rights violations—the September 1990 Lubumbashi massacre in particular—and accusations that Mobutu’s vast wealth was largely stolen from the Zairian people.
 
By 1992 the United States-Zaire relationship had reached a turning point. The end of the Cold War had diminished the strategic significance of Zaire to the United States and events in Zaire since 1990 had made it clear that Mobutu’s days in power were numbered. In 1991-92, the United States, together with Belgium and France, attempted to promote peaceful political change in Zaire by pressuring Mobutu to oversee the transition to democratic government and to depart voluntarily.
 
Opening the Secret Files on Lumumba’s Murder (by Stephen R. Weisman, Washington Post)
An Anatomy Of Autocracy: Mobutu’s Era (by Howard W. French, New York Times)
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Current U.S. Relations with Congo, Democratic Republic

Overall, relations between the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the US are positive. The US has played a part in the DRC’s peace process. In 2004, the US facilitated the signing of a regional security agreement between the DRC, Rwanda and Uganda. Burundi joined this Tripartite Commission in September 2005, and when this happened, the group was renamed Tripartite Plus. 

 
The US has also supported efforts by the UN to monitor the DRC-Rwanda border with a Joint Verification Mechanism and encouraged the governments of these countries to undergo internal reconciliation to further enhance security and stability and foster economic growth.
 
In 2006, 418 Congolese visited the US, a sizable jump of 168% from the 156 that visited in 2005.
 
DROC: Remarks (State Department)
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Where Does the Money Flow

US imports from the DRC include feedstuff and food grains, which increased from $678,000 in 2006 to $1.1 million in 2007; crude oil, which increased from $0 in 2006 to $41 million in 2007 (which was down from $85.8 million in 2003); “miscellaneous nonferrous metals,” which increased from $744,000 in 2006 to $1.37 million in 2007; “artwork, antiques, stamps, and other collectibles,” which increased from $4.1 million in 2006 to $6.1 million in 2007; and “gem diamonds-uncut or unset,” which increased from $67 million in 2006 to $147.9 million in 2007 (up from just $31 million in 2003).

 
On the decline were the following imports: “plastic materials” decreased from $144,000 in 2006 to $0 in 2007; “sulfur and nonmetallic minerals” moved down from $641,000 in 2006 to $269,000 in 2007; engines for civilian aircraft decreased from $1 million in 2006 to $0 in 2007; “furniture, household items, baskets” decreased from $44,000 in 2006 to $0 in 2007; and “other gem stones-precious, semiprecious, and imitation” decreased from $1.5 million in 2006 to $379,000 in 2007. 
 
US exports to the DRC included the following: wheat increased from $4.9 million in 2006 to $24.8 million in 2007 (which is up from $4 million in 2003); “agriculture industry-unmanufactured” increased from $1.46 million in 2006 to $3.15 million in 2007; plastic materials moved up from $716,000 in 2006 to $1.6 million in 2007; and drilling and oilfield equipment increased from $4.35 million in 2006 to $13.1 million in 2007. 
 
On the decline were “iron and steel products, other,” which moved down from $1.4 million in 2006 to $110,000 in 2007; “chemicals-organic,” which decreased from $2.15 million in 2006 to $1.5 million in 2007; excavating machinery, which decreased from $3.49 million in 2006 to $2.4 million in 2007; and “photo, service industry machinery,” which moved down from $1.168 million in 2006 to $211,000 in 2007. 
 
In 2006 the US gave $90.2 million in aid to the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The largest programs to receive aid were Crisis Assistance and Recovery ($40 million), Basic Education ($11.4 million), Maternal and Child Health ($8.7 million), Family Planning and Reproductive Health ($5.7 million), and HIV/AIDS ($4.0 million).
 
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Controversies

Human Rights Abuses Tied to DRC Copper Mining Company

In May 2008, a BBC report revealed that many US, British and Australian aid organizations (including USAID) and companies had invested in the devastated DRC economy. However, human rights abuses have been discovered, particularly relating to a company called Anvil Mining. Critics say companies like Anvil should not receive aid unless they take responsibility for past abuses and adopt new measures designed to clean up their operations.
 
World Bank Leader Caught Up in DRC Controversy
In March 2007, World Bank President Paul Wolfowitz visited the DRC in the wake of the recent presidential elections and growing controversy about the bank’s involvement in the country’s natural resources. The World Bank has supported reforms in the forestry and mining sectors and has come under fire from critics who believe that efforts to attract new investors are taking precedence over measures to protect local rights. Wolfowitz’s presence was thought to be intended as a signal to the business community that investment in the area is safe. But especially in the mining sector, local authorities have not been able to monitor, mitigate or manage the impacts of mining on the land or the local communities. Wolfowitz served in the Bush administration before taking over the World Bank, serving as one of the leading neo-cons who helped shape the administration’s anti-terrorism policy and favored the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq.
 
Western Nations Funding Rebel Wars?
In 2001, shortly after the assassination of Laurent Kabila, the Industry Standard revealed that the demand for Columbite-tantalite (coltan, for short), a material used in the making of cell phones, computer chips, stereos and VCRs, had given rise to a deadly trend in the DRC. Warring rebel groups had taken to exploiting coltan mining in order to finance their wars. Some groups have linked the exploitation of coltan with human rights abuses, including forced labor and child labor, and destruction of natural resources and habitats. Some have called upon cell phone companies Ericsson, Intel and Nokia to stop doing business in the region, but spokespeople say they are waiting for a UN embargo before acting.
Guns, Money and Cell Phones (by Kristi Essick, Industry Standard Magazine)
Congo: UN Says War Fueled by Foreign Firms (by David Usborne, The Independent)
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Human Rights

In all areas of the DRC, the government’s human rights record remained poor, according to the 2007 State Department report, and security forces acted with impunity, committing numerous serious abuses, including unlawful killings, disappearances, torture and rape, and engaging in arbitrary arrests and detention. Other problems included harsh and life-threatening conditions in prisons and detention facilities, prolonged pretrial detention, lack of an independent and effective judiciary, and arbitrary interference with privacy, family, and home also remained serious problems. Security forces recruited and retained child soldiers and compelled forced labor by adults and children. Members of the security forces also continued to abuse and threaten journalists, contributing to a decline in freedom of the press. Government corruption remained pervasive. Security forces at times harassed local human rights advocates and UN human rights investigators. Discrimination against women and ethnic minorities, trafficking in persons, child labor, and lack of protection of workers’ rights continued to be pervasive throughout the country.

