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, December 26, 2012

The Kampala process: The mediators' view

An earlier version of this post mistakenly said that the ICGLR chair will pass to Congo-Brazzaville in January. Uganda will keep the chair for another year.

 The peace talks in Kampala kicked off on December 9th before adjourning for the holidays on December 21st. We will have to wait until January 4th for the resumption––time for reflection. Until now, the talks have been stuck in the preamble as the two sides haggle over procedure.

First, there was the issue of whether M23 military commanders could attend, then the Congolese government refused to sign a formal ceasefire. Most worryingly, the two sides come with radically different ideas of what needs is being negotiated: the Congolese government intends to listen to the M23's grievances and evaluate the March 23, 2009 agreement it signed with the CNDP and other armed groups; the M23 has voiced demands that range from electoral and security sector reform, to freeing Etienne Tshisekedi from house arrest, to knowing the truth about the attacks against Floribert Chebeya and Denis Mukwege.

Luckily for us, the Ugandan facilitation has compiled a list of the various demands, both as outlined by the March 23, 2009 deal and the twenty-one new demands made by the M23. This synopsis predates the Kampala talks but is useful nonetheless (see here). The facilitator, Defense Minister Crispus Kiyonga (accused by many Congolese to be too close to Mbusa Nyamwisi, a co-ethnic), has boiled these new grievances down to six:
  • Assassinations of ex-CNDP soldiers, in particular of forty-six troops in Dungu––Kiyonga said he could confirm these allegations and asked for an investigation;
  • Poor welfare of the army, in particular the embezzlement of salaries and poor living conditions––Kiyonga pushes for army reform;
  • Reluctance to carry out operations against negative forces (FDLR, ADF-Nalu)––Kiyonga does not dwell on this;
  • The marginalization of the eastern Congo, in particular the lack of infrastructure development and the embezzlement of revenues––Kiyonga does not dwell on this;
  • Cheating by President Kabila in the 2011 elections––Kiyonga does not dwell on this;
  • Kabila has not lived up to his campaign promises––Kiyonga does not dwell on this.
What about the March 23 Agreement? Here Kiyonga reports that Kinshasa has either made good or significant progress on 18 of the 24 articles, leaving six areas outstanding:
  • National reconciliation––the government says the Human Rights Commission is being set up for this, but Kiyonga thinks this is insufficient;
  • Community police––on a similar note, Kiyonga thinks more to be done to make this police force effective (even though in much of Masisi this police force had been hijacked by the ex-CNDP);
  • Management of territory––here Kiyonga contradicts himself, initially saying the government had taken satisfactory steps to begin decentralization, then later saying their efforts had been insufficient;
  • Return of misappropriated properties––Kiyonga says that not enough has been done on this, but it is unclear which properties need to be returned to whom;
  • Management of natural resources––most Congolese will snicker when they see Kiyonga suggesting that there needs to be a better management of resources. This was a very vague statement of principle in the initial March 23, 2009 deal, difficult to operationalize or evaluate;
  • International monitoring mechanism––the follow-up committee rarely met and President Obasanjo, the UN mediator, did not play a significant role after 2009.
 En bref, Kiyonga focuses on the March 23, 2009 deal, not on the new grievances, and thinks that Kinshasa has complied with most of the peace deal. But he does not chart out a very clear path forward, and the recommendations are broad and unwieldy. That, combined with the yawning gap between the Congolese government and the M23, means that a possible settlement is still a long way off.


Unknown said...

