Despite several peace agreements of which two, involving major influential belligerents, were signed in 2002 and 2013, DRC was in 2015 still hosting 70 active rebel groups operating in the East. Many of those involved mentioned the failure orabsence of Disarmament Demobilization and Reintegration (DDR) programmes as well as the failure of the government to offer alternative livelihood solutions to ex‑combatants among the factors that resulted in the proliferation of armed groups.
The peace process ironically worsened the political dynamic. The 2002 agreement, which marked the beginning of a transitional government, together with a series of demobilization and reintegration initiatives, contributed to a fragmentation of the political scene which in turn gave rise to the same phenomenon within armed groups. While provincial and national parliaments were multiplying, some leaders started using armed groups to intimidate their rivals and strengthen their reputationas strong men, thereby pressurising militias into political activities. These developments gave rise to escalation of violence as politicians and communities were mobilized to respond to violence with violence over leadership disputes. At the same time the government used the army on a clientelist basis, causing dissatisfaction and defections that ended with the fragmentation of rebel groups backed by opportunist politicians. To date DRC has millions of (ex-)combatants, mostly youth originally enrolled by force and with no clear economic opportunities or prospects. Six former rebel leaders are currently being tried at the International Criminal Court.