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

Sunday, December 9, 2012

What can we expect from Kampala?

The M23 and Congolese government delegation have finally begun negotiations today––it wasn't a very promising start, as both sides led off with accusations. 

Discussions will begin in earnest tomorrow. What can we expect?

These initial discussions will focus on the rules of the game––who participates (government, opposition, M23, civil society?), what is on the agenda (just the M23 agreement or much broader political issues?) and what the procedural guidelines will be. It is clear that the two sides will lock horns over all of these issues.

President Joseph Kabila's delegation, led by Foreign Minister Raymond Tshibanda, has said the talks will focus on the March 23, 2009 agreement––aside from the return of refugees, these are largely issues to do with the ranks and salaries of M23 officers, as well as the integration of their political cadres. One of the previous negotiators told me, "For us this is a matter of offering the officers positions in the army, the political demands are window-dressing." One of the current delegates suggested that they could integrate both political and military cadres, and that the main sticking points had to do with the most notorious human rights abusers, such as Bosco Ntaganda, Innocent Kaina, and Sultani Makenga. It's probably redundant to say: this cutting-up-the-pie logic has not been very successful in the past.

For the M23 much more is at stake. Their delegation, led by Executive Secretary Francois Rucogoza, has said they want to discuss the fraudulent elections of last year (which, ironically, some of their own officers helped rig), the "constitutional order" (they have said they want more decentralization or federalism), and justice for attacks against Dr. Denis Mukwege and Floribert Chebeya. "A lot has happened since the M23 deal," Bertrand Bisimwa, their spokesperson, told me, "we have political demands, too." He continued, "We know for them this is about partage des postes [a sharing of positions], but that is not what we want."

But, at the same time, contradictions plague each delegation. In the Kinshasa camp, there have been some sharp contradictions––General Olenga, the new land forces commander, has said they will continue to wage war against the M23, a view shared by many in the army who are dismayed at having to negotiate with their enemies once again. But Kabila and his inner circle seem sure they can strike a deal with the rebels. According to parliamentarians, when Prime Minister Matata Ponyo went to parliament recently and began to fiercely denounce "the Rwandan aggression," phone calls came from the presidency to ask him to stop. A close Kabila advisor also said "the boss" was not happy with General Olenga about his belligerent statements. Nobody, however, in the presidential camp seems ready to talk about constitutional reform, the rigged elections, or justice for Chebeya and Mukwege (although a bill on electoral reform was already being discussed before Goma fell).

In the meantime, the political opposition has declined the government's offer to participate, saying that the March 23, 2009 agreement had never been approved by parliament. Meanwhile, the Episcopal Conference (CENCO) made a strong statement, warning about "the trap of negotiations," and against "deals that could bring about the balkanization of the country." The M23, unfazed, has demanded that both civil society and the opposition take place in the negotiations.

In the rebels camp, tensions continue between officers loyal to Bosco and those close to Makenga (and by proxy, Laurent Nkunda), the so-called kimbelembele and kifuafua ("ahead-ahead" and "chest forward"). Baudouin Ngaruye, a Bosco loyalist, was recently promoted to the rank of general, reportedly without consulting Makenga, and M23 officials I spoke with in Goma were openly critical of one or the other camp.

The rifts between the two sides, as well as within each delegation, will make for a rough, and probably lengthy, ride.


blaise said...

the ICGLR is like ECOWAS for ouest Africa or Nato for the west.It's under the AU.It reunite all the neighbors of the DRC.
ICGLR= great lakes countries+DRC neighbors
SADC= countries of the south
EAC= countries of the East
Tanzania is member of SADC
Uganda is EAC
We all meet at ICGLR
"neutral Force"=4,000 from 10 countries of ICGLR(even south soudan!)
Goal:African solution 2 solve EastDRC once for
Case:Monusco no up for the task hence African solving African problems. Worthless Monusco will still help(sic?)

You have 2 remember that Uganda and Rwanda were excluded from the force until Goma fail and Monusco was ineffective.
Now ICGLR say it's their turn 2 solve the problem.

Unknown said...

Jason...Too much focused on putative division of m23 aka kimbelembele and kufuafua.

Rich said...

Jason -

Thanks for the insight as always!

M23. I wouldn't worry that much about the M23 contradictions as long as kigali is holding the strings and that kigali's handlers are not prepared to name and shame its destabilizing actions in E-DRC.

Govt: They are in a very bad shape since the fall of Goma and even before then, the gvt could only rely on the international community's good will since they had no plan A let alone a plan B should the military approach fail as we've seen from Bunagana to Sake and further S-W.

The gvt has no other option than hope M23 and its handlers grow shy (in fear of international pressure) to reedit the fall of Goma and/or beyond should the ongoing negotiations prove inconclusive.

Opposition: The moderate can seem a bit naive thinking they can be of any help hence be seen by their followers as committed to finding a solution

The other part of the opposition which refused to go to Kampala seems fearful to associate their names to what they predict to be a failure and for this reason, I cannot see them make any Christmas presents to Joka. By not going to Kampala it seems that they prefer to sit on the fence because they don't trust M23 as much as they don't trust the government.

To finish, I will say most of them have a common denominator in the sense that they think they are not accountable to anyone; all they do is trying to score political goals in a selfish fashion with no particular focus on how to address definitely the many problems faced by the POPULATION.

I don't think force will bring any lasting solution to the DRC. Unfortunately, peace and trust should be the starting point.

In any case, it's still early days.

It's just my opinion, those who don't agree can object but I am no longer prepared to engage in demeaning comments.


Unknown said...

I spoke to and they said.... That's how mother of all expert Jason puts it. I dont know if i should continue beliving info obtaned from anonymous sources. Consider Steve Hege (PhD). He says I spoke to FARDC, former RDF officers and congolese civilians and they proved to me that blablala..... They are hiding behind a curtain of Anonymity to feed us advocacy and propaganda materials!

blaise said...

instructive analysis and way out :.

tresor said...

@james, why are so obsesed with the UN report, it's out there and the trueth is out. Apparently Kagame is putting on a brave face but deep inside he knows that if the international community turns against him it will be over for him. I think the government of congo is aware of that hence they are constently emphesising Rwanda's support for the M23. but as far as the talk is concern I don't see any positive outcome of the congolese people. We have a government that has done pretty nothing to improve the lives of the people at the sametime we have a rebel movement which is more than willing to kick the government out but they have their own objectives which has absolutly nothing to do with changing the lives of the congolese people for the best. it seems like the congolese people are caught between a rock and a hard place

blaise said...

Another link analysing the fardc

Anonymous said...

Thanks so much, Blaise! Super helpful. And yeah, Judith's piece was really on target. It dovetailed nicely with Prendergast's piece though, with his, I felt he was trying to push for something that had the gravitas of the Dayton Accords- which ended the Bosnian Civil War. Not sure if international political will has reached those levels with the Congo at this point.

Now, if the M23 continues to use take territory and use mass violence in the same manner as Bosnian Serbs or Syria's regime then, perhaps, the international community might push for something truly big like Dayton.

In terms of the divisions within the M23, the Makenga/Nkunda faction appears to have the upper hand. They also seem to be the most militant which, in this case, means they want more than simply positions in FADRC and generally seek to hold Rwanda at a distance. It will be interesting to see how that plays out because if they begin to feel squeezed- from either the DRC or Rwandan side- history has proven they will dig in further which can only mean more violence. Rwanda appears to be trying to head this off with the promotion of Ngaruye but I doubt it will make much difference. Rwanda has a really bad habit of creating Frankenstein's that, over time, they cannot control.

In terms of the opposition, I'm mostly with Rich here. It is so disappointing to watch them make demands on process which, ofcourse, both highlights and deepens their irrelevancy. How do they expect to provide leadership when they constantly refuse to demonstrate it? As a Congolese friend put it in an email to me the other day "They don't trust the government, they don't trust the international community, they don't trust the M23, and they won't DO anything. And then they wonder why we Congolese end up supporting the lesser of these two evils?".

As ironic as this may sound, this rebellion does provide an opening for the opposition to demonstrate some leadership by virtue of the political vaccuum it has created. I actually believe their is a way to maintain the Congo's territorial integrity and reform its political system via these negotiations. But if the opposition is not willing to buck nationalist sentiment in Congo- an understandable but not particularly forward-thinking one- to butt some heads that eventually leads to peace and righting the ship of Congolese democracy what, ultimately, are they for?


Unknown said...

The DRCgov and all people of good will who reject the human suffering in the Kivus should by now understand that the M23 crowd doesn’t mean negotiations at all. Whatever compromise for durable peace in the Kivus is suicidal to them and the gig plan. Very soon they will find an excuse to storm out of these “negotiations” and carry on with their lovely hobby: violence, rapes, looting and destruction in the Kivus.

They have always called for negotiations, and when negotiations came they now opt for disruptive tactics: from cars breaking down, to vitriols, now they have dodged Monday crucial meeting (

But more importantly, all are eagerly awaiting to hear from the horse mouth, what their DEMANDS are. It can’t be that it is only analysts and bloggers who know what M23 wants, but M23 itself indulges in vagueness and pussyfooting around the issue. Vitriols about JK governance are fine, but too easy. Tell us what your grievances for this senseless violence are and how they should be solved. They can’t hide for ever.

