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Will Clinton press for peace in Congo?

The US should encourage Congolese President Joseph Kabila to move beyond a military response to rebel groups to a more strategic effort to bring lasting peace, say security experts and human rights advocates.

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US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton addresses a press conference in Luanda, Angola, on Aug. 9. Congo is Clinton's next stop on her seven-nation Africa tour.

Aladino Jasse/Reuters

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As a top representative of the world's most powerful nation, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton might feel a certain tug to "fix" the next country on her seven-nation African tour, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

And why not? Congo has been the center of an on-again off-again civil war – funded largely by the control of lucrative mines by rebel militias – that has killed some 5 million people since the mid-1990s and turned one of Africa's richest sources of minerals into one of the world's poorest countries.

At present, Congo is carrying out a joint operation with the world's largest United Nations peacekeeping operation to eradicate a foreign militia that has had free reign in the eastern part of the country for more than a decade and that is blamed for the genocide of more than 800,000 Rwandans in 1994. If ever there was a country that would seem to need America's support, it is Congo.

Yet security analysts and human rights activists warn that the US should be careful in how it gives its support in Congo. The US should press the Congolese government to protect its citizens more, they say, and should press Congolese President Joseph Kabila to move beyond a purely military response to rebel groups to a more strategic effort to bring lasting peace.

Turning point?

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