Painting by Cheri Samba

Lokuta eyaka na ascenseur, kasi vérité eyei na escalier mpe ekomi. Lies come up in the elevator; the truth takes the stairs but gets here eventually. - Koffi Olomide

Ésthetique eboma vélo. Aesthetics will kill a bicycle. - Felix Wazekwa

Friday, October 1, 2010

Mapping Released and Welcomed by DRC Government

The UN mapping report is out! (available here) Not a whole lot has changed. After a legal review, the allegations of genocide have been couched in more cautious terms, and various arguments are considered for why it may not have been genocide after all. This version also includes comments from the Congolese government, and other governments have been offered to post their responses on the UN High Commission's website.

Perhaps the more important development is this Op-Ed written by the DRC ambassador to the UN Atoki Ileka on the Huffington Post, which has also been sent to the press as the Congo's official response to the report. In it, he welcomes the report, saying it is "detailed and credible," before focusing on what must come next. He suggests that President Kabila has always wanted an international tribunal, but that international and Congolese experts should convene in Kinshasa to study the different options. That sounds like an invitation for the UN to organize a conference.

Strangely, Ileka does say that this is his "personal opinion" - how can one write an Op-Ed as DRC ambassador and then say it's his personal opinion? That might just be the government protecting itself - apparently President Kabila personally tasked Ileka to write the response, so we can be optimistic that this is the official response.

However, at the same time, Ileka says: "In addition to seeking justice for the victims of the terrible crimes, we also seek to improve diplomatic and brotherly relations with all our neighboring countries for a lasting peace."

How will they balance this push for justice with their "brotherly relations" with Rwanda?

Kabila just finished a tour of the East during which he met with President Kagame several times. However, apparently the Rwandan government lobbied Kinshasa hard to denounce the report. Foreign Minister Louise Mushikiwabo was calling the Congolese delegation to the UN General Assembly to put out a joint statement, but (according to people in the delegation) they let the phone ring.

It will be a fine line to walk between brotherly relations and justice.

12 comments:

Rich said...

Hey Jason,

That’s a fair comment.

As to the fine line between brotherly relations and justice, I think one has to remember that Rwanda cannot sustain an interminable war in the DRC without the backing of its traditional allies who are now backing off due to the humanitarian tragedy that has taken place in the region for the last two decades.

Remember, foreign aid makes up to 50% of Rwanda’s national budget. Late in 2008 the Dutch and Swedish governments showed their unease with the worsening humanitarian situation in the DRC; a few weeks later they either reduced their aid to Rwanda.

The same year, Tony Blair visited Rwanda to get Kagame to ask Nkunda to disband his men. Referring to the humanitarian tragedy in the DRC, Tony Blair told the BBC's Focus on Africa programme, I quote, "Neither country in truth has any interest at all in having this humanitarian disaster unfold and these forces continue," he even went on to call Nkunda’s ambition to march on Goma, quote, "plainly absurd".

We all know what happened to Nkunda only a few weeks after Tony Blair’s visit to Rwanda.

Having said that, I’m not naive enough to think that what Tony Blair says will be followed at a 100% rate by Rwanda; however, it is a sign to show that traditional backers of Rwanda are not longer keen in seeing Rwanda being associated with tragedy in that region and this can only help stem down some exaggerated ambitions.

I think Kinshasa’s position seems realistic as long as they can show that the territory of the DRC can no longer be used as a safe haven for armed gangs and destabilising forces in the region. This means Kinshasa must be serious about getting the army and security sector restructured and bring the level of ethnic and tribal hatred in the Grand Kivu to a manageable level. In this way, Kinshasa should be encouraged to foster with its neighbours a relationship that is responsible and of mutual respect; but not being bullied into a relationship that serves to cover up someone’s mess whilst sacrificing its own safety and national identity pride.

We cannot say it loud enough, allowing the truth about the recent hatred and deadly conflicts in the African great lakes to come out and be dealt with in a reconciling way is in no shape of form declaring war to Rwanda. Unless the Tutsi led regime in Rwanda and the transnational Tutsi elite is determined to dominate the region through defiance and calculated violence.

There is a way for Kagame to help bring peace in the region but this should not be through defiance or calculated violence because that will only water the roots of hatred and vengeance that feed the infernal cycle that has produced rounds of victorious victims over the years.

Readers, it's just an opinion and through this, I'm in no way, demanding to be treated with outrage; if that's OKAY!

A suivre en tout cas...

Jason Stearns said...

Rich -

The diplomatic rumor mill in London suggests that Tony Blair shared some harsh words with Kagame's office over the mapping report. Apparently, he was shocked that Rwanda would threaten to withdraw troops from Darfur and told Kigali that they would look increasingly like a tin-pot dictator if they did that. Of course, I imagine that Blair would be worried about his own reputation as an advisor to Kagame.

Peter said...

I wonder if the Anglo-Americans will be willing to send their own forces to Darfur and Somalia? When you bring out the whip, you may enforce obedience ... or inspire rebellion.

Eugenia said...

The Dutch and Swedes suspended one planned general budget support payment in 2008, no cuts to overall aid levels and disbursal has resumed since. The UK and the US, much more important donors, did not delay or suspend any aid disbursements in 2008 and distanced themselves from the Dutch and Swede actions. Donors are at best nervously sending mixed signals to Kigali, certainly not the strong unified message which is required.

Peter said...