 
Armed groups continue to commit numerous, serious abuses—some of which probably constitute war crimes—including unlawful killings, disappearances, and torture. They also recruited and retained child soldiers, compelled forced labor, committed widespread crimes of sexual violence and other possible war crimes.
 
In the east, security forces summarily executed civilians and killed civilians during clashes with illegal armed groups. Security forces arbitrarily and summarily killed civilians, often for failing to surrender their possessions, submit to rape, or perform personal services.
 
Police often arbitrarily arrested and detained persons without filing charges, often to extort money from family members. Authorities rarely pressed charges in a timely manner and often created contrived or overly vague charges. No functioning bail system existed, and detainees had little access to legal counsel if unable to pay. Authorities often held suspects in incommunicado detention and refused to acknowledge their detention.
 
The law provides for an independent judiciary; in practice judges, who were poorly compensated, remained subject to influence and coercion by officials and other influential individuals.
 
There were reports of political prisoners and detainees but no reliable estimates of the number. The government sometimes permitted access to political prisoners by international human rights organizations.
 
Soldiers, deserters and police continued to harass and rob civilians. Security forces routinely ignored legal requirements and entered and searched homes or vehicles without warrants. In general those responsible for such acts remained unidentified and unpunished. Security forces sometimes looted homes, businesses and schools.
 
Many human rights violations were committed by “mixed brigades,” created when renegade General Laurent Nkunda, based in North Kivu Province, agreed to “mix” his troops with pro-government troops. The five mixed brigades numbered approximately 12,000 soldiers, fewer than half of whom were thought to be loyal to Nkunda. The agreement disintegrated, resulting in increased fighting and abuses by all parties in North Kivu Province, as well as increasing ethnic tensions there. Nkunda, a former officer of the Rwanda-backed Congolese Rally for Democracy rebel group, and later a FARDC general, remained subject to a 2005 Congolese arrest warrant for alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity committed since 2002.
 
According to the UN Human Rights Council’s special rapporteur on violence against women, armed groups committed the majority of rapes in the east. They committed gang rapes, and often raped victims in front of their families, using extreme violence, threats and beatings. Government security forces, armed groups, and civilians perpetrated widespread and sometimes mass rape against women and girls. Prosecutions for rape and other types of sexual violence remained rare.
 
The law provides for freedom of speech and of the press; however, the government restricted these rights in practice. Freedom of the press declined as the result of threats and actions by government officials at several levels during the year. In August the UN's independent expert on human rights in the DRC noted dozens of cases in which security forces harassed and arbitrarily arrested journalists and other media personnel.
 
Corruption remained endemic throughout the government and security forces. The public perceived the government to be widely corrupt at all levels. According to the World Bank's worldwide governance indicators, official corruption was a severe problem. Weak financial controls and lack of a functioning judicial system encouraged officials to engage in corruption with impunity. Many civil servants, police, and soldiers had not been paid in years, received irregular salaries or did not earn enough to support their families, all of which encouraged corruption. Reports indicated that the mining sector continued to lose millions of dollars as a result of the corruption of government officials at all levels.
 
Both victims and the UN Human Rights Council's special rapporteur on violence against women cited widespread impunity as the main reason for sexual violence. Most victims did not have sufficient confidence in the justice system to pursue formal legal action or feared subjecting themselves to further humiliation and possible reprisal.
 
Child labor remained a problem throughout the country, and there continued to be reports of forced child labor. Although there were no reports of large enterprises using child labor, it was common in the mining and subsistence agriculture sectors.
 
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Debate
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Past Ambassadors

Note: The Embassy in Leopoldville (now Kinshasha) was established on Jun 30, 1960, with John D. Tomlinson as Chargé d'Affaires ad interim.

 
Clare H. Timberlake
Appointment: Jul 5, 1960
Presentation of Credentials: Jul 25, 1960
Termination of Mission: Left post, Jun 15, 1961
 
Edmund A. Gullion
Appointment: Aug 3, 1961
Presentation of Credentials: Sep 11, 1961
Termination of Mission: Left post, Feb 20, 1964
 
G. McMurtrie Godley
Appointment: Feb 20, 1964
Presentation of Credentials: Mar 23, 1964
Termination of Mission: Left post, Oct 15, 1966
 
Robert H. McBride
Appointment: May 10, 1967
Presentation of Credentials: Jun 29, 1967
Termination of Mission: Left post, May 16, 1969
 
Sheldon B. Vance
Appointment: May 27, 1969
Presentation of Credentials: Jun 28, 1969
Termination of Mission: Left post, Mar 26, 1974
 
Deane R. Hinton
Appointment: Jun 20, 1974
Presentation of Credentials: Aug 21, 1974
Termination of Mission: Left post, Jun 21, 1975
Note: Declared persona non grata by the Government of Zaire, Jun 18, 1975.
 
Walter L. Cutler
Appointment: Nov 20, 1975
Presentation of Credentials: Dec 23, 1975
Termination of Mission: Left post, May 9, 1979
 
Robert B. Oakley
Appointment: Nov 6, 1979
Presentation of Credentials: Nov 28, 1979
Termination of Mission: Left post, Aug 22, 1982
 
Peter Dalton Constable
Appointment: Sep 30, 1982
Presentation of Credentials: Oct 18, 1982
Termination of Mission: Left post, Aug 31, 1984
 
Brandon Hambright Grove, Jr.
Appointment: Aug 13, 1984
Presentation of Credentials: Sep 18, 1984
Termination of Mission: Left post, Sep 18, 1987
 
William Caldwell Harrop
Appointment: Dec 18, 1987
Presentation of Credentials: Jan 28, 1988
Termination of Mission: Left post, May 18, 1991
 
Melissa Foelsch Wells
Appointment: Apr 25, 1991
Presentation of Credentials: Jun 11, 1991
Termination of Mission: Left post, Mar 21, 1992
 
Note: The following officers then served as Chargés d'Affaires ad interim: John M. Yates (Mar 1992–Sep 1995), Roger A. Meece (Sep–Nov 1995).
 
