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Congo: The Prize of Predation

Ola Olsson () and Heather Congdon Fors ()

Journal of Peace Research, 2004, vol. 41, issue 3, 321-336

Abstract: The article analyzes the war against Mobutu (1996-97) and the more recent war (1998-) in the Democratic Republic of the Congo with particular attention to greed and grievance as motivating factors in these two wars. Whereas the authors’ usage of the term ‘greed’ simply reflects the desire to gain control of natural resource rents, they model ‘grievance’ as deliberate institutional differences, implemented by the ruler, between the formal and informal sectors. On the basis of quantitative and qualitative evidence, the authors outline a model of a predatory conflict between a kleptocratic ruler and a group of potential predators within a given region. The potential predators choose between peaceful production and predation on the ruling elite, who control the country’s natural resource rents. It is shown that institutional grievance between the formal and informal sectors, along with the relative strength of the ruler’s defense, play a key role for the initiation of a war. This observation is used to explain the timing of the two wars analyzed in this article. The model also shows that once a war has commenced, the abundance of natural resources and the ruler’s kleptocratic tendencies determine conflict intensity. This result is also well in line with experience from the most recent Congolese war.

Date: 2004
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