"Donors are at best nervously sending mixed signals to Kigali, certainly not the strong unified message which is required."

If you care to pay any attention, Rwanda is of strategic importance to the Anglo-Saxons in their African grand strategy. If they lose Kigali, then their plan, centered in East Africa, comes undone. The Chinese are making efforts to woo the Rwandans from the Anglo-Saxon camp, which are apparently proving effective. So the Anglo-Saxons are in a bind. They're making a lot of threatening noises to scare Rwanda ... but those very threats may actually serve to drive the Rwandans to the Chinese even more quickly. The whole Darfur thing is aimed at China ultimately (the Chinese get 12% of their oil from Sudan and Darfur and Southern Sudan are oil-rich areas), and if Rwandan troops suddenly leave, then this complicates the grand strategy significantly, especially seeing as the oil-rich Southern Sudan is set to break off in the near future to join the East African anglosphere.

So simply cutting off aid isn't as simple as it seems. If they cut aid, then they lose Rwanda. Can they afford to lose Rwanda? For if Rwanda goes from the Anglo-Saxon camp, then wither goes the other East Africans?

The Anglo-Saxons have a lot at stake with Rwanda. And they're not going to let go easily. As we're all coming to see.

Rich said...

@ Eugenia

Thanks for the comment. I meant to say, there are signals (perceptible enough or not) telling Kigali that it is possible to do things differently and things cannot be the same forever. The contexte is changing very fast.

16 years into power, Habyarimana's regime seemed very stable but we all know how things enfolded. In 1980, who thought Mobutu’s honeymoon with the West would come to a bitter ending?

I agree with you that signs may not be strong enough but there are strong evidences to learn from; someone said once, history repeats itself because we never listened to it.

There is nothing to do with oil, east African Anglo-Saxons strategy or China; most of Kagame’s current standing stems from the 1994 genocide legacy. I think, blemishing the last drops of goodwill will not only be guttering for the Tutsi led government of Rwanda but may make history to repeat itself, promoting, this time round, a new version of victorious victims.

Just an opinion nothing more.

À suivre…

Peter said...

Pray tell, how is history going to repeat itself? Who is going to commit genocide against whom? The "Tutsi" against the "Hutu"? I think if the so-called "Tutsi" had ever wanted to commit genocide, they could have done so by now. It ought to be clear to all and sundry by now that the "Tutsi" don't have the intention of doing so.

So who's going to commit genocide? The "Hutu" against the "Tutsi"? But the people who wanted to do that have been defeated. Sure, they're still around, and now are in the European capitals (and their various NGO groupies) doing their best to destabilize Rwanda and all the progress that's been made, but it's difficult to see how they can effect genocide. By having Ingabare let loose to try and stir division in order to "finish the job"? Hmmm, I can't see the Rwandan government allowing that to happen -- they're not that crazy. That's assuming that the Rwandan population is stupid enough to revert to violence and bloodshed at the drop of a hat in place of peace and development. The recent election results seem to show they're not as stupid as many outsiders want them to be. But even so, why allow troublemakers a free hand to try their darnedest to undermine the hardwon gains willy nilly if not altogether reverse them?

If outsiders can't live with Rwanda's success, then they can -- what was it? -- go hang. They and Rwandans will have to agree to disagree on this one. Otherwise, they're welcome to come to Rwanda and endeavor to make a citizen's arrest on Kagame or his military officers. Good luck to them on that one. ;)

Caity said...

Hi Jason (and others),

I have a quick question. (I'm new to studying Congo so bear with me....) Does this mapping report change any of our conceptions about the violence happening in the eastern regions today? I had assumed that, because the report ended in 2003 and the violence today is much more... muddled... few people would argue that the conflict as it remains today would be considered genocide. Yet someone I was talking to the other day argued that the conflict as a whole could be considered genocide now... which I was sure was wrong but I thought I should check with a real expert. Sorry for such a "beginner" question but I would love your (or anyone else's) opinion.

Thanks so much.
-Cate

ColoredOpinions said...

This mapping report makes it clear that Rwandan (and Congolese) in European capitals who have been claiming for years that there were massive crimes by the RPF against hutu refugees in Congo, were actually quite right. The word "genocide" refers to specific incidents recorded by the report.

Rich said...

I genuinely think we should stop this nonsense about distinguishing genocide (a super crime) and any other deliberate mass killing or severe human rights violation (non important crimes).

If any of us was injustly killed today, the loss and pain left to our family members can never be measured in terms of how we were killed or the intention of the person who killed us.

A crime is a crime and that what should matter the most. Classifying how people are killed by the intention of the people who killed them sounds clever but it is just a subjective exercise and a socially constructed manoeuvre made up to validate some given binary divides.

Politics always come up with binary divided terms such as genocide and non-genocide to validate certain political scores and cover up their own crimes and we don't have to agree with them.

Millions of innocent people have been killed, either directly or indirectly, as a result of the ongoing conflicts in the African Great Lakes region since the past two decades if not more.

This may not be stopped in one morning but denouncing or bringing to justice anyone found responsible of such killing (now or in the past) is the only way we can at least do some semblance of justice to the memory of the millions of innocents killed.

Killing innocents is bad enough and we shouldn’t need extra time and money to figure out what is or what is not a genocide before we can do something about stopping the killing of innocents from happening again.

Killing innocents or even an innocent is VERY VERY BAD; end of story and no one should do that and expect to be left alone.

C.T. Pope said...

Do you have the link for the French original?

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