Congo awards Zimbabwe with mining concessions

Congo has created a joint “cooperation commission” with its military ally Zimbabwe, whose help in Congo’s nearly three-year war has been rewarded with lucrative mining concessions, the Associated Press (AP) reported Saturday.

The commission appeared to be an attempt to cement Zimbabwe’s gains ahead of any possible peace deal and withdrawal of foreign troops, the AP reported.

“Let’s face it, the Zimbabwean government has helped us a lot during this war,” Foreign Affairs Minister Leonard She Okitundu said Friday, signing the commission into existence with his Zimbabwean counterpart, the AP reported.

The commission would focus primarily on economic cooperation between the two countries, particularly mining, Okitundu said, the AP reported. He gave no details.

Congo has some of the world’s largest reserves of cobalt, diamonds, and other riches.

The conflict started in 1998 when rebels backed by Rwanda and Uganda launched offensives to topple Congo’s government.

The government lost control of about two-thirds of the vast country and holds the rest with the military help of Zimbabwe, Angola, and Namibia.