Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Mai-Mai, also known as "Mayi-Mayi", is a general term referring to a broad variety of Congolese militia groups active in the Second Congo War currently taking place in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Most were formed to resist the invasion of Rwandese forces and Rwanda-affiliated Congolese rebel groups, or out of simple desire for money from loot or cattle rustling. While militias have long been common in the Kivus, particularly among the minority Batembo and Babembe tribes, the recent instability have caused large numbers of town dwellers to form mai-mai. Although the Mai Mai, either as a group or as individual groups, were not party to the 1999 Lusaka Accord meant to end the war, they remain one of the most powerful forces in the conflict and their cooperation is vital to a successful peace process.
Groups that fall under the umbrella term "Mai Mai" include armed forces led by warlords, traditional tribal elders, village heads and politically motivated resistance fighters. Because Mai Mai have only the most tenuous internal cohesion, different Mai Mai groups have allied themselves with a variety of domestic and foreign government and guerilla groups at different times. The majority of Mai Mai are active in the eastern provinces of North Kivu and South Kivu, which have been under the control of the Rwanda-allied rebel Rassemblement Congolais pour la Démocratie-Goma (RCD-Goma).
Mai Mai in North and South Kivu
According to a 2001 UN report, 20,000 to 30,000 Mai Mai are active in the two Kivu provinces. The two most powerful and well-organized Mai Mai groups in the Kivus are led by Generals Padiri and Dunia. They are reported to have received aid from the government of the Democratic Republic of Congo and are widely viewed by other Mai Mai groups as the leaders, though not the commanders, of the Kivu Mai Mai. A number of smaller Mai Mai groups, such as the Mudundu 40 /Front de Résistance et de Défense du Kivu (FRDKI) and Mouvement de Lutte contre l'Agression au Zaïre /Forces Unies de Résistance Nationale contre l'Agression de la Républíque Démocratique du Congo (MLAZ/FURNAC), are reported to cooperate with the Rwandan military and RCD-Goma.
Walikale and Masisi north of Goma are the centers of Mai Mai activity in North Kivu. In South Kivu, there have historically been concentrations around Walungu and Bunyakiri south of Lake Kivu, around Uvira and Mwenaga at the northern end of Lake Tanganyika, further south around Fizi, and around Shabunda, between the Rwandan border and Kindu.
Mai Mai outside of the Kivus
There is a large Mai Mai presence in Maniema, in particular around Kindu and Kalemie. Province Orientale also hosts a number of Mai Mai, but these groups are apparently involved in long-standing ethnic disputes
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