Daniel H. Simpson
Appointment: Oct 3, 1995
Presentation of Credentials: Nov 23, 1995
Termination of Mission: Left post Jun 11, 1998
 
William Lacy Swing
Appointment: Aug 11, 1998
Presentation of Credentials: Oct 13, 1998
Termination of Mission: Left post Aug 11, 2001
 
Aubrey Hooks
Appointment: Jul 12, 2001
Presentation of Credentials: Sep 4, 2001
Termination of Mission: Apr 17, 2004
 
Roger A. Meece
Appointment: May 14, 2004
Presentation of Credentials: Aug 3, 2004
Termination of Mission: Left post, Aug 14, 2007
 
 
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Congo, Democratic Republic's Ambassador to the U.S.
ambassador-image Mombouli, Serge

Serge Mombouli has served as ambassador of the Republic of Congo to the United States since July 2001.

 
Born on July 22, 1959, in Pointe Noire, Republic of Congo, Mombouli grew up the son of a diplomat and Congolese statesman, in a family of 10 children.
 
He graduated with a degree in tourism management from the Superior Institute of Tourism in Paris, France. He also holds a bachelor’s degree in corporate law from the National Conservatory of Arts and Professions.
 
His career began at Air Afrique in the corporate sales department in Paris.
 
Later, Mombouli became vice president of AWE Group Inc. in Houston, Texas, and owner of P.I. Travel Corporation.
 
In 1995, he became vice president of the international operations and project development section of Transworld Consortium Corporation, a Houston-based company.
 
Two years later, he accepted a position as U.S. spokesman for Denis Sassou Nguesso, president of the Republic of Congo.
 
Mombouli was appointed charge d’affaires at the Congolese embassy in Washington, D.C., in November 1997.
 
Official Biography (Embassy of the Republic of Congo)

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Congo, Democratic Republic's Embassy Web Site in the U.S.

Embassy of the Democratic Republic of Congo

1800 New Hampshire Avenue NW
Washington DC 20009
Telephone: 202-234-7690
Fax: 202-237-0748
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Comments

Jedidiaih 6 years ago
May God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the creator of all lives and spirits see to it that those who have shad and are still shading much blood in DR Congo face the punishments due their evil deeds unless they repent. now I know that the people of DR CONGO are some miserable poor black Africans so they call us, but Satan never said let us create man in our own image; it was the Almighty God who created every living being so then those who are god's according to themselves will...

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U.S. Ambassador to Congo, Democratic Republic

Haskell, Todd
ambassador-image

Todd Philip Haskell, a career member of the Foreign Service, was nominated by President Barack Obama on January 17, 2017, to be the next ambassador to the Republic of the Congo.

Haskell was born in 1962 and is from Hewlett Harbor, New York, on Long Island. He graduated from Lawrence High School in 1980 and went on to Georgetown’s school of foreign affairs, where he earned his B.S.F.S. in 1984.

 

Haskell joined the State Department the following year. In 1986, he went on his first overseas assignment, as a general services officer and consul in Karachi, Pakistan, and moved to Manila as a consul in 1988.

 

In 1990, Haskell began a tour as a civilian observer in the multinational force in the Sinai Peninsula. He returned to more conventional duty in 1992, as consul in Poznan, Poland. Haskell returned to Washington in 1993 as an intelligence analyst in the State Department’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research.

 

Haskell was sent to Tel Aviv as consul in 1996. While there, he was involved in the case of an American teen arrested and held by the Israeli government in 1998. Hashem Mufleh was boarding a plane for the United States when he was arrested and subsequently held for three months without bail on charges of being a member of Hamas. As consul, Haskell monitored the case and urged his release.

 

In 2001, Haskell was sent to Mexico City as consul. He received his first African assignment in August 2003 as public affairs officer in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso. In August 2006, he took a similar role at the U.S. consulate in Johannesburg, South Africa. Haskell was sent to Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic in August 2010 as public affairs counselor.

 

Haskell returned to Washington in August 2013 for a stint as office director in the Africa Bureau’s Office of Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs, where he was a member of the Ebola communications task force. He was named deputy assistant secretary for Southern Africa in the Bureau of African Affairs in August 2015.

 

Haskell and his wife, Jennifer, have three sons: Michael, Jonah and Seth. Haskell speaks French, Spanish and Hebrew.

-Steve Straehley

 

To Learn More

Official Biography

Speech about State Department Policies & USAID Programs toward Africa at Africa Center for Strategic Studies (video)

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Previous U.S. Ambassador to Congo, Democratic Republic

Swan, James
ambassador-image

On October 8, 2008, James C. Swan was sworn in as Ambassador to Djibouti. After receiving a Bachelor of Science in Foreign Service from Georgetown University, Swan continued his education at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, where he received a Master of Arts in International Relations. Additionally, he also received a Master’s degree in Security Studies from the National War College, where he was a 2005 Distinguished Graduate.

 
During his professional career with the Senior Foreign Service, Swan has devoted most of his life to countries facing complex political transitions, primarily in Africa. Earlier positions in his career include Chief of the Political Section in Yaoundé, Cameroon (1992-1994) and the Somalia Watcher in Nairobi, Kenya (1994-1996).. In Washington, he served as the Desk Officer for Zaire (1996-1998). More recently his overseas assignment have included service as Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. Embassies Brazzaville, Republic of Congo (1998-2001 and in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo (2001-2004).
 
