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This book examines a decade-long period of instability, violence and state decay in Central Africa from 1996, when the war started, to 2006, when elections formally ended the political transition in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). A unique combination of circumstances explain the unravelling of the conflicts: the collapsed Zairian/Congolese state; the continuation of the Rwandan civil war across borders; the shifting alliances in the region; the politics of identity in Rwanda, Burundi and eastern DRC; the ineptitude of the international community; and the emergence of privatised and criminalised public spaces and economies. This book seeks to provide an in-depth analysis of concurrent developments in Zaire/DRC, Rwanda, Burundi and Uganda in African and international contexts. By adopting a non-chronological approach, it attempts to show the dynamics of the inter-relationships between these realms and offers a toolkit for understanding the past and future of Central Africa.