The Central Africa/Great Lakes Regions Declines Into Chaos

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The Central Africa/Great Lakes Region continues its steady decline into chaos. A recent report by The Forum for Peace highlights the increased risk of state collapse in the region.

The Washington, DC-based The Fund for Peace released its second annual Failed State Index and once again the Central Africa/Great Lakes Region occupied a significant percentage of the top 28 states at risk. Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) grabbed the highest risk rankings in the region; however, Rwanda, Kenya, and Tanzania moved towards stability.

In terms of risk analysis for the Central Africa/Great Lakes Region, the Failed State Index highlights a region that contains some 25 percent of the top at-risk countries in the world. In terms of rankings this includes: Sudan (1), DRC (2), Chad (6), Central African Republic (CAR) (13), Burundi (15), Uganda (21), and Rwanda (24).

The Index depicts a region that is sliding further into chaos each year. Sudan moved from third position in 2005 with a 104.1 rating to first at 112.3, which is the highest score achieved by any nation in the last two years. The DRC maintained its second place position but its overall scores deteriorated from 105.3 to 110.1. Chad, the Central African Republic, Uganda, and Burundi increased in their risk rating and moved up on the list.

This upward movement contrasts improvements in Rwanda, Tanzania, and Kenya. Rwanda moved from 12th on the list with 96.5 points in 2005 to 24th place in 2006 with an improved score of 92.9. However, the largest shift belongs to Tanzania which dropped from 32nd place in 2005 to number 71 in 2006 shedding nearly 13 risk points in the process.

Kenya improved its ratings from 92.7 to 88.6 but remained in the top 28 list in two categories—Mounting Demographic Pressures (9th of top 28) and Chronic and Sustained Human Flight (17th of top 28). It had a near miss in the Massive Movement of Refugees or Internally Displaced Persons creating Complex Humanitarian Emergencies category with a rating of 7.1 which is just barely outside the 7.2 rating of the last country in the top 28.

Each of these categories are middle-level correlative risk categories and definitely signal a trend towards internal unrest. The Great Lakes Centre for Strategic Studies (GLCSS)also believes there is an unrated factor of external pressure from Somalia cross-border criminality that has proved a destabilizing factor for Kenya.

Uganda scored risk increases in five of its 12 categories of which two were in the 15 to 16 percent range. In terms of points this was 1.6 and 1.5 additional points. In addition, there was nearly a one point increase in Group Grievances. This was not offset by slight improvements in four categories with the most notable being one point decrease in Demographic Pressures.

Although none of these categories are in high-risk correlative categories, they are solid level indicators of mid-range correlative risks. The strongest pressure on Uganda is economic decline and increased tension among the various ethnic groups of Uganda that feel disenfranchised. Uganda lacks significant external pressure and is resolving the IDP issue in the north, but its Delegitimization of the State rating is subject to decline, since it remained static in terms of rating and there is internal political pressure.

Rwanda demonstrated an improved risk situation with its score moving from 96.5 in 2005 to 92.9. The largest gains came from two economic indicators and reduced external threats. Although there has been external criticism of the government as being ruled by an economic elite, The Forum for Peace found that the category Uneven Economic Development along Group Lines showed an eighteen percent improvement by moving from a rating of 9.0 to 7.2. It is notable that this rating compares with Uganda’s 8.4 and Burundi’s 8.8. In addition, the overall economy showed a 12 percent rating improvement by moving from 9.2 to 8.0.

It also appears that Rwanda has moved in the right direction, according to The Forum for Peace, with its political decentralization and other reforms as its Legitimacy of State rating improved from 9.5 to 8.7. Unfortunately, Burundi continues to struggle with a Failed State Index ranking of 15 and a point ranking of 96.7. Burundi’s primary risk areas center around Demographic Pressure, Refugees, and External Threats with each area producing a score of nine for the first two and a 10 for External Threats.

GLCSS believes Burundi will continue to face demographic pressures from within the Hutu coalition and not necessarily from the direct Hutu/Tutsi conflict. This pressure will increase with the on-going negotiations with the FNL, the last remaining Hutu rebel group. Burundi will faces pressure to integrate the FNL soldiers into an army that already must be significantly reduced and to grant FNL political space in an environment that has been defined by elections and a constitution.

The primary risk, in the opinion of GLCSS, could be generated from expanding Hutu demands in Burundi that can only be satisfied by redefining previous political agreements. As this risk increases, it could spread to Rwanda through refugee pressure on its Southern Province.

Finally, according to the Failed State Index, Sudan, DRC, Chad and CAR remain the top risks in the region. The DRC and Chad scored in the top 28 nations in all 12 risk categories. Sudan followed with 10 and CAR with 8.

The weak internal structures of all four nations and the mobility of destabilizing militias leads to an increased forecast of regional strife. Chad and the CAR are already experiencing external pressure from Sudan-based militias, and this will continue to act as the primary risk catalyst. Without immediate action by the United Nations to secure the borders of Chad, the CAR, and the northeast of the DRC, which already has already become a base for militia from Chad and the CAR, regional instability will increase.

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