Also, M23 should expect different viewpoint as they have discovered that the opposition they wanted sees through their machinations. The civil society with the Catholic Church (biggest critic of JK) have just denounced these negotiations. As for the diaspora, would they like “les anti-Kanambe combattants”?

Look, these are inveterate war lovers. Time is their biggest enemy. The focus should rather be on the operationalisation of the “regional force”, now with the support of South Africa, Tanzania, Angola and it will be judged Rwanda and Uganda. Look how AlShabaab, who are more dangerous than M23, are dwindling in face of AU forces.


Anonymous said...


The House Committee on Foreign Affairs is having a hearing today, at 3:00pm Eastern Standard Time, on the conflict in the DRC.

The Committee is chaired by Republican Chris Smith of New Jersey, Chairman of the Africa subcommittee of the broader Foreign Affairs Committee.

Smith actually tried, and failed, to head the broader committee- which would have been GREAT for Africanists- but lost out to Ed Royce (another mostly "good" guy on the Congo/Africa) of California largely because Smith isn't a right wing/tea party nutcase and doesn't raise enough $$$ for Republicans. He is one of the few moderate Republicans left in the increasingly Democratic northeast so I'm sure the likelihood of losing this seat in nearly uniformly Democratic Southern New Jersey in the future probably had something to do with it as well.

Testimony will be from Steve Hege (who needs no introduction here), Ambassador Johnnie Carson, and Enough's John's Prendergast.

The live feed can be viewed here:

Rich said...

Rich -

These negotiations will set an interesting precedent where one can be allowed to think all governments in the region may be called to have negotiations with their respective so called "negative forces". In that case one can imagine rwanda sitting at a table with the FDLR (whose number and importance vary according to the mood of the regime in kigali), Uganda with ADF-NALU why not J Kony? I say this because these armed groups were all qualified as negative forces by the same entities.

The other thing is, will the M23 ask for a generalised amnesty for its commanders (Bosco, Makenga, Ngaruye, Kayina)? All indicted as bad guys not only by the DRC gvt but also by the UN and the US as they listed them on their lists of sanctions!

If anything, it may take a miracle (although possible when you bet on the international community's naivety) to make the whole world perform a U turn and cleanse the M23 based on Kampala talks.

More on this is to hear the M23 tell the world that we conducted this war because we want amnesty on HR abuses, we want more grades and great functions within the army, to be allowed to exploit and export resources found in areas under our control, the return of refugees including people whose number and ID are not known, keeping a parallel administration of occupied territories including having an army within the army and not subjected to the law of the land almost equal to having a a state of shared sovereignty between Kinshasa and M23 administration...

The above, are in my opinion some of the true demands of M23 but they are so far hiding behind demands they are far from respecting should there be in charge in Kinshasa or else where.

Can't wait to see these talks start or hear that no "under the table" dealings are to be allowed. We want transparency and accountability for those negotiating the fate of millions of Congolese.


Kongo in NYC said...

A few random thoughts:

-there are other players here besides the DRC, Uganda, Rwanda, and M23 and its various factions. Really looking forward to thoughts/ideas about them and this crisis. (other players = other armed groups, Angola, South Africa, SADC, etc)

-A key problem here appears to be the press-happy nature of both sides. In my opinion, Uganda’s mediators needs to- right now- tell both sides to shut up and stop grandstanding/negotiating in the press. Yes, that means people like us and the Congolese don’t get timely info but, as President Bush said to Obama during the debt ceiling debacle “stop negotiating with yourself and in public”. It would be great to even move the negotiations to some neutral, hard to reach, ground- like Bukuba in Tanzania.

-The Congolese opposition keeps negotiating itself into irrelevancy. They have approximately zero leverage to make demands on this process yet that’s all they offer. Its unreal and just plain sad. I agree with Mel. The opposition needs to show leadership and cease and desist from parroting the “me too” nationalism that is gripping Congolese society and the pages of this blog. Nationalism is great but its also blinding and, as the last century made clear, can encourage fanaticism.

-The ICGLR process is bedeviled by, well, process. Some outside force- be it the UN, AU, whatever- needs to put pressure on Ugandans to get serious. At bare minimum that means a) stop negotiations in the press b) ask both sides to clearly state their positions (ie, the “demands”) c) come to agreement about negotiating over these positions d) set a timetable for negotiations e) negotiate f) clearly lay out how a final agreement is agreed to by both parties (ie, Congo side must have the national legislature pass it, M23 side must get full sign off by its leadership).

-The US and UK, the primary “taxpayers” of all three governments (DRC, Kampala, Kigali) must insist on strict accountability with all of them- and I mean real strict.

-I continue to believe that aid should be directed at developing the capacity of Congolese civil society to govern themselves and, by extension, the technical ability to govern the nation. The international community has clearly grown tired of Kinshasa’s political class- this is plainly obvious (supporting Kigali, cutting IMF lines of credit, removing Congo from AGOA, etc) Well, ok, why not train up Congolese activists in the same manner it funded and trained democracy groups in Tunisia, Egypt, and the various Eastern European republics to create a NEW one?

Kongo in NYC said...

@ Mel

The hearing is on Tuesday- not today.

Unknown said...

@Kongo in NYC

Your thoughts are beyond random, they are thoughtful. You are raising substantive questions and not dishing out propaganda as it has become customary on Congo Siasa. Lately, it has become just the “channeling of M23 (that is Kagame) stuff” on Congo Siasa posts.

First, granted Congolese opposition has been naïve and often ineffectual. But they have achieved what M23 won’t. That is denounce “convincingly to Congolese” JK ineptitudes and importantly “propose alternatives”. Besides JK loss in governorships in Province Orientale and Bas-Congo, today some of the opposition offers have been adopted: chief of all is the CENI reforms and the fact that CENI president should come from civil society. Opposition win!

These talks in Kampala are really a sinecure. Is the mediator Uganda serious? Or is it games as usual? I agree with you that there can’t be talks without an agenda and a timeline. Is M23 ready for that? These so called negotiations should be televised and “open” to all Congolese to judge, especially in the Kivus. We live in the era of youtube and facebook.


From the previous thread, I want to respond to your little theory about secession of the Kivus. You don’t effect secessions at will, from outside just like that! What you waiting for to declare Kivus secession as declared by god Kagame and backers. It aint easy, is it? Economic excuses are just that, economic excuses. There is a lot behind. You don’t rule Kivutians by force (ref to local radicalism and Kivutian polititians’ anti kagame sentiment). What are you gonna do now?

Look, secession is always a bottom up affair. It will never be at all an external enterprise by blogging on Congo Siasa. Whether in South Sudan or Western Sahara(Front Polisario), or even Cazamanse in senegal ,Scotland in UK or Calonia in Spain, it has always been an existential thing of people on the ground. But you guys have imposing it against the will of the people on the ground. Now you are confused!

muanacongo said...

@ blaise and Mel

the ICGLR is like ECOWAS for ouest Africa or Nato for the west.It's under the AU.It reunite all the neighbors of the DRC end of quote

The ICGLR may be one of the sub-regional organisations under the umbrella of the Au, but it not the parent of the force under consideration for deployment.

An Eastbrig operation of the African Standby Force would have been composed of troops from Burundi, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Kenya, Madagascar, Rwanda, Sudan, the Republic of Comoros, Mauritius, the Seychelles, Somalia, Tanzania and Uganda. Eastbrig's headquarters are in Addis, the secretariat (planelm)is in Nairobi. The only Eastbrig Forces currently deployed to peace building operations are from Rwanda, and from Burundi (Kenia’s contribution to the war in Somalia is a special case).

Officially Burundi is also a member of FOMAC, the central African brigade. So are the DRC and Angola, who are also members of the SADCbrig.

SADC forces have once invaded Lesotho, and contributed together with Zambian and Zimbabwean forces (against the will of then South African president Nelson Mandela) in the Congo war before 2003. Their record is soso.

The force that is now under consideration for deployment is the SADC brigade, which means that Rwanda and Burundi cannot have been excluded because they are not part of it. Still, command will be held by a Tanzanian officer, who isn’t part of SADCbrig. Confused?

Tanzania got the job because they are so far the only country that pledged troops, one battalion, for the force. South Africa offered logistical support and transport capacities. Now we wait for the forces pledged rolling in.

To deploy a force from mostly English and Portuguese speaking countries is an interesting decision. After all, the DRC is member of the CEEAC, which has a capable force that is already tested (MICOPAX), and most of them speak French.

So far it was decided, like always behind closed doors, that SADC will send its entire brigade. I wonder whether there will be a multidimensional operation...if so, they won't be able to fight M23, as Kinshasa hopes it will turn out...again, someone else to do the lob of the regular Congolese forces.

No info about the mandate and the rules of engagement of the force exist so far, and they are announced for arrival on 17 December. Watch that date.

The Excellencies and Honourables have made their decision behind closed doors, and now the strategists will have to figure out the rest. The acting SADC president already knew that the "whole operation" will cost 100 million, they have already decided on a budget, and on how long the operation will take...allegedly the DRC has already contributed to the costs, however, the amount has not been published.