1. It will be interesting to see how political negotiations evolve under the auspice of Denis Sassou Nguesso, knowing the French leverage on Congo-Brazzaville. “ENFIN” (finally)…, this is a golden opportunity for France to dictate their agenda on Eastern DR Congo.
2. A positive point with Denis Sassou Nguessu is that he has good relationship with Etienne Tshisekedi. He may succeed bringing to the negotiation table the legitimate winners of the 2011 elections (i.e the so called “radical” political opposition). But Kabila and his government are not at all enthusiastic with this prospect. The legitimacy of the regime might be compromised if heavy weight opposition groups are directly represented as parties in the talks.
3. We should expect very aggressive discussions and a total collapse of the talks as earlier as before the end of quarter 1 2013. M23 is likely to dispute the partiality of Denis Sassou (and per ricochet France‘s partiality); on the other hand Kabila’s government will not accept anything close to a national dialogue on broader socio-political and economic issues.
4. Events are quickly unfolding in Central African Republic (CAR); unless a foreign military intervention outside the CEEAC region (almost all countries in this bloc are France clients), the fall of General Francois Bozize is a matter of days.
5. Forget the Chinese; it starts to look as if France is playing big across Africa with the aim of countering Anglo-Saxons penetration in the countries known as “pré carré Françafrique”.
3 or 4 years ago, the U.S. had made Mali a major partner. AFRICOM, the United States Africa Command, had targeted Mali, and they had actually made Mali a very close partner, because of the al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb. Then rebel advances and a military coup brought Mali on its knees. It is known in countries colonized by France that military coup d’etat can’t be successful without blessings from France military intelligence. Today France, through the UN Security Council, is advocating for a European (read French) intervention to “help” Mali regain its sovereignty. What an irony…
In CAR, Gen Bozize allowed in a small number of US green berets and Ugandan troops for hunting Kony. France has always perceived Uganda as spearheading the US penetration in Sudan and Somalia; Basically France was slowly but surely losing additional 2 of its pré carré countries (on top of Rwanda).
With the possibility of overseeing the resolution of Eastern DRC crisis, I can conclude that France is making a forceful come back in Africa. That may translate into many, many troubles ahead in Africa.

Unknown said...

Thanks so ever Jason. This is certainly the most significant article since Kagame’s M23 militia launched their war in April. This is because at long last M23 grievances are outlined (though still superfluously) by themselves and not through tendentious posts on Congo Siasa or speculations by analysts.

Then, what a shock and disappointment! This is because the revealed M23 grievances confuse more than they enlighten. They raise more questions than they provide answers. Just a few:

(1)Why exactly did they start this nth war? I know logics is enemy of politicians and war mongers. But any simple common sense should show that none of these grievances would necessitate this devastating violence and massive displacements of innocent people in the Kivus.

(2)We were told that some “systematic and state-led discrimination of Congolese Tutsis” in DRC was the main grievance. Well they seem not to say that. Even, that uncorroborated nebulous story of Tutsi troops killed in Dungu… or some deaths of any Tutsi officer are not enough. Compare that with those of non-Tutsi Congolese officers.

(3)The funniest of all the excuses is this supposed discrimination of the east by the west in Congo, and the lack of infrustracture in east… Wow, LOL! Besides Kin and L’shi, where else are infrustracture in DRC? In fact Goma or Bukavu are better than say Mbandaka, Kananga or Kikwit. North and South Kivus are not the least developed provinces in DRC, it is rather Equateur, Bandundu or Maniema. By the way, where do President JK or PM Matata come from? They are not Westerners. They are Kivutians. FACT.

In sum, the real cause of this war is a tabou for its instigators. M23 grievances don’t tell us what the “root causes” of this war are as Kagame and backers like to parrot. For argument sake let’s assume it is “bad governance” by DRCgov. The question is how do we bring transparent and durable good governance in Congo? Is it through never ending wars? How do we know that people are fit and good to govern, shall it be by their “race” or origin? How do we choose them? Or they just proclaim themselves as such?

NO. I think “good governance” in DRC can only come through “pluralist democracy”. And Congolese people should be given a chance to choose through regular elections whom they deem good to lead them. JK will not stand in 2016. M23, are you ready to present your case to the Congolese (or even Northern Kivutian) people? Or you only have AK 47 as your sole legitimacy?


Unknown said...

