From the Summary: "The Democratic Republic of the Congo, formerly Zaire, is a vast, resource-rich country of nearly 50 million people. In August 1998, Congo was plunged into its second civil war in 2 years. A peace accord was concluded in Lusaka, Zambia, in July and August 1999, and the United Nations later agreed to send peace monitors and protecting troops, in a force known as MONUC [Mission de l'Organisation des Nations Unies en République démocratique du Congo], to assist in the peace process. Deployment was slow, but the assassination of President Laurent Kabila on January 16, 2001, was followed by progress in the peace process under a new regime headed by Joseph Kabila, Laurent's son. On June 15, 2001, the U.N. Security Council approved plans to expand MONUC to its authorized level of 5,537 personnel. […] Congo was ill-prepared for independence in 1960; its first civil war broke out almost immediately, leading to U.N. intervention. U.S. policymakers took a strong interest in Zaire during the Cold War years because of its resources and central location, but relations with Mobutu cooled in the post-Cold War era. Policymakers initially welcomed Laurent Kabila's pledge of elections in 2 years, but problems in democratization and economic reform complicated relations. A limited aid program focusing on democracy, health, the private sector, and the environment was resumed. Secretary of State Colin Powell has urged all parties to respect the Lusaka agreement and said he is 'cautiously optimistic' about implementation."
CRS Report for Congress, RL31080