If this is an encouragement to other African states to drop money… good luck!

congo man said...

@ all
Don't expect nothing from KAMPALA. this aggression will only be stopped militarily. any negotiations should be about the arest and transfer of BOSCO NTAGANDA, the ICC ,the removal of RWANDA and UGANDAN troops from the DRC ,and the disarmament of all negative forces including the M23 terrorists movementp. I think general OLENGA put it clearly. KAMPALA is just another maneuver by the UGANDA and RWANDAN dictators (MUSEVENI and KAGAME )who are once again trying to exploit JK s weaknesses and the stupidity of the so called opposition.
@ muana Congo
I think those Rwandan officials ,mostly diplomats and bloggers who are presenting themselves as Kongoles in Madrid, Paris or New York are just desperately trying to legitimize what is nothing but a terrorist movement

Anonymous said...

Sorry about that, all. The hearing is indeed tomorrow.

Three other things:

First, mighty Mvemba Dizole will be testifying as well! Yay!

Second, so Hege is listed as the "former" coordinator? The Group of Experts no longer has a mandate so I assume that's accurate but has this been confirmed by the UN yet?

Third, while perusing the site I noticed there is a place where you can become a virtual attendee and submit questions that the committee will "attempt to seek answers to as many questions as possible"!

Here's where you would submit them:

I hope folks take advantage of this!


congo man said...

@ blais
I agree with you. but i think the SADC forces will still need MONUSCO to play a role in areas like transportation and even air support . I Think Luanda's rift with JK is Very big and I don't expect them to be very active this time .even though KABILA shall take the blame for it I also think CONGO hating run deep in the neighborhood but not only in KIGALI and KAMPALA .I think many wants the Giant to stay on the floor. that's why I think SADC with the leadership of less hostile southern friendly Countries like Mozambique ,South AFRICA ...will be very helpful. the Tanzanian troops will have no problems in getting along with some so called freedom fighters do to their common language (Swahili) .but the infiltration and corruption within the FARDC still troubling and is the biggest elephant in the room. this is the biggest advantage for Kagame and his guys.

Unknown said...

SADC capacity to pacify the Eastern DRC is often overstated. This is the same hoax as the “DR Congo is under arms embargo" hence justifying the inability of FARDC to quell dozens of armed groups; the armed groups are in effective control of major parts of the country from Katanga(at the border with Zambia) to Province Orientale ( at the border with South Sudan and Central Africa).
First of all let us agree that only 2 countries in that region are considered to have stronger military with the capacity to operate 1000 of miles away from their respective countries: Angola and South Africa.
For facts, South African National Defense Force –SANDF are already deployed in Eastern DRC (2 battalions or + 1000 men) in and around Goma. Equally 2 battalions of Angolan soldiers, mostly made of tank and artillery regiments, are “unofficially “in DR Congo since 2009. For the last 3 months, the bulk of these Angolans (wearing FARDC Republican guard Uniforms) have directly engaged battles against M23 in North Kivu. They were commanding tanks and artillery regiments.
Other Angolans are working as trainers; they are in charge of training the mechanized divisions and the presidential guard units.
After spending 5 years on ground, South Africans already know the military realities in North Kivu and won’t be willing to engage into counter insurgency operations against M23. It will be costly in all dimensions. (
But there are also realities seem to be overlooked by many here on Congo siasa: said...

@ Gisa

Many Thanks. The info on Angolans in Republican Guards uniform is very interesting. Is there a stressable source for this, especially on numbers?

On the SANDF, well there is a reason why they do not pledge troops for this operation. According to SADC account at certification of the brigade it should be able to muster 6.000, including police component, and civilian component. The Early Response Capacity should not exceed two battalions. Now we are told that SADCbrig will be deployed 4.000 strong.

A EU battle group of two battalions costs about 100 and 120 million Euro in six months when it is not deployed to an operation (however ready to go at any time). Wonder how long the 100 million Dollars budget (77 mio Euro)estimated for the operation in Eastern Congo will last for a whole operational brigade in the field…and who will pay for it.

Peace Support Operations of this scale never end after the foreseen period. Btw, what is the foreseen duration?

Unknown said...

The info about Angolans is from various sources within DRC security services. It is an “unofficial presence"(translate covert operation, based on an agreement between the two concerned governments); you won’t find anything in the public domain. I am sure UN and some western diplomats have the details.
SADC has opted for the activation of their standby brigade. As you said, there are a number of limitations when working under this framework. The constraints you mentioned on SANDF, apply only in case of a standby brigade framework.
But my observations on December 11, 2012 12:49 AM were about a possible unilateral/ multilateral military intervention outside the framework of standby brigades. When Kinshasa first approached those SADC countries, they did not talk about the Standby Brigades; they were/and still are looking for a possible intervention like the one of 1998. And Kinshasa is telling them money is not a problem; the bills are to be paid same as back in 1998 i.e by extracting raw minerals.

blaise said...

Point taken,I oversimplified the ICGLR Neutral Force. After their declaration here
It was reported by new vision that Rwanda and Uganda will be included in the Neutral Force. Apparently,another dynamic emerged

@ Gisa Rebero

I don't think Angola send any troops in DRC. There were rumors that they did specially coming from Bukavu. What happened is that the South African contingent from Goma were evacuating from Bukavu. People started that.
South Africa has a contingent of peacekeepers in the Monusco.
As for Angolan wearing G.R uniforms, I'm skeptical about that. Those are probably the troops trained by Angolan, being side by side with those trained by Belgians and Americans.
Drc still has unpaid bills from the last intervention. Maybe that why they are asking for money up front.Beside,pres Eduardo didn't take it well that he has to share the future exploitation of some lucrative oil rigs with Congo.

Anonymous said...

Here’s the question that I submitted to the Committee for the hearing today.

Thoughts? A friend of mine who is an Enough activist in North Carolina, upon reading this, said that it might be time to simply try to pass a "Comprehensive African Great Lakes Foreign Policy Act" as a means of tying each and every Administration to pursuing a more robust foriegn policy towards the region.

I think we should try something to that effect.


Dear Chairman Smith and Ranking Member Bass:

I would like an answer to the following.

When will the Committee on Foreign Affairs, in exercising its oversight role of the Administration, call in the senior officials at the UN Rep's office, the National Security Council, the Bureau of African Affairs at the State Department, and the Office of the Secretary in the Department of Defense who have policy authority over Africa so as to clearly explain:

a) policy goals towards the DRC as it relates to the issues of making peace with its neighbors, extending its authority over its lawless eastern provinces, developing and respecting its democratic institutions, and abiding by, and adhering to, the rule of law

b) their estimation of the success of these goals at this juncture?

These are among the stated policy positions of the Administration as it relates to the DRC yet, as a tax-paying citizen, I do not feel clear about whether or not it is succeeding or failing on these measures.

I appreciate the Subcommittee on Africa’s efforts of holding hearings with experts to discuss problems and policy options. At some point, however, it is important to hold policy-makers to account for their stated goals as appointed officials of our elected officials.

Melanie Melanax

Anonymous said...

If folks who are watching the US House Committee on Foriegn Affairs hearing on the above links posted by myself and Blaise are wondering what's going, the hearing isn't in session yet- ie, the members of Congress of the Africa subcommittee and their staffs haven't arrived yet.

You can view it here on CSPAN, which is a cable channel that only shows deliberations in the US Congress (House and Senate) and various lectures on issues:


Anonymous said...

My thoughts on the hearing....

- Though I am a VERY partisan Democrat, I'm a very proud of Rep Smith (R) of New Jersey. His line of questioning was sharp and specific. In terms of Ms Bass, a Democrat from California, I'm very disappointed. Its clear to me this is typical partisan bullshit in DC. Democrats, ofcourse, wish to protect and defend this President and go soft on his Administration officials. Republicans, led by Rep Marino and Smith, are going for the juggler as it relates to Rwanda and the Adminstration's role.

- As much as I admire Johhnie Carson's service to this country, and he most certainly has a compelling personal story, the good man has got to go. Just listening to him, the evasions, the lack of real specifics, just all of it makes him appear as a relic of an era that must be dispensed of. When Rep Smith kept trying to get him to answer about the result of Administrations policies he kept answering with policy effort! That's not being accountable!!

- Rep Marino is my new hero. To Ambassador Carson: "How many people have to die before you get serious about this?!". Best. Moment. Ever.

- Mvemba For DRC President!!!! Seriously, Dizolele was on fire today and spoke truth to power. Remember that part about the US "aiding and abetting" for not doing anything? Perfect. And he's take down of the whole Congo is "too big to fail" stupidity was perfect. Rwanda thinks ruling a federal state will be a cake walk? "you must be smoking something!". Loved it. And, like me, he called for an "upgrade to the Obama law"!!

- Overall, I think the idea of using multilateral aid (World Bank, IMF, et all), sanctioning Rwanda leaders, and much more engagement by the US around a political process in the Congo came through loud and clear today.


Rich said...

Mel -

Thanks for this round up of key moments and I agree with you on more than one level. You've summed up very well all there is to be said about the witnesses and committee members I just wanted to add one thing about Amb Carson and Hege.