I can’t agree more with Gisa Rebero (point 3). M23 never meant to negotiate, they have no clear and consistent agenda like all rebellions in history because they are kagame’s creation. Because peace, cohabitation of communities and prosperity in the Kivus are not in their interest, M23 will find an excuse to leave the Brazzaville negotiations soon. If it is not cease-fire or Pres. Sassou, it will be the colour of the sky or something.
Problem is the tide is turning and time is running out for M23 and supporters.
Now that the truth is out, Congolese and all people of good should rather work on thrashing these enemies of peace and prosperity in the Great lakes.

(1)Without delay, MONUSCO mandate and capabilities should be revamped so it can help create before keeping peace in the Kivus. At last Ban Ki Moon says it too. But more and more bigger voices and friends of Congo are doing just that. Like the greatest Muhammad Ali (he has said publicly that he is Congolese) , Pres. J. Chirac, Abdou Diouf, Leymah Gbowee (Peace Nobel 2011), African music princess A. Kidjo, actresses Thandie Newton and Rosario Dawson and many more. (

(2)The homologation and deployment of African force should be expedited. AU SC meeting today.

(3)But first of all, that there is national consensus about the nature of this war and causes (infiltration and betrayal) of FARDC previous strange retreats are known, DRCgov should now prepare our soldiers to defeat the enemy. Popular resistance should be unleashed.

So, like with Al-Shabaab in Somalia Congolese people and the world are coming after you. What are you gonna do? There is an end to everything. Sad!


Virunga Mountains said...

I agree with you guys..keep up with that spirit of being objective!!
It pains to see and know in this stone-age,that the African intelligentsia is in a deep slumber

Though I'm not a fan of M23, I do feel sorry for folks like Abandi Rene-seeing him seated at the negotiating table trying to seal an impossible deal,I'm always taken back to CND talks in Nairobi and seeing Rene in the same spot, though different venue and still doing the same.
My point here is that; intelligent folks like Rene have become prisoners to bad politics.

I still think, its not too late for M23 to do the right thing and abandon Kagame's project and look at Congo as a whole.
The only way out for M23, is to topple Kagame-he's the Number 1 enemy of Banyarwanda in the Great-lakes.
None of the demands at the Kampala talks favor Congolese Kinyarwanda speakers but politicians.

If Banyamulenge are now working with FDLR to take-on anti Banyarwanda mai mai groups in south Kivu(its a fact and are the ones that always engage them) and have agreed on many issues like toppling Kagame's junta-why can't M23 join them to prove to the world that they've never been kagame's militia.

Instead of being played by politicians, why can't you also play them at their own game,what do you lack?
Maybe, its true what many banyarwanda have been saying that M23 n'injiji!

Unknown said...

@muana congo,
Actually Sassou's mediation could prove to be fatal to Kabila's regime. Have you forgotten how Holland took pleasure in humiliating Kabila in front of cameras? The message was sent primarily to Congolese citizen who voted Tshisekedi as their president, that France is on their side.
M23 rebels have always been asking for negotiations and the government refused until FARDC were militarily defeated in North Kivu. So it is not true to state that M23 is willing to stall the peace process. Also the rebels publicly stated their own grievances and they see them as root causes of the crisis. If you think otherwise, then it is your own opinion.
I think at this stage the Rwanda aggression card played by Kabila’s regime has become obsolete.
Instead of promoting FDLR propaganda, shouldn't you ask questions to Kabila why your Kinsman, the most senior officer Rutshuru has ever produced was assassinated this week in Kinshasa? Unless if you are, as you said , injiji kandi y'impumyi.

Virunga Mountains said...

Stop being naive!
why did kabila wait and kill General Bikweto Tuyenabo(RIP) on xmas day of all days??

Everyone knows that the plan was hatched by Bisengimana the son of Bisengimana Rwema!!!
M23 will not succed at gaining support among Kinyarwanda speakers by assassinating their sons and daughters-if anything, they're hardening our hearts!!

