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

Monday, July 15, 2013

From Mutaho to Kampala––What's next?

For weary observers of the M23-FARDC standoff, the cycle of events is becoming all too predictable. Every week, dozens of rumors are spread via SMS, the web, and word-of-mouth about cross-border infiltrations from Uganda and Rwanda––most of them false, but persistent enough for it appear to be an orchestrated campaign of misinformation. Some MONUSCO officers spend many of their waking hours just hunting down the latest canard, usually to come up with nothing.

Then the fighting: in past weeks, a variety of militia loosely allied to the Congolese government have launched attacks against the M23. Last week, a small bunch of APCLS Mai-Mai somehow made their way to the north of Goma to harass the M23; before that, it was the MPA and FDLR-Soki to the northeast of Rutshuru. And now it is the M23's turn again to strike against the FARDC, attacking Mutaho, a village overlooking Goma from the north.

The backdrop of this fighting is provided by the Kampala talks. Here, too, there are patterns: both parties deploy large delegations to the Ugandan capital, where they spend weeks at a time without meeting each other. The Congolese prevaricate between a refusal to negotiate, an ultimatum for the M23 to sign a proposed deal (several of these have come and gone), and more a more flexible stance.

What is the current status? On Monday, July 8 the Ugandan facilitator put a new deal on the table, following a revised proposal by the Kinshasa delegation. The facilitator's deal would provide for an amnesty for everything but violations of international law, the integration of M23 officers and political cadres, a concrete plan for refugee return, the creation of a National Reconciliation Mechanism, and the declaration of a state of disaster for the East. The follow-up would be largely provided by the ICGLR, but would be integrated into the Framework Agreement, thus allowing UN Special Envoy Mary Robinson and the various oversight mechanisms to weigh in.

This is more than the Congolese wanted––most notably, they didn't want to integrate M23 politicians, and suggested that national reconciliation be spearheaded by the National Oversight Committee for the Framework Agreement (comité de suivi). Moreover, they will probably shirk at declaring the East a disaster area, which would commit them to legal and financial obligations toward provinces in the East (although the government had done this in 2009).

But the deal is a much bitterer pill for the M23 to swallow. It would basically require them to disband their movement, accept the deployment of their officers anywhere in the country, and receive little in return. For some of their leaders, in particular Makenga and Kaina (as well as some of those in Bosco's wing, currently in Rwanda), the sentence "promulgate legislation granting amnesty...taking into account international law," will leave their personal future in suspense.

So will fighting continue? Will the M23 or the FARDC escalate? Anything is possible, but I would imagine the Congolese army would wait for the Intervention Brigade (FIB) to fully deploy, and for the army to carry out its ongoing restructuring before making a move––and that could take at least another month. The M23 would have a greater interest in escalation, perhaps in order to preempt the FIB from deploying or improving the deal on the table. But their problem continues to be a lack of troops. With only 1,500-2,500 troops, they have to protect an area 100km long and some 20-50km wide.

So taking Goma would leave a considerable vacuum along the Rwandan border, and would probably only be possible with backing from the Rwandan army––would this once again be forthcoming?


Unknown said...

"both parties deploy large delegations to the Ugandan capital, where they spend weeks at a time without meeting each other"... any idea what those guys are making in per diems?

Unknown said...

As a nation, however we agree or decide to do it, we have to address and resolve one of the most fundamental questions that has faced us since independence: why have we never had an army capable of neutralising armed rebellions without calling on foreign troops? If Congo (Zaire) had a strong army, perhaps, the turmoil that Kivu has experienced since 1994 would not have happened. Will there be more fighting? I hope not. But, are we willing and able to work towards sustainable and lasting peace in Kivu?

Eole said...

Dear FARDC soldiers,

We have seen footages of you abusing bodies of M23 soldiers. While these people have been the most bloodthirsty criminals, the gruesome we could have imagined, there is no reason for you to treat them like that. For more than 17 years, they have humiliated you and kill you without anyone daring to raise a finger. However, do your best ti behave like humans. Take this opportunity to show that you can treat your foes with dignity, even when they do not deserve it. Think about Mandela and about our ancestors and do not copy what M23, RCD and CNDp have brought to Congo.
I urge you to hear my plea, as someone who has lost a brother, a sister, and two cousins do to these thugs and still miss them.

Unknown said...

Dear Ban Ki Moon

The tragedy in the Kivus will define your “legacy” at the helm of UN. Its quick resolution (end of M23 and change of destructive ways in the region) will restore UN credibility greatly. So beware those “UN officers” in your office who are pursuing goals that may not be yours. These are the same people who deleted the mention of Rwanda from the UN GoE report. Why?

We have all seen that alleged “abuses short footage”. So, however reprehensible the act of “1” or “2” stressed out soldiers at war, is the overreaction by the “UN officers” befitting it? Or, somehow stunned and unsettled by the ongoing determined operation by FARDC, they were fishing for “anything” so to “cut support” to the FARDC?

More importantly, should the punishment for such an infraction by 1/2 soldiers be “individual” or “collective”? If the DRCgov is requested to punish the culprits, why then punish “entire units” of FARDC? Were the Abu Ghraib prison “abusers” punished individually or collectively? Or as in many cases in the last 19 years, when it comes to Congolese people int’l rules and practices change? A permanent “opprobrium” has to be kept on FARDC and Congolese people with the “automatic” ensuing int’l media Congo-bad headlines?

My point is, as His excellency Sec. John Kerry recommends: let’s “DISOLVE” the M23 criminal militia so people can live in peace for ONCE. There will be NO abuses in the Kivus just as there is NOT on 90% of Congo right now!

As for the DRCgov, they now know more than most that we are up against it. As they work for a “law abiding” army, they should prepare for the “worst case scenario”. Envisage a world without “support” and also an “overt attack” by Kagame targeting Goma or Bukavu!

God bless and protect people soldiers: the FARDC!


congo man said...

I agree with both Eole and Muana Congo .yes our troupes needs a to be cautious but how much more restrains have to be put on the FARDC?why this video and why now?where was all this so callee advocates for the last 20 years? Was the U.N looking for another reason to excuse it self from doing its mission?does the UN wants thisM23 terrorists...stopped ?does the UN really wants peace to return to this region? the Congolese people understand that we are on our own .the enemy and their partners will do anything to keep their bloody business going. This is the reason why the FARDC shall just forge ahead and crash those terrorists once and for all.

Krishna Kumar Shrestha said...

Hi friend, I think To make Army better, its senior to political parties existing in the government leader should responsible.

Unknown said...

I appreciate your efforts to bring such a huge list for us. Nice feeling by reading this types of things… | | | | | | | | | |

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