Amb Carson was a disappointing. Credit to him for namely mentioning rwanda for the first time as the handler of M23 and saying the GoE report was credible. However, he was not very good when it came to answering the question on sanction according to Section 105 of S. 2125--109th Congress: Democratic Republic of the Congo Relief, Security, and Democracy Promotion Act of 2006. (2005).

There he confused the fact that the law is about sanctioning countries involved in destabilizing the DRC and not about good use of aid. Unfortunately he took the opportunity to PR the regime in kigali and hence keeping a blind eye on the bad record the rwandan regime has on human rights both inside and outside the country.

To me, Hege was the man of the night. This guy came across very different from the devil some try to convince us he is. From what I can judge listening to him, he was very detailed and honest to himself. I do agree with the fact that he thinks rwanda may have decided to carry on regardless of sanctions since they think gaining total control of Kivu via proxies or directly will outweigh losing out aid supports from various partners.

I'm not quite sure about Hege's idea of cuddling kagame's dream, by allowing federalism or decentralization to gain peace. If federalism or decentralization there are to be, they must come from Congolese desire and from bottom up and not from the rwandan regime blackmail.

All in all, I think Hege is a very brave man and deserve the respect of all those who want the DRC to pull through asap.

The solution to this problem must be Congolese led but it is difficult to put up a decent fight when you're on the floor with people on top of you preventing you from standing up. One may need just a little reprieve to get the necessary time to stand up and face your aggressor. No matter how long it takes, Congolese will end up by pulling through and help the region to stabilize. I say this because I know the Congolese resilience and LOVE for peace and hospitality.


blaise said...

@Mel and Rich
I agree with both your analysis. Hege come out not as the lunatic he was depicted.He clearly stated why there was this push for federalism although reality on the ground will push for more decentralization first after centuries of central power.
But the guy who really come out strong and pinned down the whole issue was Dizolele. I was impressed by his rendering of the situation. He didn't stop just blamed the others, he specifically stated that sanctioning the rebels wasn't a solution since they can be replaced.The masterminds have to be named and shamed.
Hi conclusion went even farther,he said that the real elephant was really in Kinshasa.The fail leadership of the government is driving those cycles of violence. He just dissected the FARDC and showed that people have no confidence of the army because they acts like predators.
The guy from enough was a deception.His ideas were out of touch.Sounds like he want that "presidential special envoy for the GL" position.
Overall,that was an interesting hearing.I will have hope they will dig more deeply into the shady dealings conducted by some fardc officers and DRC presidency.

Unknown said...

What is it now after the nth Congo hearing? Outrage or shame. Just 2 points:

(1)I respect deeply Amb. Carson, but I am quite perplexed that even he could allude to that nonsense spewed by Kagame handlers : that spending foreign nicely entitles you to criminality and impunity. This is a first in history of the “civilized world” that a criminal slaughters children of his neighbor , but is protected from justice “because his house is beautifully painted”. Not only that, but those who stand for justice and denounce the crime are persecuted instead, like Mr courageous Hege has been fired from the GoE!!!

Ok fine, besides economic sanctions what about travel bans and assets freeze for Kagame and his junta? What about banning any export of Congolese blood coltan and gold from Rwanda (which produces none)?

(2)As things stand, any thing to this nightmare is welcome. The leadership of the USA in solving DRC human tragedy is dearly needed by the millions of vulnerable innocent in the Kivus.
Where is the young Obama who fought against Apartheid and championed the cause of a secure and democratic DR Congo as a senator?

We can all be dogs, so why so big should the anti-Congo diabolical influence of a “female dog” like the abrasive sorcerer Susan Rice, the friend of Kagame and African dictators (ref her eulogy of Zenawi at his huneral). Or the other “female dog”, the ugly witch and backstreet lobbyist aka Jendayi Frazer?

(3)Finally, talking about decentralization or even federalism, why should this be for Rwanda’s sake. This should be as a necessity for better government of the large DRC. Also, what would be the difference between stages/regions in federal countries like USA, Germany or Nigeria? Would the army be different? Just what is the connection, I don’t understand?


Unknown said...

Back to DRC itself, Congolese should not be distracted by the show in Kampala. There is blood, sweat and tears ahead.

(1)Now that his masters Kagame and Museveni have taught him a lesson, JK should get off his nonchalant behind and start “governing” for once if he wants to leave some legacy.

(2)Decentralization should be effected this coming year and more democratization realized (2016 elections). The enemies of Congolese people, M23 and their masters, can’t live in a democratic, open and pluralist society. This should be emphasized in any deal in kampala, if any.

(3)The revelations of treason, infiltration and reason for retreats from Bunagana to Sake, and shown by Gen. Olenga convince me that a winning FARDC is possible in no time. Let’s work on from now uncompromisingly.

(4)Now that even the staunchest critics amongst Congolese (civil society, Catholic church or opposition) have realized the enormity of the danger, time is to internal resistance strategy especially in the Kivus. But not by politicians. I mean a popular resistance spun in time.

muanacongo said...

Words are failing me.

… the anti-Congo diabolical influence of a “female dog” like the abrasive sorcerer…

… the other “female dog”, the ugly witch and backstreet lobbyist…

When you write, is there some foam on your lips?

Anonymous said...

Or steam oozing from your ears?

Calm down, Muana. LOL.

Also, does someone have any idea what the material difference is between decentralization and federalism?

I know Kongo NYC gave a good run down but any other ideas? Or is this really semantics and they basically mean the same things?

From my read of the French version of the 2005 DRC Constitution, "decentralization" is more devolving power and a sharing of taxation and royalities/leases from resource concessions. Whereas, from the context of the States in my own country, each state is a near equal with the Federal government- indeed, their is no federal government- no "United States of America"- without the States. A State government is its own legal entity so, as an example, some Hong Kong pensioner could buy both federal bonds (T-bills) and Texas state bonds.

I don't get the feel from the DRC 2005 Constitution, however, that the Sun City framers meant for provinces to be their own legal entity.

Or did they?

I'm not trying to dive into the minutue here but seeking understanding.

Hege said one thing but implied another in his testimony concerning Rw's intentions: he said "federalism" and a "autonomous state". Well, these are two different things. A federated system in the Congo will NOT lead to autonomy. So, a North Kivu state may have the ability to raise its own taxes, hire its own civil servants like a police force, build its own jails, schools, roads, and whatever but it will NOT have the authority to control borders, customs, and currency- these latter powers being the mark of autonomy and preserve of a central government.

In no federated system (Swiss, Australia, US, Brazil, etc) are those kinds of powers granted to a devolved entity within a larger political entity.

I don't know. I guess, again, I'm confused about these two terms.

But it appears to me that Rwanda, and perhaps disgruntled Congolese in the East who have never liked Kinshasa's rule, seeks something like an actual independent state free of Kinshasa's rule- a la South Sudan- that it could potentially control. If so, that must be resisted at all costs- no matter how poor the FADRC.

A (mostly) independent North and South Kivu province could allow a better administered trading regime for all involved. As an investor in Bas Congo, which is run very well in my opinion, I support giving more power to provinces. In my mind that's simply etching in the law who can tax what (Congolese tax law and collection between the central, provincial, and municipal authorities is a HOT mess) and reforming land tenure/ownership so as to create a real land market and secure tenure.

Anyway, I'm veering here but if folks have an idea about the difference between decentralization and federalism you could offer that would be great.

I mean, is decentralization the process and federalism the product of the process?

I'm not clear.


congo man said...

I am just wondering how much money the COLTAN MAFIA might have donated to the Obama reelection campaign . How can he turn his back on the people of the DRC and let that corrupt lady (Susan Rice ) and her Criminal friends ( PAUL KAGAME and MUSEVENI ) continue on their killing spree ? Why is he silent now ? How many more millions of people does PAUL KAGAME and his M23 terrorists have to massacre before his Washington backers asks him to stop? Why shall American taxpayers continue to support terrorists groupes like the m23 and their leaders PAUL KAGAME wile almost all European nations have cut their aid to this despot and his junta ? Why is SUSAN RICE fighting hard to protect this bloody ruthless dictator (PAUL KAGAME ) and the Criminal Mafia that are wrecking havoc in Eastern Congo ? How does this serve the interest of the UNITED STATES ?

Kongo in NYC said...

@ congoman

The simple answer to your first question is "nothing".

It is a federal crime in the United States for any foreign national, entity, business, or non-profit- or their agents- to contribute money, gifts, or in-kind contributions to a political candidate, party committee, or campaign committee of anyone seeking an elected office at any level of government (local, state, or federal).

Nice try, but while kagame is most certainly cynical he is not stupid.

That said, from the perspective of the Pentagon, a strong Rwanda and Uganda (and now Kenya) serves the US in ensuring the volatile and Al-Queda- friendly Horn is kept at bay. Same for peacekeeping in Darfur.

Given the increasing pressure on Obama to "do something", it will be interesting to see who steps up to assist in the Horn (my bet is Tanzania or Malawi) should potential sanctions on Kigali occur and, in response, they decide to "punish" America by withdrawing their troops from these regions.

Indeed, any effort to sanction high-ranking Rwandans or Ugandans must first figure out who patrols the Horn/Darfur should Kampala and Kigali balk.

