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Vol 38 No 25

Published 19th December 1997


Congo-Kinshasa

Best friends, friends and foes

With little foreign aid to rebuild the country's shattered economy, the Kabila government will have to rely on private capital

The project to reconstruct Central Africa is moving painfully slowly and with very little money, over six months after the overthrow of Mobutu Sese Seko’s regime spurred hopes of a revitalised Congo. While Laurent-Désiré Kabila’s government has almost unequivocal backing from its neighbours (apart from Sudan) Western states are less convinced. They won’t finance a major reconstruction programme or even offer substantial forgiveness on the US$14.5 billion foreign debt (most of which was squandered by the Mobutu regime when it was a key Cold War ally). Instead, the West, along with the World Bank and International Monetary Fund, wants a gradualist approach premised on the Kabila government’s progress in economic and political reform.

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