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

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Did MONUSCO prevent Congolese army from attacking?

A slight correction––I mentioned in the previous blog post that the UN mission had never prevented the Congolese army from attacking the M23, contrary to popular perception in Goma. I was wrong. While for several days this perception stemmed solely from (distortions of) statements made by diplomats such as Mary Robinson––the reason the FARDC had not advanced during the 14 July firefight was because they had not received orders from Kinshasa, not because of UN intransigence––there was at least one incident of UN interposition. According to diplomats, during the morning of 16 July, UN tanks did block the advance of Congolese T-55 tanks to the frontline for an hour. Also, in May, the UN dissuaded the army from using its attack helicopters during a visit by Ban Ki Moon to Goma.

It is unclear whether this was UN policy, and if so what the reasoning behind it was. As previously mentioned, the UN is stuck between its aggressive mandate and peace talks, leading to a somewhat schizophrenic policy. Tensions have also arisen within the UN mission, with at least one of its contingents internally disagreeing with the new force commander that all UN troops––not just the Intervention Brigade––are supposed to participate in robust, offensive operations against armed groups.

It is, however, also clear that there has been a lot of distortion of what UN policy really is by local media and civil society.


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bfhend said...

This all seems like water under the bridge now...it is clear the UN is not blocking the FARDC from carrying out offensive operations. There has always been a delicate balancing act between dismantling the M23 as a destabilizing insurgency without triggering a full-blown Rwandan intervention - the worst case scenario. I don't blame Mary Robinson (or any diplomat) for trying to prevent an escalation into an interstate war that seems likely to turn into a quagmire in which there is no endgame in sight.

The Congolese people have every right to expect their armed forces to defend their national sovereignty - and to impose state control over rebel insurgents. As always, the question remains is the FARDC (even with UN support) ready to deal with any contingency that might arise?

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