And to be clear, assistance in these areas is a matter of US law. All Presidents are bound by it. Obama dies tomorrow? Biden is bound to pursue terrorists in the Horn and police Darfur. Hillary runs in 2016 and wins? Same for her. Jeb Bush wins in 2016? Same for him.

Kongo in NYC said...

@ Mel

I think your on the right path- decentralization as a process, and a reality, that gives provinces in the Congo more power.

Also, not to confuse you more, but there is another option beyond federalism- confederation. There are 4 examples of this system:

- the old and current Swiss confederation
- the Iroquois League in America
- the first US government under the Articles of Confederation (which, ofcourse, failed) and the Confederate States of America that governed the southern states during the US Civil War
- Congo's former colonial master, Belgium.

Generally speaking, these are very weak forms of government but, in two modern examples- Belgium and Switzerland- they seem to be working very well.

In the Swiss case, Swiss "citizens" are first citizens of a "canton", which are for practical purposes sovereign states. The canton are classic states in that they can tax and spend, decide on school policy, have their own court systems, constitutions, etc. Each canton "confederates" with the others to make up the State of Switzerland. The Swiss State takes on its defense (which is nothing since the Swiss are neutral in foriegn affairs), manages the borders, manages the currency, sets foriegn policy, etc.

Would something like this work in the Congo?

Perhaps, but not in the near term. As Blaise suggested in the other thread, we Congolese face a real "capacity" issue- ie, we don't have enough skilled and trained Congolese to administer various state functions. Its akin to our long running industrial problems. A mark of a powerful nation is the ability to design, produce, and shape steel into a variety of products- particular war products like tanks, guns, ships, submarines, etc. Trust me when I say that Rwanda, or any nation, would not dare to cause us trouble if we produced these things in substantive amounts. But, at this moment, we do not have the engineers and technicians to design and maintain such products, nor the managers to plan and execute their production in factories. Will we in the future? Ofcourse. But, not at this moment and that skills gap extends to effectively building and maintaining a state- or several "states".

I am on record for supporting decentralization. But, in my honest opinion, its probably best to do this at the local level first- like building effective municipal administrations- so as to build up a cadre of able administers who can then manage larger units- like a province.

Indeed, I think this is fairly critical for the Congo so as to reform our corrupt political system. Kabila's great failure is that he has been unable- or unwilling-to transform a system that would likely corrupt Gandhi or Mandiba. In order to stay in power, Kabila has to dole out patronage to eastern interests, and katangan interests, etc. And these "interests" are mostly organized through tribal or regional allegiances. But, instead of placating these tribal elites and their patrons, he could broaden his power base by becoming the champion of the small farmer. Imagine what a tax on resource concessions to fund farm loans could do for the peasantry? For the entire economy? For rising up a class of small farmers who could serve as administrators in the territories and effectively check the power of the tribal elites? But, ofcourse, he will not do this because he needs the easy $$ resource taxation and royalties provide to keeping the "loyalty" of these tribal elites.

Kabila is deeply insecure and has no respect for "the people" who are more than happy to return this lack of respect. Sooner or later, some Congolese man or woman will arise who will seek, through democratic means, the respect of the people.

At that point, the scourge of war, illegitimacy, rebellion, and corruption that afflicts our people will come to an end. Once we deal with that, we can get on to creating more effective and devolved governance.

Unknown said...

My observations on Tuesday’s hearing on Congo:
1.It didn’t help the public to have 3 activists with same reading of the crisis;we ended up with a less balanced, less objective, and simplified overview of the crisis. Other US citizen with knowledge of the region(academics, journalists or activists) could have given another version of the story.I suspect HRW lobbies played a role in vetting.
2.The arguments of the activists can be summarized as follow:“We appeal to the US congress to sacrifice Rwanda in order to save Congo".This is unacceptable and shows that the emotional rather than the rational approach prevail in debating the great lakes crisis. Frankly,how many in that panel appeared to have a firm understanding of the African affairs let alone the Great lakes?Rep Marino(the clueless of all)said: "... my daughter and I have the opportunity to visit the continent of Africa... and she said:dad we have to take care of these people we have to help them, and if we do not do it, who is going to…”Really!!!Ironically, Marino’s comments came just after Dizolele’s reference to King Leopold’s civilization mission in “heart of darkness” of Africa.
3.Dizolele focused on security sector reform (SSR). More billions in the SSR will not pacify the east.How much was sunken into reform/rebuild Afghan army? And the result? Will Afghan forces maintain order once the foreigners leave in 2014? History taught us that no Congolese regime survived without the help of foreign military. Corruption is cause for failure of SSR in Afghanistan; now check out the Transparency' CPI 2012 how close Karzai's regime is to Kabila's.
4.Prendergast made a good point when invoking the bottom up approach, touching the root causes at the community level. This is only possible when the old order of "chefferies (local tribal chiefs/kings)" is reinstated and reinforced; together with the catholic church, these tribal leaders will be key in designing the road map toward a model of governance in which the predatory central government and the equally corrupt civil society are less relevant.
5.Prendergast continue to feed his audience about the 70% of world coltan reserve in DRC. This is not correct and I wonder if it is out of ignorance of the truth or it is a deliberate misinformation.
6.Steve Hege was too vague and tried to play the neutral guy all the way to the end. I retained his advocating for federal state(s) in order to guarantee Rwanda's interests in E-DRC. To me it is the strangest position from the "staunch ally" of Congolese people. Maybe he had something else in mind: “exacerbate Congolese hatred of Rwandans who are perceived as having an agenda of chopping off DRC”. If that was the plan, well done Hege. You succeeded.
7.Finally, congo man/muana congo opinions are same as the congolese ever angry man (M. Dizolele). A lot of shared emotions to suggest they are either in contact or actually form one person. Heard words like: "...anybody who entertains that idea (ndlr: dividing Congo) is smoking something...”, “...if anyone think Rwanda can control the Kivu then we haven’t yet seen the half of it..." and “...the Rwandans were kicked out of Kinshasa by civilians in 1998..." finally “…we should resist this idea by all means, anyone who entertain that will have blood on his hands…” Was Dizolele trying to scare someone in the room?
@blaise December 11, 2012 7:34 AM, Angolans are in NK; not rumors nor confusion. Well organized guerrilla movements, with a noble cause, have the reputation of breaking myths and expose “les geants aux pieds d'argile". Before 1996 how many knew FAZ could be defeated?
@Kongo in NYC December 12, 2012 1:03 PM
It is true that Rwanda or Uganda value the friendship of the US; but thinking that the two countries see in the US the savior and protector, you are getting it wrong.
Here is Museveni in Russia:

blaise said...

You raised some interesting points abt the hearing. You just failed to give 2 Dizolele credit for pointing out that despite all he said,the real problem is in Kinshasa.
Another thing I will have to disagree with you is the SSR.
Although we may share some common pts with Afghanistan, the dynamics are different here. Any reform,even partial, of the army will be welcome.But it has to be real reform. Actually the FARDC is a blend of regular troops and a bunch of militias. Until today, a lot of former rebels still retained their post. SSR need 2 be implemented in all transparency in order to succeed.
Abt Angolan. I asked at least 2 ppl in Goma and a 3 in Bukavu where they are alleged to be based. Nobody confirmed that info. Beside, pres Dos Santos wasn't exactly eager to help Jkk.He is not LDK.

Unknown said...

Apologies for any offense. Maybe it was a lapsus linguae. However a cow is a cow even if it were the two big fat ones, S Rice and J Frazer. No wonder Kagame is strangely stubborn as he has the assurances of impunity and no consequence for his crimes and violence in the Kivus. But History is more stubborn. Justice for Congolese people is near.

To rather important issues:
First, I find that general statements and some terms are intended to be a source of confusion and conflict. The devil is always in the detail.
With no training in political sciences or law I stand to be corrected, but I have always understood that the difference between decentralization and federalism lies in the level of distribution of powers (competences) between the central government and regional organs. The question for me is which “powers”? Whatever the answer, I can notice that whether in decentralized (France or South Africa) or federal (USA or Nigeria) countries, the “prime” or major state attributions (army, security, fiscal (tax) policy, external relations, elections…) belong to the central or federal government. The same should happen for a decentralized DRC.

Now, why are Rwandans or int’l Kagame handlers excited about or calling for decentralization or often federalism in DRC? How does it benefit them from the status quo? What would be their interpretation of these terms?

That said, in its present and future negotiations DRCgov should avoid tacit agreements and ambiguous stipulations like those in the so-called March 23 agreement. Is there a secret deal between JK and Kagame? Is the Lemera Agreement between LDK and Kagame real? If yes, what are their contents? Confusion.

@Gisa. Don’t worry my friend. By IP addresses Congo Siasa people can tell where each of our posts come from. My pseudo is muanacongo and not Congoman. LOL.


Zlot said...

@kongo in NYC. To this day, Belgium still has a federal system.

congo man said...

The Coltan Mafia's representative at the UNITED NATIONS(Susan Rice )has finally withdrawn her name from the secretary of States nomination. This is a very good news for the people of the DRC and a big blow to Kagame and the Criminal entreprises whose interests she has been fighting for. She still wants to retain her job at the UN but i hop president OBAMA will found someone better with cleaner hands and diplomatic abilities to better represent the UNITED STATES at the U.N.

