Friday, March 21, 2008

POLITICS-DRC: In a Governmental Vacuum, Yearnings for a Lost Empire

POLITICS-DRC: In a Governmental Vacuum, Yearnings for a Lost Empire

By Michael Deibert

Inter Press Service

MATADI, Western DRC, Mar 21, 2007 (IPS) - On a broad hillside high above the meandering flow of the Mpozo River, a handful of policemen guard a ruin.

The flag of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) flutters weakly over scattered bricks and broken crockery, mute witness to a power struggle that has erupted in this western corner of the country, pitting a sect seeking to restore a lost ethnic kingdom against a government that seems determined to crush any challenge to its authority.

"Here are their arms, their fetishes, you can see them here," says Edmond Bunga, a local commander of the Police Nationale Congolaise (Congolese National Police, PNC), pointing towards what he claims are poisoned arrows used to attack police in the devastated compound of the Bundu dia Kongo (BDK) or "Kingdom of Kongo", as Congo is spelled in the local Kikongo language.

The BDK, led by Ne Muanda Nsemi, a member of Congo's parliament who hails from the region, have stated that their goal is nothing less than to reunify the Kingdom of Kongo. Made up of the Bakongo people -- found in the DRC and neighbouring states -- this empire existed in various incarnations for nearly 500 years until the early 20th century, encompassing swaths of what is now Angola, Gabon, the Republic of Congo and the DRC.

However, the government accuses the group of attempting to mount a rebellion in the Bas-Congo province, immediately west of the nation's capital, Kinshasa.

Read the full article here.

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