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The curse of tribe

The fighting in eastern Congo is not just a scramble for China's mineral dollars. Until the underlying tribal tensions are addressed, the region will never have peace

By Ben Simon   December 2008

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In his article “The curse of Leopold” ( Prospect, December), Tim Butcher argues that those who try to attribute the fighting in eastern Congo to tribal rivalries miss the point. The thirst for Chinese dollars, he said, is the real destabilising force. But Butcher has seriously underestimated the role tribe plays in this conflict.

Late in October, fighters from Laurent Nkunda’s rebel army were scattered in the tall, thick elephant grass in a valley about 10 kilometres south of Rutshuru, a strategic town in eastern Congo’s North Kivu province. They…

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