Unknown said...

Here is Kagame hallucinating again. He calls on Rwandans and fellow Africans to resist “Western injustices”. Wow!


Now I worried about Kagame’s mental state. Is this man Schizophrenic or just a maniac? If it was not Kagame saying it, many Africans would agree 100% with what he says. But it is just that the reality is quite the opposite. It is Kagame the “protégé” of Western powers. Who gets more of their handouts in the world. Who creates insecurity in the region and hampers African integration and progress. Who commits crimes in Kivus and is shielded from justice by Western powers. That is the man calling for justice in Africa. If insanity could kill!


Anonymous said...

Well, that was an interesting speech from Kabila.

Any ideas what this new initiative to unite the country is going to be? Another Sovereign National Conference or something? Or another Inter Congolese Dialogue? (not sure what are the differences between these two things since both lead to a new "constitution" or political framework). Power sharing with UNDP?

In any event, it looks like Kabila has been taking a hard look at reality and his precarious position.

Uniting the country clearly makes sense so it will be interesting to see what that actually looks like.

On the flip side, ofcourse, he is coopting some of M23's demands. Like Blaise and Rich, I am really worried- for all of Africa- if this continues to be a trend with armed groups. It gives people the excuse to effectively engage in treason if they have a political gripe and that's not precedent that should be set.

@ Muana and Kongo NYC- thanks for the assistance on "decentralization". That was super helpful.


bfhend said...

What do I expect from Kampala? Does anyone actually believe that Yoweri Museveni was going to forgive and forget the humiliation the UDPF experienced at the hands of the RDF in Kisangani?

M7 is reestablishing his role as powerbroker in the Great Lakes region. To wit: he has effectively sidelined Kigali in the negotiations between Kinshasa and the M23. As always, he will position himself as the voice of reason - and the international community will feel a sense of relief. I'm not necessarily taking an advocacy position, but M7 is a nimble pol and a consummate pragmatist, he has given Kagame just enough support that the latter would plunge over the abyss - kinda like Thelma and Louise - Museveni has pressed the accelerator and (with the exception that he jumped out of the car), watched Kagame plunge over the precipice.

Old scores are being settled.


bfhend said...

oops, UPDF. Nevertheless, despite the condition of anarchy in the international system, there is an informal hierarchy...there are norms and accepted rules of behavior. M7 has a pretty good grasp of these, unlike his counterpart in Kigali.


blaise said...

@ Mel
there is a philosophical abyss between what pres Kabila thinks need to be done and what others think is the way to go.
From his speech and the meeting he has with the parliamentary opposition, it appear to ma that pres Kabila is stubbornly convinced that he got the number with him.All he needs it's just more bodies to put in the front.Basically a surge in the Soviet way(WW2)or a la Pyrrhus victory:you lost a lot of men but you win the battle.Therefore, unity for the president it's to rally around him,embrace his ideas without conditions or debates.
Oppositions seems to advocate for a inclusive dialogue in order to restore unity.
I don't see any military victory unless there is a dramatic change of course, a true and honest mobilization of people around genuine patriotic drives.
it's a lil hard 2 learn M7,he is pragmatic as you point out. Pres Kagame is more predictable since he is an ideologue.
For the score settling,I'm not sure.I think the death of MP Meles made M7 realize his own mortality.Since them he seems to try 2 secure his succession.He needs regional support for that. He is trying also to build his legacy:alternative port in kismayo,pineline project.
It's interesting 2 notice that he promoted his bodyguard as brigadier and sent some generals abroad as attaches. Looks like he is securing his entourage.He even buying new jets.Definitively there is a plan in motion for me.

blaise said...

Goma perspective

Kongo in NYC said...

As I’ve mentioned before, I really don’t see how Kabila, or our current political framework, survives whatever comes from this crisis- speech or no speech.

Kabila clearly believes the world will sour enough on Rwanda, or that M7 will butt enough heads so as to keep the money/investment flowing in the region.

@Bruce- Mostly agree with your point but, inspite of it, I still believe our nation is at a precipice that not even M7 can hold back.

@Blaise- Thanks for the Goma link!

Both are highly tenuous propositions and the proof that he knows that is his acceptance of the remarkably flawed (and slightly farcical) ICGLR process.

What leverage does Kabila have at this point?

His people do not trust him, his armed forces are a violent joke, his sugar daddy Gertler is increasingly isolated, and Angola and Zimbabwe- his sugar mommas- aren’t willing to lactate any longer either.

If Kabila considers himself the keeper of, as Antoine Gizenga once put it, the “leftist nationalist” flame begun by Lumumba, then he should get on with this new “initiative” of his that will begin to resolve a political crisis that is of his own making.

Perhaps Kabila will surprise us with calling some kind of National Dialogue/Conference that will finally get to the root of our homeland’s many and varied political problems.

But, even if that happens, I seriously doubt the ruling elite in Kinshasa will fare well in such a

I’m beginning to feel that Kabila should simply turn over North and South Kivu over to the UN/AU (we don’t control it now so why continue to put up with the pretense?)to administer, suspend the Constitution (not too much of a problem given he never abides by it), dissolve the Assembly, call up a Transitional government staffed by his majority, the opposition, armed, and unarmed civil society, give this transitional government perhaps 5 years to do a “do over” Constitution, reform the security and state apparatus, call for another constitutional referendum, then a national and local election, and step aside.

I really hope he sees the light and does this but I’m fairly confident he won’t and, as a result, more of our people will continue to suffer from this criminal and astonishingly incompetent regime.

Kongo in NYC said...

Yikes. Sorry for the jumbled post! Not sure how that happened. :)

Here's how it should look:

As I’ve mentioned before, I really don’t see how Kabila, or our current political framework, survives whatever comes from this crisis- speech or no speech.

Kabila clearly believes the world will sour enough on Rwanda, or that M7 will butt enough heads so as to keep the money/investment flowing in the region.

Both are highly tenuous propositions and the proof that he knows that is his acceptance of the remarkably flawed (and slightly farcical) ICGLR process.

What leverage does Kabila have at this point?

His people do not trust him, his armed forces are a violent joke, his sugar daddy Gertler is increasingly isolated, and Angola and Zimbabwe- his sugar mommas- aren’t willing to lactate any longer either.

If Kabila considers himself the keeper of, as Antoine Gizenga once put it, the “leftist nationalist” flame begun by Lumumba, then he should get on with this new “initiative” of his that will begin to resolve a political crisis that is of his own making.

Perhaps Kabila will surprise us with calling some kind of National Dialogue/Conference that will finally get to the root of our homeland’s many and varied political problems.

But, even if that happens, I seriously doubt the ruling elite in Kinshasa will fare well in such a

I’m beginning to feel that Kabila should simply turn over North and South Kivu over to the UN/AU (we don’t control it now so why continue to put up with the pretense?)to administer, suspend the Constitution (not too much of a problem given he never abides by it), dissolve the Assembly, call up a Transitional government staffed by his majority, the opposition, armed, and unarmed civil society, give this transitional government perhaps 5 years to do a “do over” Constitution, reform the security and state apparatus, call for another constitutional referendum, then a national and local election, and step aside.

I really hope he sees the light and does this but I’m fairly confident he won’t and, as a result, more of our people will continue to suffer from this criminal and astonishingly incompetent regime.

@Bruce- Mostly agree with your point but, inspite of it, I still believe our nation is at a precipice that not even M7 can hold back.

@Blaise- Thanks for the Goma link!


Anonymous said...


More US House congressional hearings on the crisis in the eastern DRC.

This time its the House Committee on Armed Services, chaired by another Californian, Rep Buck McKeon (R-CA). Its a similar format from before- two panels, the first is Administration officials and the second are experts/activists.

Panel 1: Ambassador Carson and Pentagon Assistant Secretary Derek Choillet (met Derek once at a Enough gathering, good guy)

Panel 2: Jendayi Frazer (yuck), Actor and Oscar Winner, Ben Affleck (yay!), and Dr Jay Carafano of the Heritage Foundation (super yuck).

To be clear, this panel and, indeed, the entire Committee skews VERY conservative. Affleck and Carson are the only liberals on this panel.

Thus, its possible neo-con views (ie, break up the Congo, support Rwanda at all costs as a client state of the Imperium) might be expressed rather strongly at this hearing.

I realize there are some Congolese intellectuals who believe Republicans are "better" when it comes to the Congo. Well, I am going to have to respectfully disagree. Conservatives seek the complete and through domination of the military/industrial complex- both here and abroad-and that generally has meant the subjugation of Africans to our Imperial order. Sure, Democrats are often no better but atleast they try to respect the self-determination of peoples.

Anyway, here's the link and if you click on the red, "view live" button you can livestream it.


Also suggest CSAP ( which tends to have better livestream functionality.


Anonymous said...

What can we expect in kampala?

well, does nothing count?

kampala is a whole lot like asking the guy who gave the matches to the arsonist who torched your home to fetch water to douse it out.

Honestly, at this point there are only three things that will save the Congolese at this point.