Swan served as the Director of Analysis for Africa in the State Department’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research (2005-2006) and was responsible for Central Africa and East Africa during assignment as Deputy Assistant of State for African Affairs beginning in December 2006.
 
Ambassador Swan announced in April of 2009, that the US Embassy in Djibouti would be formally upgraded by August 2011, costing $121 million. The new embassy, expected to be the largest structure of United States’ embassies in the Horn of Africa.
 

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News
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Overview
The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) has lived amidst conflict and violence for much of its history. The Belgians under King Leopold II controlled the country for decades, until the “Belgian Congo” was granted its independence in 1960. Laurent Kabila and Colonel Joseph Desire Mobutu, the country’s two most famous leaders, both led the country into repression and unrest, and only when Kabila was assassinated did the country begin to move towards democracy, under the leadership of his son. Human rights abuses have characterized the DRC for many years, and NGOs continue to try to prevent this from spreading. The area is rich in mineral deposits, such as copper, gold, cassiterite (tin ore) and columbite-tantalite, which is used in the construction of cell phones, VCRs and stereos. Because of these rich minerals deposits, the people of the Congo have suffered the very worst of colonial and post-colonial violence, expoitation and oppression. 
 
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Basic Information

Lay of the Land:  The DRC, located in Central Africa, is bordered by Angola and Zambia to the south, Burundi, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda to the east, the Central African Republic and Sudan to the north, and the Republic of the Congo to the west.

 
Population: 66.5 million
 
Religions: Catholic 55.4%, Protestant 30.1%, Muslim 5.2%, Kimbanguist 4.8%, Ethnoreligious 2.5%.
 
Ethnic Groups: Bantu (Mongo, Luba, Kongo), Hamitic (Mangbetu-Azande). There are more than 200 African ethnic groups.
 
Languages: Luba-Kasai (official) 10.8%, Kituba 7.2%, Lingala (official) 3.5%, Luba-Katanga 2.6%, Koongo (official) 1.7%, Songe 1.7%, Ngbaka 1.7%, Nande 1.5%, Lugbara 1.4%, Alur 1.3%, Lendu 1.3%, Shi 1.1%, Bemba 1.0%, San Salvador Kongo 0.9%, Chokwe 0.9%, Congo Swahili (official), French (official). There are 214 living languages in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

 

 
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History
The Democratic Republic of the Congo was originally settled in the 7th and 8th centuries by the Bantu ethnic group. The first Westerner to visit the area was Portuguese explorer Diego Cäo in 1482.  Between 1874 and 1877, the Welsh journalist Henry Morton Stanley staged a dramatic 999-day journey along the course of the River Congo. For almost its entire modern history, the Congo has been exploited for its minerals and the Congolese people have suffered the very worst of colonial and post-colonial violence and oppression.
 
The area was officially colonized in 1885 as a possession of Belgian King Leopold II and named the Congo Free State. It was renamed the Belgian Congo in 1907 when administration was shifted to the Belgian government. But the transition was anything but peaceful. Riots and unrest plagued the fledgling state until June 30, 1960, when the Belgian Congo was granted its independence.
 
The country held its first parliamentary elections in 1960 and elected Patrice Lumumba as president. Joseph Kasavubu was elected prime minister. The country was renamed Democratic Republic of the Congo.
 
Again, the nation experienced instability. By 1961, the army had mutinied and the governor of Katanga province attempted to secede from the country. A United Nations peacekeeping force tried to restore order but Lumumba was murdered by Belgian authorities and Colonel Joseph-Désiré Mobutu (who changed his name to Mobutu Sese Seko) took over the government before turning it over to Kasavubu.
 
The violence continued through 1965 when Mobutu, then a lieutenant general in command of the army, seized control of the country and declared himself president for five years. He gave himself absolute power in the government and was again “elected” in 1970, having run unopposed.   Mobutu renamed the country Zaire and ordered its citizens adopt traditional African names. 
 
Zaire enjoyed relative peace and stability until 1977-1978 when Katangan rebels from Angola invaded the Katanga region. With the help of the Belgian military, the rebels were defeated. During the 1980s, Mobutu continued his reign by denying citizens the ability to form other parties or run against him. However, opposition parties like the Union pour la Démocratie et le Progrés Social (UDPS) became active and helped to draw international criticism for Mobutu’s actions.
 
In 1989-1990, domestic protests and a failing economy forced Mobutu’s hand, and in April 1990, he agreed to the idea of a multi-party system, with regular elections and a constitution. But since soldiers had not been paid, they began looting the capital city of Kinshasa in September 1991. Two thousand French and Belgian troops, some flown in by US Air Force planes, arrived to help evacuate the 20,000 foreign nationals living in Kinshasa. 
 
In 1992, the Sovereign National Conference was held with more than 2,000 representatives from various political parties. The conference elected Archbishop Laurent Monsengwo as chairman and Étienne Tshisekedi, leader of the UDPS, as prime minister.
 
But by the end of the year, Mobutu had created a rival government, with its own prime minister. There was little agreement between the two sides, but eventually they chose to merge into the High Council of Republic-Parliament of Transition (HCR-PT) in 1994. Mobutu remained head of state, and Kengo Wa Dondo became prime minister. Elections scheduled over the next two years did not take place.
 
War and refugees from the genocide in Rwanda began to spill over into Zaire in 1996. Hutu militia forces, called Interahamwe, had fled Rwanda after Tutsis ascended to head the government, and began to use Zaire as a staging ground for incursions against Rwanda. In October, Rwandan troops (RPA) entered Zaire with an armed coalition led by Laurent-Désiré Kabila. This was the Alliance des Forces Democratiques pour la Liberation du Congo-Zaire (AFDL).
 
The AFDL’s goal was to force Mobutu out of power, and it began to push forward toward the capital. Although Mobutu attended peace talks with Kabila in May 1997, Mobutu eventually left the country, and Kabila marched into Kinshasa on May 17. Kabila declared himself president and renamed the country the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Immediately, he installed Rwandans as his chief and secretary general of the AFDL. The DRC’s military was renamed the Forces Armées Congolaises (FAC).
 
