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

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Guest blog: The DRC neutral force is a dangerous distraction

This is a guest blog by Nickson Kasola, the director of Centre pour la Gouvernance, a non-profit conducting research on democracy and governance based in Kinshasa. Their report on the recent fighting in the eastern Congo can be found here.

Our regional leaders have got two things right about the crisis gripping the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). One: that it needs their urgent attention. Two: the leaders of the Great Lakes countries, including their east African members, have a crucial role to play in bringing stability. But they are failing to do what they need to.

In the next days the International Conference on the Great Lakes region (ICGLR) will discuss sending a ‘neutral force’ of yet more soldiers to Congo that they say will help bring peace. Plunged deeper into conflict and chaos since the April emergence of the M23 armed group there and the increased activity of other armed groups, it could appear to the inexperienced eye that a military response by a ‘neutral international force’ would fit the bill. But in fact this is not the case; their public muscle flexing has merely allowed these nations to avoid the political heavy lifting they must do. 

What needs to happen is an urgent end to Rwandan support to the M23. The illegal backing that Rwanda has already given the rebel group, including arms and ammunition, has bolstered the group immensely and turned it into a real threat to the DRC government’s control of a part of North Kivu province. In addition, as the Congolese army has focused on fighting the M23, other armed groups have taken advantage of government weakness and expanded their control. The result is catastrophic: Hundreds of thousands have been displaced by fighting by the in eastern DRC this year alone. A vast area has been destabilized. 

ICGLR members should be putting all the diplomatic pressure they can on Rwanda to stop. Focusing instead on a ‘neutral force’ is a massive distraction at a crucial moment. 

The truth is that these troops, if they materialize, will not be able to deal any more effectively with the armed groups that have been terrorizing our communities for many years than any of the other soldiers who have tried, including UN and Congolese troops. They will perhaps be able to force groups out of areas temporarily but will not be able to destroy them completely.  As battles rage back and forth over “territory” – the homes of ordinary people – it will be civilians who suffer most: yet more children, women, men will be forced to flee. Yet more people will die, yet more children will miss out on schooling. And if the force includes troops from Congo’s neighboring countries, they may pursue their own agenda while on Congolese soil, rather than working in our interest.

Ideally, the Congolese army should be able to put down the M23 rebellion and to provide our communities with the security we need, but it hasn’t been able to. Our government should do more to make sure its army in the east is well-trained and properly provided for and ends its abuse of civilians. We need better, more decentralized governance that actually works and we need real, local political dialogue across the country that means Congolese have a voice in what happens in their country. If the other ICGLR members truly want stability in eastern DRC they must push our government to listen more to its own people.   

The ICGLR countries should immediately begin to improve relations between DRC and Rwanda, who. have shown they are unable to do this without international mediation. The ICGLR, together with the AU Peace and Security Council, could do just this, perhaps with European or American support. But above all, the ICGLR’s members must be brave enough to speak to the real failures of Rwanda and DRC and seek practical solutions for the sake of ordinary people whose lives area again being needlessly ruined by conflict. 


Unknown said...

Another dangerous distraction the guest blogger omitted to mention is implicating Rwanda at all.
The question analyst should ask is "Who is distracting who and why?”
Kabila and his party are the only who have politically benefited from the M23 rebellion. After fraudulently being elected, Kabila noted that this time he is not going to get away with it easily. Kinshasa was in a mood of revolt and at the exception of Didier Reynders there was no one else in the IC who endorsed Kabila's self-proclamation as president elect of DRC.
Kabila then wanted to have international credibility and rally all congolese around a common enemy. That is how he started to tell the west that he is going to handle Ntaganda to the ICC. The west rallied him.
But Kabila had something in mind. He did what they call in French” faire d’une pierre deux coups” or kill two birds with one stone. Instead of arresting Ntaganda, Kabila did everything to make sure Ntaganda leaves Goma and go into his farm in Masisi. Kabila pushed the Makenga's group of former ex-CNDP's into revolt when he abruptly decided to transfer them away from the Kivu; he knew that the 23 March 2009 agreement was not fully implement and rwandophones were still under threat from Raia Mutomboki, Fdlr and other mai mai militias. So in brief, Kabila did everything to push the rwandophones into a revolt. He knew the resentment of majority of Congolese against this community.
There will be always accusations against Rwanda, because the confusion of Rwandan and rwandophones is intentionally maintained. If Rwanda had half a battalion in Congo (with official approval from Kabila) and all minerals from eastern Congo were transiting through Rwanda, as many reports suggest, what interest Rwanda had to start another rebellion?
Pressure should be put on Kabila and his government to sit down and discuss with M23.