1. A domestic, patriotic, rebellion that overthrows the regime and fights that other rebellion.

2. Recolonizing- East Timor style- the Congo given its elite has proven that they do not deserve to be treated as sovereigns.

3. Obama, throwing caution to the wind now that he doesn’t have to worry about reelection and thus earning a single white vote, actually decides to put some teeth on his Africa policy vs the nice platitudes and band aids that typify it now and starts with the Congo.

barring these three things and we can continue to buy popcorn to yet another performance of the Greatest Show On Earth- the difference being, ofcourse, that in this passion play, people actually die.

i’m personally pulling for #1 and #3 in that order or, perhaps, #1 which makes #3 more likely. My wife, who is Congolese, prefers #2.


Anonymous said...

Ok, that was perhaps a bit more cynical than it needed to be so let me self-correct and go for some hope.

There is a 4th option. I think.

The fourth option is that Kabila, a genuinely good guy if perhaps a bit more cynical that would be called for at this juncture in Congolese history, finally decides to look deep into his own soul, to his own sense of his legacy and that of his people, and finally decides to trust his people by loosening the grip and rallying them to defeat M23 and, if necessary, Rwanda itself in battlefield.

I have no idea what this would look like but his punchy speech, and this soon-to-be unveiled “initiative” to make peace with the opposition, is a good place to start.

Kabila is not the first man in history to face aggressive foreign adversaries, rebels backed by those adversaries, a divided population, and corrupt, power-hungry officials. And he is also not the first leader in history to have ascended- or sought to maintain- the reigns of power via less than legitimate methods.

In this respect he resembles quite a few leaders in history but one in particular: Gloriana, or Queen Elizabeth I of England.

Elizabeth faced an aggressive and meddling Spain, an expansionist and treacherous France that backed rebellious Scotland to her north, a populace bitterly divided between Protestant and Catholics that threatened England’s very stability, hanger-on’s from daddy’s court that who’s corruption would make any official in Kinshasa blush, and a Vatican that tried- twice- to assassinate her. To top it off, her throne itself was in question given she was the product of an illegitimate affair that ended with her mother being falsely accused for treason and incest-for the pure purposes of allowing her father, Henry VIII, to remarry- which led to her losing her head and her own hard upbringing.

Truly, if folks weren’t trying to fuck Elizabeth for her hand in marriage they were plotting against her- often doing both at the same time.

Oh and I nearly forgot, she was a woman in a VERY man’s world at the time.

But Elizabeth had the foresight of understanding this central truth: if you love and serve the people, they will love and have your back and as a result a leader should fear no one. Thus, she went about healing the religious divide by passing laws protecting both Catholics and Protestants, got rid of dumb and ego-centric advisors who had no faith in England’s potential, reformed the economy and welcomed the middle class into her court to counterbalance traitorous nobles, knocked off her half-sister in Scotland who had plotted against her, and built up England’s naval defenses to such a degree that she handed the Spanish one of the greatest military blows in all history by wiping out its famed Armada. Her greatest feat? Re-opening and patronizing the theatres which both created the fertile ground that gave the world its best dramatist- Shakespeare-and further cemented the bond between herself and her people.

If Kabila wants to go into the twilight a defeated man of a defeated nation he can do so.
But if he wants to reach for glory- for himself and his people- he’s got a few templates to pick

But it all must begin with actually coming to love and respect his people.


Anonymous said...

Interesting, Jose. Kabila as Gloriana? Well, I guess time will tell.

I just wanted to make one correction to your otherwise fine rendering of 17th century English history.

There was nothing “illegitimate” about Henry VIII’s relationship with Anne Boleyn- Elizabeth’s mother. He was, afterall, the sovereign.
What was potentially illegitimate was, as I believe you are trying to suggest here, Elizabeth’s claim to the throne as the progeny of this relationship. English nobles at the time were mostly Catholic. Anne was an admitted, if lax, Protestant. So, too, was Elizabeth. Primarily to secure continued Tudor rule over England, Henry sought a male heir as the highest order of state business. So as to secure this, and his own throne amongst far stronger rival nations (France and Spain mostly), he married the heir to the Europe’s most powerful sovereigns’ at the time, Princess Catherine, daughter of Queen Isabella I of Castille and King Ferdinand II of Aragon.

Catherine was a Catholic and, therefore, acceptable to English nobles both for this reason and as a means to hold the Spanish at bay. Given she was barren, Henry VIII helped touch of years of conflict- conflict Elizabeth had to resolve- by deciding to annul this marriage- which the Pope forbade- and creating a English Church, now the Anglican Church of England. (Episcopal outside of England)

Without going any deeper here, Elizabeth’s illegitimacy was based purely on the fact that she was both a woman and, for Catholic lords throughout Europe at the time, not sufficiently Catholic given both she and her mother refused to submit to the “true faith”- considered heresy at the time.

For the Congolese, Kabila’s supposed illegitimacy stems from a belief that his mother is supposedly a Tutsi and that he’s a tool of the international community. Sure, like rumors against Elizabeth, its pretty crazy but, as with the 17th century English, the Congolese have been traumatized over the years by constant foreign meddling in their affairs and internal discord. So, this sentiment about Kabila is understandable.

Personally, I think Kabila’s inability to have confidence in his people is largely a result of not having confidence in himself. He’s had 10 years to try a more revolutionary approach and, broadly speaking, he’s totally failed.

So, of your options, I think a more realistic one is the one not mentioned: the status quo.


Kongo in NYC said...

Interesting take, Jose. I agree with all the options at the moment and likely believe Mel's "status quo" option seems the most realistic.

In terms of Kabila "pulling an Elizabeth", I seriously doubt this will happen. Elizabeth, from what I know of her, made the choice that Kabila has refused to make- namely, building a power base from the people and NOT the powerful. She did so to secure her authority given all the threats to it externally and internally.

Kabila choose the powerful, not the people, as his base like virtually every other Congolese leader before him- save Lumumba and Kasa Vubu-and our nation is suffering as a result.

I could be wrong in this assessment but after 10 years watching this fool, I doubt that he even spends the time- as Elizabeth and other great leaders do- reading about other leaders who faced the constraints that Kabila faces internally and abroad. Indeed, one reason Shakespeare created the historical plays he did was to encourage Elizabeth and her court to think deeply about their actions and to see England in context of history.

Kabila is not a patron of the arts or ideas- indeed, he jails artists and journalists for engaging in thoughtful examinations of the Congo.

In short, Kabila's greatest fault as a leader has been his unwilligness to confront and reform Congo's corrupt political system. He decided, on his own accord, to benefit from the system instead of changing it. One could argue that this was a logical thing to do given how entrenched our "pigs at the trough" system is and the dangers to him personally- and by extension the stability of the nation- by attempting to reform it.

But if we cannot call on our leaders to be courageous and LEAD what good are they?

bfhend said...

Mel,I had no idea, lol! Yes, I'm also nervous about the "Republicans are better thesis." We Democrats tend to favor American hegemony; our Republican friends tend to favor American imperialism - this is not just a difference in sematics. Bill Clinton summed up along the lines of...we Democrats favor acting multilaterally in terms of global affairs - but we will act unilaterally when we deem it necessary; Republicans tend to prefer to act unilterally whenever possible (in terms of American national security interests), but will form coalitions of the willing when unavoidable.

I don't blame Congolese when they reason that Colin Powell and Condi Rice robustly quashed reckless military adventurism in eastern Congo before it got out of hand on their watch.

By contrast, we Democrats have to address the fact that Paul Kagame can count on luminaries like Bill Clinton and Tony Blair among his most ardent advocates. When Barack Obama inclduded Samantha Powers and Susan Rice in his inner know, it isn't difficult to follow Kagame's temptation to miscalculate.

And make no mistake, I think he has miscalculated...but I could be proven wrong. I remain hopeful that President Obama will forge a solution that addresses the legitimate grievances that many Congolese feel in terms of a weak state structure - without imposing another inequitable "solution" on the Kabila government that seems to favor armed insurrection.


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blaise said...

welcome back. Great parallel abt Liz.
Check out this perspective from those on the ground

Unknown said...

@Bruce and Mel

Those are are interesting considerations you guys have about Republicans vs Democrats dispositions towards DRC tragedy. I am afraid you both have got a point. But to be honest, who cares now? It is about humanity now, its about saving lives now. In Congo we say “Mobali ya Maman nde Papa”. That is “he who weds my mother is my father”. In other words, democrats are in power now. So we can only deal with democrats (the African Obama) to end the tragedy in the Kivus.

Does anyone see just how these Rwandan M23 terrorists get ever confused by the day? They multiply tricks to hamper the so-called Kampala negotiations. Now, they want cease-fire. Wow! That’s what happens when you wage wars at Kagame’s behest for fun as a routine or the way of life.

Congo shall prevail!


bfhend said...

@ muanacongo

I believe we should be moving towards a more rules-based international system; when international relations theorists talk about hegemony, what they mean is leading by example, building consensus, adhering to norms and accepted rules of behavior. Critical theorists tend to think of hegemony in terms of asymmetric distributions of power and structures of oppression - and the need to emancipate oppressed groups (women, minorities etc.).