Kabila’s relationships, especially with foreign backers, quickly deteriorated. In July 1998, Kabila made all foreign troops leave the DRC, and when most refused to leave, fighting broke out, as Rwandan troops in the DRC mutinied, and new troops streamed across the border.
 
Within a few days, Rwandan troops flew to Bas-Congo to oust Kabila. However, this campaign was scuttled when Angolan, Zimbabwean and Namibian troops intervened on behalf of the DRC. The Rwandans withdrew to the eastern part of the country, continuing to fight the Congolese Army and its allies.
 
In February 1999, the Mouvement pour la Libération du Congo (MLC), a group backed by Uganda, established control over the northern third of the DRC. This group was allied with ex-Mobutuists and ex-Zairean soldiers, among others.
 
The DRC remained divided into three parts existing in political and military deadlock. In August 1999, a cease-fire was signed (the Lusaka Accord), which called for UN peacekeepers to be deployed while foreign troops left the country. Also part of the agreement was the formation of an “Inter-Congolese Dialogue,” which was to form a transitional government leading up to elections.
 
But the parties involved did not fully implement the provisions of the agreement, and in 1999 and 2000, Kabila came under renewed pressure for blocking access for UN peacekeeping troops. He was also accused of standing in the way of the Inter-Congolese Dialogue and suppressing political activity in the country. Kabila was assassinated on January 16, 2001, and was succeeded by Joseph Kabila, his son. 
 
Joseph Kabila reversed many of his father’s unpopular policies and quickly allowed access for peacekeeping troops. The Inter-Congolese Dialogue proceeded as well. By the end of 2002, most foreign troops had withdrawn from the DRC, and Rwandan troops pulled back in October 2002 after signing the Pretoria Accord with Rwanda. Finally, Ugandan troops left the country in May 2003.
 
In October 2001, the Inter-Congolese Dialogue began in Addis Ababa under the auspices of facilitator Ketumile Masire, who had formerly been president of Botswana. Little progress was made, and the meeting was adjourned. On February 25, 2002, the dialogue was reconvened in South Africa and included representatives from the government, rebel groups, political opposition, civil society, and Mai-Mai (Congolese local defense militias).
 
In April 2002, these talks ended with an agreement between the MLC and the government. Alhough it left out certain opposition parties, the majority of delegates signed the agreement. However, it was never implemented, and negotiations resumed in October 2002 in South Africa. This time, the agreement included all parties, and it was signed on December 17, 2002, and ratified on April 2, 2003.
 
A People’s History of Congo’s Jean-Pierre Bemba (by Keith Harmon Snow, Toward Freedom)
In the Footsteps of Mr. Kurtz (by Michela Wrong)

 

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Congo, Democratic Republic's Newspapers
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History of U.S. Relations with Congo, Democratic Republic

The United States first established diplomatic relations with the DRC in 1960. A crisis soon erupted in the country that drew the attention of the Eisenhower and Kennedy administrations. For 14 months after the outbreak of the crisis in July 1960, the threat of Soviet domination of the Congo through Soviet influence on the charismatic Patrice Lumumba and on his followers was a major concern of both Eisenhower and Kennedy. The formation of a moderate coalition government in August 1961 seemed to bring an end to the crisis, but the outbreak of hostilities in Katanga in September 1961 initiated a new phase.

 
By some accounts, the United States was involved in both the death of Lumumba and the coup of 1965 that brought Mobutu to power. Mobutu’s government received American (and CIA) support in the late 1960s and found American influence helpful in various economic and political disputes. Relations continued to be warm until the Zairianization decree of November 30, 1973, which led to the transfer of a large number of foreign-owned enterprises, including facilities owned by international oil companies, into Zairian hands. Thereafter, relations were chilly.
 
But in 1975, the United States and Zaire found themselves supporting the same faction in the Angolan civil war. At that point, US policymakers decided that it needed a stable Zaire for political and economic reasons in this part of Africa. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger’s first official trip to Africa in April 1976 included a long visit to Kinshasa.
 
The Carter administration, which placed great importance on human rights, posed a problem for the Mobutu regime, with its poor human rights record. For the first time, criticism of Mobutu by members of Congress and by voluntary agencies was met with some sympathy by a US president. However, the skeptical attitude toward the Zairian government was partially reversed by Cuban and Soviet military involvement in threats against Mobutu’s government. The United States refused to become involved militarily and sent only non-lethal military supplies, such as medical and transportation equipment. In 1980, the House of Representatives voted to end all military assistance to Zaire because of its poor human rights record and misuse of US aid. The Senate, though, reinstated the funds, reacting to pressure from Carter and American business interests in Zaire.
 
The election of Ronald Reagan to the White House was well received in Zaire, and American concerns about Mobutu’s human rights record died down. Mobutu again was seen as providing useful services to the United States in its struggle against the Soviet Union and Soviet allies such as Libya and Angola. As United States-Zaire relations became more visible in Washington, Mobutu became more active in promoting a positive image of himself and his country. Two Washington lobbying firms with ties to the Reagan administration received hefty contracts from Mobutu.
 
Nevertheless, in November 1990, Congress cut military and economic aid (except for some humanitarian aid) to Zaire, crystallizing the longstanding division between Congress and the executive branch and between liberals and conservatives on Zaire policy. As it adjourned, Congress denied the George H. W. Bush administration’s request for $4 million in military aid and stipulated that $40 million in economic aid be funneled through humanitarian agencies not affiliated with the Zairian government. Its decision was based on human rights violations—the September 1990 Lubumbashi massacre in particular—and accusations that Mobutu’s vast wealth was largely stolen from the Zairian people.
 
By 1992 the United States-Zaire relationship had reached a turning point. The end of the Cold War had diminished the strategic significance of Zaire to the United States and events in Zaire since 1990 had made it clear that Mobutu’s days in power were numbered. In 1991-92, the United States, together with Belgium and France, attempted to promote peaceful political change in Zaire by pressuring Mobutu to oversee the transition to democratic government and to depart voluntarily.
 