Congo man said...

Yes we have been saying this all along .this has been a distraction and wast of time. I think this has not just given the m23 terrorists a more needed time to rearm ,recruit more Children and reorganize ,but it has also relaxed pressure on Rwanda and we are now starting to see Countries like the GREAT BRITAIN releasing parts of their aid etc...I think going for this so called neutral force was yet another big mistake by the DRC government.I said this since the so called KAMPALA meetings that Museveni organised just to cover his involvement in this mess.the DRC government should'v boycotted all this wast of time and work with SADC instead of some EAST AFRICAN countries that are more likely to be iwnfluenced by RWANDA or UGANDA. If MONUSCO is stil in the region why look for a force from elsewhere instead of just changing MONUSCO's mandate ? Under who's command will those neutral forces be?what will be the role of MONUSCO ? I totally agree that this is a wast of time that will not bring any peace to this Region .more pressure on PAUL KAGAME and both economic and military embargo on RWANDA Is the only way to start bringing peace to the Region .

Congo man said...

@Giza Roberto
Changing the subject to the elections and attempting to rally some Congoles behind your evil cause is not going to work .yes we all know the 2011 elections where not perfect and there was so much irregularities,but the last thing we need is for a Rwandan to lecture us about democracy .the subject here is the m23 terrorists who are rapping our woman ,displacing hundreds of thousands of families from their homes,recruiting children and turning them into little killing monsters and they are doing all of this with the help of PAUL KAGAME and JAMES KABARERE who have been arming and financing them in order to plunder the DRC 's vast mineral wealth.

June Sina said...

"The ICGLR should be putting more pressure on Rwanda".They can not,you need more than a bunch of baseless allegations to put a nation on pressure.As is evident by UK has realised the lies and soon all others will follow.I however agree with the author in his last paragraphs-Kinshansa shld build strong institutions like army and stop the uselss blame game

Unknown said...

@muana Congo,

Your president Kabila tried and played a dangerous game;but the truth is catching him.
You can't put millions of lives at risks, in two countries, just to cover up elections marred with fraud, and expect to get away with it.
if the "m23 terrorists" are your problem, you know where they are. Go and fight them.

Colored Opinions said...

Kagame's online army lecturing us on the value of democratic elections kind of takes the cake.

Unknown said...

Following Mushikwabo on France 24, and i cant believe my ears. Kabila must really leave power, i cant understand how he has brought us so low.

Basically the new Rwanda defense line is : we are innocent, Congolese blame the world for their problems , we never helped M23, all reports are untrue and have not a once of truth. The only honest broker in the region is Kigali.

Kabila does not represent me and many of us, Kabila duplicity and utter incompetence does not represent Congolese competence.
I really hope that the impeachment against Kabila will work, he is unfit to be president of DRC.

Dear Congolese brothers and sisters we don't have a government to speak for the congolese peoples , for our nation every where we are let's be ambassador of the best our country can offer.

Soon all our traitors from inside and our killer from outside will have to reckon our force.

For our 6 millions deads and the millions still displaced and living in hellish conditions in kivus , we can never stop fighting.

Time of reckoning is arriving.

Unknown said...

Congo does not need rwanda ( if anything rwanda needs congo). I wonder why our gouvernment is still having bilateral relations with this country ? why hasn't President Kabila recalled the ambassador from Kigali yet ?? congolese people are so tired of kigali and its malicious behaviors. We will no longer be submisive to Rwanda's WILL under international pressure. the congolese gouvernment need to understand that it has no room for error this time. congoleses are ready to do whatever it takes to trace their own destiny, should it take blood and tears. Many of Kabila supporters (me included) are watching him carefully.

H Stewart said...

@ Congo Man

" If MONUSCO is stil in the region why look for a force from elsewhere instead of just changing MONUSCO's mandate ?"

Exactly but it isn't so much the mandate but the Rules of Engagement that need to change. M23 would collapse if MONUSCO were able to act rather than react

Congo man said...

@H Stewart and Itachi Uchiha
I can't agree more .thank -you

Unknown said...

Why Rwanda cannot let eastern DRC go, in french but interesting :

grand stick said...

ICGLR is far more likely to achieve results than MONUSCO.

grand stick said...

MONUSCO contributing countries will in no way put the lives of their troops at significant risk for the DRC... Been proven by their comportement for years. It's a travesty of a PKO. Get rid of them and let the AU and ICGLR act on ungoverned space

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