Virunga Mountains said...

Google translation:
Jamaica, Kintambo in the western part of the capital. Around 22 pm on the night of December 24 to 25, 2012, General Bikweto Tuyenabo escort had few visitors, according to stories intersected. He was on foot, and even sandals, a few steps from home when he realizes that the thugs were engaged in rapine and hideous acts against traders in the area. Reflexes military is well bonded to the skin, the General would see fit to intervene. It seems he was alone, without bodyguards. But he relied on his revolver and attached to the belt and tucked under the hip to try to correct the uncivil. He had not reckoned with the ambitions of his opponents irredentist impromptu. A few minutes later, his speech turns sour. An exchange of fire ensued. Then this is the death of General one side. And the other, one of the attackers got away with gaping wounds. Several sources away the assumption that there would be an organized attack against General rule because of its origins Rwandophones. Moreover, Lambert Mende, the government spokesman, has said so yesterday in a telegram arrived at Prosperity. The causes of this assassination would be to look elsewhere. Hence, the opening of an investigation announced by the government.

The night was dark nativity the district Jamaica, Kintambo. A group of armed robbers shot a hand up FARDC officer, a few meters from his residence while the latter, without guards came to escort visitors. He is the General Bikweto Tuyenabo, former commander of the military base in Kamina. To believe the evidence, the General was not the target of the attackers who apparently braquaient of traders near his home. It would have arrested the bandits who shot him as he unsheathed, to protect victims. This heroic death, said Lambert Mende, Spokesperson of the Congolese government has nothing to do with the origins of this Rwandophone General who, for some time, is unaffected.

Original document:

Rich said...

@ Gisa Robero -

Quite pathetic to see you try to cling on to anything you can to gain some sort of legitimacy for the M23.

Btw there is no unpopular/hated movement in the DRC than M23. I'm ready to bet my life on that fact to be right. Maybe time for its handlers to come up with something new coz all the demands they are adding only make them even more laughable.

A friend of mine was saying he saw an email where Congolese were being sarcastic abt M23 demands saying the next demand will be to decide a replay of a football game between TP Mazembe Vs Vita and the funny one was to replace letters L with R and vice versa. Meaning the DRC will be DLC; KabiLa will be KabiRa etc... since they run out of demands!

If anything, L D Kabila and his death have done enough to slow if not compromise kagame et al's ambitions in the DRC.

What makes you think or say Tshisekedi has good relations with Sassou?

I guess you mean the meeting on the fringe of the francophonie summit!

How about the fact that Tshisekedi himself said after meeting Holland, it's not for Hollande or Obama to decide on what Congolese want? I wonder what weight tshisekedi is likely to put on his "good relationship" with Sassou to change his views.

You said Hollande humiliating J Kabila. I don't know if you are aware of french's recent activities both at the UN (pushing for the DRC situation to be on the agenda) and within the political class (recent declaration from french politics and public figures) to PR the case of DRC.

Trust me I'm not trying to defend anything but it was important that we place the premises of your arguments into the real context.

Happy New year.


Unknown said...

M23 legitimacy is not something given by anyone on this blog. They gained the legitimacy by consolidating their political and military base. Like it or not, M23 are fighting for a genuine and noble cause. The propaganda and media narrative created by NGO’s and Kabila’s regime won’t sustain the test of times.
If M23 is that unpopular as you suggest, why the government is so afraid of their opinion to the point of shutting down the UN sponsored radio Okapi which aired only one interview with M23 leader?
It is a matter of fact that M23 has become an objective partner of the voiceless Congolese opposition and diaspora. Just read for yourself declarations from various political quarters and get sense of what is going on. M23 is mobilizing and they are gaining political momentum.
If you have read that letter in “le monde”, then you agree with me that its substance and political weight are much mitigated. For your information, a number of people (5 times the actual signatories) were contacted by the author and turned down the offer. Even those who signed it had requested changes so that the intended propaganda effect is minimized.