Opening the Secret Files on Lumumba’s Murder (by Stephen R. Weisman, Washington Post)
An Anatomy Of Autocracy: Mobutu’s Era (by Howard W. French, New York Times)
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Current U.S. Relations with Congo, Democratic Republic

Overall, relations between the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the US are positive. The US has played a part in the DRC’s peace process. In 2004, the US facilitated the signing of a regional security agreement between the DRC, Rwanda and Uganda. Burundi joined this Tripartite Commission in September 2005, and when this happened, the group was renamed Tripartite Plus. 

 
The US has also supported efforts by the UN to monitor the DRC-Rwanda border with a Joint Verification Mechanism and encouraged the governments of these countries to undergo internal reconciliation to further enhance security and stability and foster economic growth.
 
In 2006, 418 Congolese visited the US, a sizable jump of 168% from the 156 that visited in 2005.
 
DROC: Remarks (State Department)
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Where Does the Money Flow

US imports from the DRC include feedstuff and food grains, which increased from $678,000 in 2006 to $1.1 million in 2007; crude oil, which increased from $0 in 2006 to $41 million in 2007 (which was down from $85.8 million in 2003); “miscellaneous nonferrous metals,” which increased from $744,000 in 2006 to $1.37 million in 2007; “artwork, antiques, stamps, and other collectibles,” which increased from $4.1 million in 2006 to $6.1 million in 2007; and “gem diamonds-uncut or unset,” which increased from $67 million in 2006 to $147.9 million in 2007 (up from just $31 million in 2003).

 
On the decline were the following imports: “plastic materials” decreased from $144,000 in 2006 to $0 in 2007; “sulfur and nonmetallic minerals” moved down from $641,000 in 2006 to $269,000 in 2007; engines for civilian aircraft decreased from $1 million in 2006 to $0 in 2007; “furniture, household items, baskets” decreased from $44,000 in 2006 to $0 in 2007; and “other gem stones-precious, semiprecious, and imitation” decreased from $1.5 million in 2006 to $379,000 in 2007. 
 
US exports to the DRC included the following: wheat increased from $4.9 million in 2006 to $24.8 million in 2007 (which is up from $4 million in 2003); “agriculture industry-unmanufactured” increased from $1.46 million in 2006 to $3.15 million in 2007; plastic materials moved up from $716,000 in 2006 to $1.6 million in 2007; and drilling and oilfield equipment increased from $4.35 million in 2006 to $13.1 million in 2007. 
 
On the decline were “iron and steel products, other,” which moved down from $1.4 million in 2006 to $110,000 in 2007; “chemicals-organic,” which decreased from $2.15 million in 2006 to $1.5 million in 2007; excavating machinery, which decreased from $3.49 million in 2006 to $2.4 million in 2007; and “photo, service industry machinery,” which moved down from $1.168 million in 2006 to $211,000 in 2007. 
 
In 2006 the US gave $90.2 million in aid to the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The largest programs to receive aid were Crisis Assistance and Recovery ($40 million), Basic Education ($11.4 million), Maternal and Child Health ($8.7 million), Family Planning and Reproductive Health ($5.7 million), and HIV/AIDS ($4.0 million).
 
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Controversies

Human Rights Abuses Tied to DRC Copper Mining Company

In May 2008, a BBC report revealed that many US, British and Australian aid organizations (including USAID) and companies had invested in the devastated DRC economy. However, human rights abuses have been discovered, particularly relating to a company called Anvil Mining. Critics say companies like Anvil should not receive aid unless they take responsibility for past abuses and adopt new measures designed to clean up their operations.
 
World Bank Leader Caught Up in DRC Controversy
In March 2007, World Bank President Paul Wolfowitz visited the DRC in the wake of the recent presidential elections and growing controversy about the bank’s involvement in the country’s natural resources. The World Bank has supported reforms in the forestry and mining sectors and has come under fire from critics who believe that efforts to attract new investors are taking precedence over measures to protect local rights. Wolfowitz’s presence was thought to be intended as a signal to the business community that investment in the area is safe. But especially in the mining sector, local authorities have not been able to monitor, mitigate or manage the impacts of mining on the land or the local communities. Wolfowitz served in the Bush administration before taking over the World Bank, serving as one of the leading neo-cons who helped shape the administration’s anti-terrorism policy and favored the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq.
 
Western Nations Funding Rebel Wars?
In 2001, shortly after the assassination of Laurent Kabila, the Industry Standard revealed that the demand for Columbite-tantalite (coltan, for short), a material used in the making of cell phones, computer chips, stereos and VCRs, had given rise to a deadly trend in the DRC. Warring rebel groups had taken to exploiting coltan mining in order to finance their wars. Some groups have linked the exploitation of coltan with human rights abuses, including forced labor and child labor, and destruction of natural resources and habitats. Some have called upon cell phone companies Ericsson, Intel and Nokia to stop doing business in the region, but spokespeople say they are waiting for a UN embargo before acting.
Guns, Money and Cell Phones (by Kristi Essick, Industry Standard Magazine)
Congo: UN Says War Fueled by Foreign Firms (by David Usborne, The Independent)
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Human Rights

In all areas of the DRC, the government’s human rights record remained poor, according to the 2007 State Department report, and security forces acted with impunity, committing numerous serious abuses, including unlawful killings, disappearances, torture and rape, and engaging in arbitrary arrests and detention. Other problems included harsh and life-threatening conditions in prisons and detention facilities, prolonged pretrial detention, lack of an independent and effective judiciary, and arbitrary interference with privacy, family, and home also remained serious problems. Security forces recruited and retained child soldiers and compelled forced labor by adults and children. Members of the security forces also continued to abuse and threaten journalists, contributing to a decline in freedom of the press. Government corruption remained pervasive. Security forces at times harassed local human rights advocates and UN human rights investigators. Discrimination against women and ethnic minorities, trafficking in persons, child labor, and lack of protection of workers’ rights continued to be pervasive throughout the country.

