The overthrow of the long-term dictator Mobutu Sese Seko by a rebel Tutsi army backed by Uganda and Rwanda in 1997 acted as a catalyst for a war with regional dimensions, mainly fought in the eastern Kivu provinces. The conflict escalated in 1998, when President Laurent Kabila, then backed by Zimbabwean and Angolan troops, ordered Rwanda and Uganda to leave. After Kabila’s assassination in 2001, his son Joseph took over the presidency and won in the 2006 democratic elections.
In the eastern provinces, Tutsi-led militias, mainly organised in the National Congress for the Defense of the People (CNDP), fought the remnants of the Rwandan Hutu force FDLR, with further involvement of Rwandan and Ugandan troops. Other regionally operating militia groups, like the Lord’s Resistance Army from Northern Uganda, the so-called Mai Mai groups or short-lived guerrilla outfits like the March 23 Movement (M23) further contributed, and still contribute, to the complexity of the situation in eastern DRC.