I believe in the doctrine of R2P responsibility to protect...that it should be an accepted norm. It is a controversial idea because it can clash with the long-accepted institution of national sovereignty. One can imagine that China might have serious reservations about R2P.

Barack Obama is surrounded by people who accept R2P in principle (including Samantha Power and Susan Rice). Right now, R2P is being tested in the DRC - the results indicate that it has not yet achieved the status of an accepted norm.

The Congolese state has the primary responsibility to protect its own citizens, but MONUSCO has been given a mandate to protect Congolese, and the greater international community has a moral obligation to be constructively engaged.

So far the Congolese people have been failed at every level of the international system.


Fowl Ideas said...

We have ours.

They have theirs.

Anonymous said...

@mel- thanks for the correction. i was indeed trying to suggest that Liz I’s legitimacy was in doubt as a result of, well, her very birth. and I agree, to a degree, that part of kabila’s basic problem is lack of confidence in himself. though, i think this stems from the general lack of confidence the congolese have in themselves culture-wide.

@ blaise- good to be back! just figured out how to create a google profile! thanks for the link though i had read it earlier in the week. my wife’s relatives in Kamina (katanga province) send me stuff all the time. love pole. one of their top points is the deep lack of confidence the congolese have in themselves to chart their own destiny. i think this is a BIIIIIGGGGGGGGGG problem and very true. i have longed asked myself why the Congolese don’t openly revolt in every city in the country? even if it means a brutal and harsh death? i know jason/others postulate that one needs a strong, unified, civil society to sustain grassroots revolts. well, that’s interesting but i’m fairly confident the congolese, like all people, know when they are being screwed. yet, the congolese still don’t seek death to free themselves like others in history? why? Pole provides some insight i think.

@ bruce- hmm. i take some issue with your “international system” argument. personally, i don’t see much of a system out there but, instead, just different masks for the same capitalist masquerade ball. that system is decked against ALL the poor and weak and, as such, there is nothing peculiar or specific about Congolese suffering that stems from it. call me a cynic (really, please!) but until the congolese a) start producing goods people need instead of things that come out of the ground b) use that $$$ lube to build a powerful army they will always and consistently be fucked and really shouldn’t be surprised when, proverbially speaking, it happens without a condom.

just my two cents, peeps.


Unknown said...

@ jose

I agree with u here ”start producing goods people need instead of things that come out of the ground… build a powerful army”; as JK and Congolese ultimately acknowledge that only a dissuasive and republican army will ensure Congo’s security.

But it is funny that you say that “the congolese still don’t seek death to free themselves like others in history”. Wow bro, how many more Congolese should die to see how the Congolese have willed for pece , democracy and prosperity?

I put to all that CONGOLESE HAVE BEEN MORE BRAVE THAN ANY OTHER AFRICAN COUNTRY. In the last 50 years rthey have had revolts, revolutions, marches(more than Arab springs),pillages. I mean everything! In the end Congolese have concluded that that only DEMOCRACY, PLURALITY and an OPEN SOCIETY are the only choice left. WE WANT ELECTIONS like ALL CIVILISED PEOPLE in the world including AMERICANS.

I assume that you take Kagame’s Rwanda as a “model”. Well, this is still history in the making; this is a marathon not a spring. Don’t draw any conclusion yet. It is contemporaneous history, it ain’t over YET. Please hold your breath , brave Congolese people are only preparing to fight against the enemy. And the enemy is Kagame and no one else as many would want it to be. Be patient please.

Take care


Unknown said...


Thanks a million. I have been an academic in my other lives. So I always thought when I joined the Congo Siasa forum that one will deal with people like you; astute, academically challenging, conceptually anchored and factually based blokes. But then you have to stand propaganda junkies who believe in home-made anti-Congolese prejudices and conspiracy theories. No problem even then, Congolese street fighters like me will deal with all of them one by one.

Coming to the ( responsibility to protect) R2P theory. My apologies as I am a mathematician/financier/philosophy amateur by training and not a social researcher “stricto senso” as many of you guys are on this forum. Please correct me any time when I veer off; but I have always had a sense that in social sciences, theories are “a priory mechanisms” employed to initiate or justify “actions”(Cold war,Vietnam-Irak wars, MONUSCO…) by politicians. In other words, here a theory has a “justificative” value.

But in my realm, a “theory” has a much weightier meaning. For one it is always an “explicative paradigm” of the natural world (Newton's Laws of Motion, Einstein theory of general relativity, Darwin’s Evolution theory, Heisenberg & Bohr Uncertainty Principle……). In Mathematics theories are often rationally conclusive/transient/provable assertions that underpin empirical industrial applications (too many to mention from Theory of equations, Automata theory to Quantum theory or Ring theory)

In truth, what I mean is that the R2P can not be plausible or even “considerable” if it keeps being disproved on the ground every day. What is the role of countries (DRC) in this theory? Will they be obliterated? Who is to be protected and by whom? I salute Roger Meece but Ban ki Moon is the most useless UN SG in history of UN! Someone prove me wrong please!

Sorry I have been all over the place. But I surely appreciate your reflections.


Unknown said...

Well, I spend a fair bit of time on this blog reading the updates and enjoying the battering volleys of the commentators.
Jose's references to QE1 have prompted me to introduce myself.

I'm a South African playwright/director working on Verdi's opera Macbeth (based on the Shakespeare), which I am setting in a Bisiye Mine-like context in North Kivu, and 'told/performed' by a troupe of refugee performers from that blighted spot. To be staged in Vienna, Paris, London, Rotterdam, Brussels, Hannover etc. in 2014.

I battled for some time in the naive belief that I could tell the story - which story? - of the conflict through the plot of the opera. Eventually I realized this would be like trying to squeeze a thousand feet into the delicate glass slipper of the opera, hence my resolve merely to drop the opera into the slippery, shifting quagmire of the situation, and let it squirm there.

The most ineffable characters for me are those 3 witches who sow the seeds of destruction at the outset, filling the warlord Macbeth's head with dreams and releasing his bayonet-pointed ambitions. These witches: their strategy is to destabilize the region, turn general against king, and brother against brother. They flood the region with arms, money, Chinese imports, drugs. Their ultimate objective: to get all the riches they can out of those mines...

So who are they, these Witches, within the Great Lakes conflict??? Can they be reduced to particular players, or are they seething composite figures, everything from Leopold 2 to Mobutu to M. Kagame to Dan Gertler to JK...?
What do you think?

blaise said...

@ Barbara Bunfight
That will be easier in the context of Rwanda where king macbeth(pres Kagame),killed(virtually,in house arrest) the president and become King.His witches are Clinton,Blair and Museveni.We have general Rwigyema as the dead man and Kayumba as the fugitive general's

If it really has to be Congo, we have a young JKK,just promoted chief of staff, approached by the troika:France,Belgium and USA(witches)with Louis Michel as the spox. He is convinced that he will do a better job than his dad.Got him kill.Assume pres.U got a bunch of runaway general 2 chose from although will be controversial :Bosco,Nkunda,Amisi, that raised armies 2 combat him.
just saying

blaise said...

I think it will be to simplistic to state that Congolese are afraid to die for their belief.I think it's more accurate to say that nobody want to die in vain.There have been revolts in the past.People pay it with their life.Like the author you mentioned said, Congolese lack of grassroots organization is one of the problem.
The mass doesn't revolt without a goal.We don't have unions to rally the troops,we don't have political parties to rally behind a single slogan.Notice how many towns revolted when Goma failed?
Congo is still a vast rural country.Kinshasa alone as 8 millions ppl.After that,Lu'shi as 3 millions,kisangani a little bit less,the rest is 1 millions or less.People are still in the physiological level from Maslow's hierarchy of needs.
For revolt to succeed,there must be a coordination, a mot d'ordre. So far the opposition or civil society used methods that will be compelling in a western democracy but are ineffective in a banana republic.
i got more reads for you regarding the MO of our foes

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Unknown said...


Ayant suscité l’admiration de tous par son expérience et inspirant confiance pour un avenir national meilleur;
ayant jusqu’à présent résisté vaillablement à toutes les manoeuvres de l’ennemi visant son démantèlement ;
fidèle en sa Déclaration de Décembre 2009, ses Status et Manifeste ainsi que tous ces textes;
déterminé à continuer la guerre jusqu’à l’objectif ultime à savoir l’instauration d’un pouvoir garantissant l’Etat de droit et la Souveraineté nationale;
Opposé à toute attitude, action ou discours incendiaire susceptible de briser l’unité nationale;
Engagé à tout dialogue franc, respectueux et responsable visant le retour rapide de la paix dans notre pays ainsi que dans toute la sous- région;
le Front Patriotique pour la Libération du Congo ,FPLC en sigle, rappelle à l’opinion nationale et internationale ce qui suit:

il reste un et indivisible;
il réaffirme son soutien et sa confiance indéfectibles en son Président fondateur et Commandant Suprême de ses armées le Général Gad NGABO;
il promet un sort méritoire à tous les ennemis de la paix, détracteurs et traitres obstinés, aussi longtemps que leurs responsabilités auront été établies .



Fait à Goma, le 07 Février 2013

Le Président du FPLC



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