 
Armed groups continue to commit numerous, serious abuses—some of which probably constitute war crimes—including unlawful killings, disappearances, and torture. They also recruited and retained child soldiers, compelled forced labor, committed widespread crimes of sexual violence and other possible war crimes.
 
In the east, security forces summarily executed civilians and killed civilians during clashes with illegal armed groups. Security forces arbitrarily and summarily killed civilians, often for failing to surrender their possessions, submit to rape, or perform personal services.
 
Police often arbitrarily arrested and detained persons without filing charges, often to extort money from family members. Authorities rarely pressed charges in a timely manner and often created contrived or overly vague charges. No functioning bail system existed, and detainees had little access to legal counsel if unable to pay. Authorities often held suspects in incommunicado detention and refused to acknowledge their detention.
 
The law provides for an independent judiciary; in practice judges, who were poorly compensated, remained subject to influence and coercion by officials and other influential individuals.
 
There were reports of political prisoners and detainees but no reliable estimates of the number. The government sometimes permitted access to political prisoners by international human rights organizations.
 
Soldiers, deserters and police continued to harass and rob civilians. Security forces routinely ignored legal requirements and entered and searched homes or vehicles without warrants. In general those responsible for such acts remained unidentified and unpunished. Security forces sometimes looted homes, businesses and schools.
 
Many human rights violations were committed by “mixed brigades,” created when renegade General Laurent Nkunda, based in North Kivu Province, agreed to “mix” his troops with pro-government troops. The five mixed brigades numbered approximately 12,000 soldiers, fewer than half of whom were thought to be loyal to Nkunda. The agreement disintegrated, resulting in increased fighting and abuses by all parties in North Kivu Province, as well as increasing ethnic tensions there. Nkunda, a former officer of the Rwanda-backed Congolese Rally for Democracy rebel group, and later a FARDC general, remained subject to a 2005 Congolese arrest warrant for alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity committed since 2002.
 
According to the UN Human Rights Council’s special rapporteur on violence against women, armed groups committed the majority of rapes in the east. They committed gang rapes, and often raped victims in front of their families, using extreme violence, threats and beatings. Government security forces, armed groups, and civilians perpetrated widespread and sometimes mass rape against women and girls. Prosecutions for rape and other types of sexual violence remained rare.
 
The law provides for freedom of speech and of the press; however, the government restricted these rights in practice. Freedom of the press declined as the result of threats and actions by government officials at several levels during the year. In August the UN's independent expert on human rights in the DRC noted dozens of cases in which security forces harassed and arbitrarily arrested journalists and other media personnel.
 
Corruption remained endemic throughout the government and security forces. The public perceived the government to be widely corrupt at all levels. According to the World Bank's worldwide governance indicators, official corruption was a severe problem. Weak financial controls and lack of a functioning judicial system encouraged officials to engage in corruption with impunity. Many civil servants, police, and soldiers had not been paid in years, received irregular salaries or did not earn enough to support their families, all of which encouraged corruption. Reports indicated that the mining sector continued to lose millions of dollars as a result of the corruption of government officials at all levels.
 
Both victims and the UN Human Rights Council's special rapporteur on violence against women cited widespread impunity as the main reason for sexual violence. Most victims did not have sufficient confidence in the justice system to pursue formal legal action or feared subjecting themselves to further humiliation and possible reprisal.
 
Child labor remained a problem throughout the country, and there continued to be reports of forced child labor. Although there were no reports of large enterprises using child labor, it was common in the mining and subsistence agriculture sectors.
 
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Debate
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Past Ambassadors

Note: The Embassy in Leopoldville (now Kinshasha) was established on Jun 30, 1960, with John D. Tomlinson as Chargé d'Affaires ad interim.

 
Clare H. Timberlake
Appointment: Jul 5, 1960
Presentation of Credentials: Jul 25, 1960
Termination of Mission: Left post, Jun 15, 1961
 
Edmund A. Gullion
Appointment: Aug 3, 1961
Presentation of Credentials: Sep 11, 1961
Termination of Mission: Left post, Feb 20, 1964
 
G. McMurtrie Godley
Appointment: Feb 20, 1964
Presentation of Credentials: Mar 23, 1964
Termination of Mission: Left post, Oct 15, 1966
 
Robert H. McBride
Appointment: May 10, 1967
Presentation of Credentials: Jun 29, 1967
Termination of Mission: Left post, May 16, 1969
 
Sheldon B. Vance
Appointment: May 27, 1969
Presentation of Credentials: Jun 28, 1969
Termination of Mission: Left post, Mar 26, 1974
 
Deane R. Hinton
Appointment: Jun 20, 1974
Presentation of Credentials: Aug 21, 1974
Termination of Mission: Left post, Jun 21, 1975
Note: Declared persona non grata by the Government of Zaire, Jun 18, 1975.
 
Walter L. Cutler
Appointment: Nov 20, 1975
Presentation of Credentials: Dec 23, 1975
Termination of Mission: Left post, May 9, 1979
 
Robert B. Oakley
Appointment: Nov 6, 1979
Presentation of Credentials: Nov 28, 1979
Termination of Mission: Left post, Aug 22, 1982
 
Peter Dalton Constable
Appointment: Sep 30, 1982
Presentation of Credentials: Oct 18, 1982
Termination of Mission: Left post, Aug 31, 1984
 
Brandon Hambright Grove, Jr.
Appointment: Aug 13, 1984
Presentation of Credentials: Sep 18, 1984
Termination of Mission: Left post, Sep 18, 1987
 
William Caldwell Harrop
Appointment: Dec 18, 1987
Presentation of Credentials: Jan 28, 1988
Termination of Mission: Left post, May 18, 1991
 
Melissa Foelsch Wells
Appointment: Apr 25, 1991
Presentation of Credentials: Jun 11, 1991
Termination of Mission: Left post, Mar 21, 1992
 
Note: The following officers then served as Chargés d'Affaires ad interim: John M. Yates (Mar 1992–Sep 1995), Roger A. Meece (Sep–Nov 1995).
 
