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As the Democratic Republic of Congo prepares to celebrate 50 years of independence from Belgium at the end of June, the African nation's dark and troubled past continues to haunt it.

Seven years after a 1998-2003 war, in which more than 5 million died and the economy was devastated, the country of 63 million people still suffers from extreme poverty and violence.

Sexual violence against women has risen, perpetrated by civilians, 17-fold in the past few years according to an Oxfam study.

Additionally, the recent mysterious death of Congolese human rights activist Floribert Chebeya highlights the serious challenges DR Congo faces for years to come.

Joseph Kabila, the Congolese president, has unabashedly expressed his desire to withdraw most of the United Nations peacekeepers before the big independence celebrations.


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The UN peacekeepers, also known as the United Nations Mission in DR Congo (MONUC), have faced their own critics as civilians have accused MONUC of cooperating with abusive Congolese soldiers.

On Wednesday's Riz Khan, we will ask: Does the Democratic Republic of Congo have reasons to celebrate and what does the future hold for the troubled African nation?

Riz will be joined by Didier Gondola, a Congolese-born professor of African history and Africana studies at Indiana University, Indianapolis; Krista Riddley, the director of humanitarian policy at Oxfam America, a non-profit organisation that helps to alleviate injustices around the world; and David Sullivan, a policy manager with Enough, a project by the Center for American Progress to end genocide and crimes against humanity.

This episode of the Riz Khan show aired from Wednesday, June, 16, 2010.

Source: Al Jazeera