Rich said...

@ Gisa Rebero -

I could not resist the temptation to respond to your last post.

Ref # “M23 legitimacy is not something given by anyone on this blog.”

I agree and never suggested it was!

Ref # “They gained the legitimacy by consolidating their political and military base.”

Really? When? Where?

As far as I can tell M23 is an ideologically empty shell. This is shown by the inconsistency in their political demands as they keep moving the posts.

Yes M23 is a military tool handled by the kagame regime and this can be measured by the amount of sympathy from Rwandan diplomats and other pro-kagame loyals like we’ve seen on this very blog.

Ref # “Like it or not, M23 are fighting for a genuine and noble cause.”

Can you remind us what that "noble cause" was again since they kept on changing their demands over the last few months? By the way, M23 can’t be serious about democracy when they helped Kabila rig the elections in parts of N/Kivu where they have control. Also how can paulo kagame want democracy in the DRC when he is in fact reducing its (democracy) space in his native Rwanda?

Ref # “The propaganda and media narrative created by NGO’s and Kabila’s regime won’t sustain the test of times.”

You must be barking on a wrong tree if you think I’m here to defend Kabila or NGOs. My heart is with the millions of Congolese in the Kivus asking for no more than a swift disbandment of M23 and for Rwanda to deploy its expansionist ambitions within its tiny geographical boundaries and not in the peace loving DRC.

Ref # “If M23 is that unpopular as you suggest, why the government is so afraid of their opinion to the point of shutting down the UN sponsored radio Okapi which aired only one interview with M23 leader?”

FYI radio Okapi is and has been airing for a few weeks now does this mean the Congolese gvt is no longer “afraid” of M23? Your analogy seems flawed.

Ref # “It is a matter of fact that M23 has become an objective partner of the voiceless Congolese opposition and diaspora.”

Can you demonstrate that? I have links to videos showing Congolese in the diaspora angered whenever M23 takes a city. If that’s becoming an objective partner then I’ll have to agree with you; otherwise you’ll have to demonstrate your “matter of fact”.

Ref # “Just read for yourself declarations from various political quarters and get sense of what is going on.”

I’ll be more than happy to read those declarations if you are kind enough to share them with me.

Ref # “M23 is mobilizing and they are gaining political momentum.”

Yes this is perhaps the case in rwanda or indeed on this blog amongst pro kagame loyals like you.

Zi Zi Searles said...

I wouldn't place too much hope in Sassou. Kagame may of already offered him a closed door deal he can't refuse.

Besides Sassou is no fan of the Kabila regime. Sassou is looking out for the interests of Congo-Brazaville so he will be looking out for his interests with respect to an M23 outcome. He most likely will not be the DRC savior. I would wait and see how his leadership handles the situation before I get my hopes up. The Sassou leadership may not be a game changer.

Unknown said...

Hey Rich,

Thanks for proving my opinions right by "Reductio ad absurdum".

This holliday I am reading "Carnages. Les guerres secrètes des grandes puissances en Afrique " by Pierre Péan.
Helpful to understand what is going on in the mind of strategists of African policy in France.

Unknown said...


Funny. So when you make untrue sweeping statements and Rich demonstrates their falsity, you call that “reductio ad absurdum”! it is rather “mala fides” on your part. Rich never said your statements were stupid (absurd), he rather showed convincingly that they were untrue.

Strange. Though we don’t agree 99% of times, but you and James have always been “fair” in your arguments. But now you suddenly resort to gutter propaganda.

As Virunga Mountains eloquently showed about heroic General Bikwetu death, how do you associate every assassination in DRC with JK? Now, that is “absurd”.

Lastly you say about “le monde” article here “ a number of people (5 times the actual signatories) were contacted by the author and turned down the offer. Even those who signed it had requested changes so that the intended propaganda effect is minimized”.

Wow, how do you know that? Where did you get the list of those who declined? What is the original wording of the statement?


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