Daniel H. Simpson
Appointment: Oct 3, 1995
Presentation of Credentials: Nov 23, 1995
Termination of Mission: Left post Jun 11, 1998
 
William Lacy Swing
Appointment: Aug 11, 1998
Presentation of Credentials: Oct 13, 1998
Termination of Mission: Left post Aug 11, 2001
 
Aubrey Hooks
Appointment: Jul 12, 2001
Presentation of Credentials: Sep 4, 2001
Termination of Mission: Apr 17, 2004
 
Roger A. Meece
Appointment: May 14, 2004
Presentation of Credentials: Aug 3, 2004
Termination of Mission: Left post, Aug 14, 2007
 
 
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Congo, Democratic Republic's Ambassador to the U.S.
ambassador-image Mombouli, Serge

Serge Mombouli has served as ambassador of the Republic of Congo to the United States since July 2001.

 
Born on July 22, 1959, in Pointe Noire, Republic of Congo, Mombouli grew up the son of a diplomat and Congolese statesman, in a family of 10 children.
 
He graduated with a degree in tourism management from the Superior Institute of Tourism in Paris, France. He also holds a bachelor’s degree in corporate law from the National Conservatory of Arts and Professions.
 
His career began at Air Afrique in the corporate sales department in Paris.
 
Later, Mombouli became vice president of AWE Group Inc. in Houston, Texas, and owner of P.I. Travel Corporation.
 
In 1995, he became vice president of the international operations and project development section of Transworld Consortium Corporation, a Houston-based company.
 
Two years later, he accepted a position as U.S. spokesman for Denis Sassou Nguesso, president of the Republic of Congo.
 
Mombouli was appointed charge d’affaires at the Congolese embassy in Washington, D.C., in November 1997.
 
Official Biography (Embassy of the Republic of Congo)

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Congo, Democratic Republic's Embassy Web Site in the U.S.

Embassy of the Democratic Republic of Congo

1800 New Hampshire Avenue NW
Washington DC 20009
Telephone: 202-234-7690
Fax: 202-237-0748
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Comments

Jedidiaih 6 years ago
May God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the creator of all lives and spirits see to it that those who have shad and are still shading much blood in DR Congo face the punishments due their evil deeds unless they repent. now I know that the people of DR CONGO are some miserable poor black Africans so they call us, but Satan never said let us create man in our own image; it was the Almighty God who created every living being so then those who are god's according to themselves will...

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U.S. Ambassador to Congo, Democratic Republic

Haskell, Todd
ambassador-image

Todd Philip Haskell, a career member of the Foreign Service, was nominated by President Barack Obama on January 17, 2017, to be the next ambassador to the Republic of the Congo.

Haskell was born in 1962 and is from Hewlett Harbor, New York, on Long Island. He graduated from Lawrence High School in 1980 and went on to Georgetown’s school of foreign affairs, where he earned his B.S.F.S. in 1984.

 

Haskell joined the State Department the following year. In 1986, he went on his first overseas assignment, as a general services officer and consul in Karachi, Pakistan, and moved to Manila as a consul in 1988.

 

In 1990, Haskell began a tour as a civilian observer in the multinational force in the Sinai Peninsula. He returned to more conventional duty in 1992, as consul in Poznan, Poland. Haskell returned to Washington in 1993 as an intelligence analyst in the State Department’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research.

 

Haskell was sent to Tel Aviv as consul in 1996. While there, he was involved in the case of an American teen arrested and held by the Israeli government in 1998. Hashem Mufleh was boarding a plane for the United States when he was arrested and subsequently held for three months without bail on charges of being a member of Hamas. As consul, Haskell monitored the case and urged his release.

 

In 2001, Haskell was sent to Mexico City as consul. He received his first African assignment in August 2003 as public affairs officer in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso. In August 2006, he took a similar role at the U.S. consulate in Johannesburg, South Africa. Haskell was sent to Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic in August 2010 as public affairs counselor.

 

Haskell returned to Washington in August 2013 for a stint as office director in the Africa Bureau’s Office of Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs, where he was a member of the Ebola communications task force. He was named deputy assistant secretary for Southern Africa in the Bureau of African Affairs in August 2015.

 

Haskell and his wife, Jennifer, have three sons: Michael, Jonah and Seth. Haskell speaks French, Spanish and Hebrew.

-Steve Straehley

 

To Learn More

Official Biography

Speech about State Department Policies & USAID Programs toward Africa at Africa Center for Strategic Studies (video)

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Previous U.S. Ambassador to Congo, Democratic Republic

Swan, James
ambassador-image

On October 8, 2008, James C. Swan was sworn in as Ambassador to Djibouti. After receiving a Bachelor of Science in Foreign Service from Georgetown University, Swan continued his education at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, where he received a Master of Arts in International Relations. Additionally, he also received a Master’s degree in Security Studies from the National War College, where he was a 2005 Distinguished Graduate.

 
During his professional career with the Senior Foreign Service, Swan has devoted most of his life to countries facing complex political transitions, primarily in Africa. Earlier positions in his career include Chief of the Political Section in Yaoundé, Cameroon (1992-1994) and the Somalia Watcher in Nairobi, Kenya (1994-1996).. In Washington, he served as the Desk Officer for Zaire (1996-1998). More recently his overseas assignment have included service as Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. Embassies Brazzaville, Republic of Congo (1998-2001 and in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo (2001-2004).
 
Swan served as the Director of Analysis for Africa in the State Department’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research (2005-2006) and was responsible for Central Africa and East Africa during assignment as Deputy Assistant of State for African Affairs beginning in December 2006.
 
Ambassador Swan announced in April of 2009, that the US Embassy in Djibouti would be formally upgraded by August 2011, costing $121 million. The new embassy, expected to be the largest structure of United States’ embassies in the Horn of Africa.
 

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