Painting by Cheri Samba

Lokuta eyaka na ascenseur, kasi vérité eyei na escalier mpe ekomi. Lies come up in the elevator; the truth takes the stairs but gets here eventually. - Koffi Olomide

Ésthetique eboma vélo. Aesthetics will kill a bicycle. - Felix Wazekwa

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

What's left to save in Kampala?

On Monday, the peace talks in Kampala seemed to (again) be on the verge of success. The M23 and the Congolese government delegations were on their way to State House, and international envoys said both sides had agreed on the eleven articles of the agreement. At the last minute, however, the deal fell apart––over the simple issue of a title.

The Congolese refuse to sign an "agreement" (accord) and merely want to issue a "declaration" to conclude the talks. The M23 and the Ugandan mediation, meanwhile, are pushing for a formal, binding agreement.

The Congolese––who have been blamed by the Ugandan mediation for the failure, and who in their turn blame Museveni––don't see why they should sign a binding agreement with an organization that no longer exists. "No country in history has signed an agreement with a movement that has declared its own dissolution," said the Congolese information minister. The Congolese delegation is under pressure from a Congolese public that never liked the Kampala talks and is all the more opposed now that the M23 has been militarily defeated. Meanwhile, the M23 leadership, who have little to gain personally by signing a deal, as they are unlikely to receive any high-ranking positions, don't want to hand the Congolese a diplomatic victory on top of the military one. 

They seemed to be backed in this position by the Ugandan facilitation, who, after all, has most of their military leaders in custody. The Ugandans immediately blamed the Congolese, saying they had been given a long time to study the agreement and refused even to enter the room with the M23. The Ugandans later made a semi-veiled threat, saying the M23 "can still regroup," something that would only be possible with Ugandan complicity, as the M23 rebels are now largely in the custody of their army. 

Why is a deal still important? For several reasons. First, there could be over 2,500 M23 soldiers still at large––390 have turned themselves over to the Congolese army, around 150 surrendered to the UN mission, over 600 are in Rwanda since Bosco Ntaganda's defection last April, and the Ugandans claim (although it begs credulity) that there are 1,700 on their soil. The peace deal would have given amnesty for crimes of insurrection and could have paved the way for the rank-and-file, at least, to come back home and enter demobilization or army integration. Now they are sitting around, an accident waiting to happen. This was the argument that Martin Kobler, the head of the UN mission, made yesterday.

Secondly, a peace deal would clearly state that there will be no amnesty for war crimes or crimes against humanity, at least theoretically preventing the Congolese from striking any deals with commanders with blood on their hands (although those deals are fairly unlikely now).

Finally, a peace deal would allow for the diplomatic process to continue. It would allow President Museveni's role––as controversial as it was––to be officially recognized, and bring the Kampala talks to a close. It would allow for Rwanda, Congo, and Uganda to put the M23 behind them and move forward on substantive issues of regional integration and dealing with other armed groups, such as the FDLR and ADF-Nalu. And it would marginalize the top M23 leadership, like Sultani Makenga and Innocent Kaina. 

For now, however, a peace deal seems a long way off. The international envoys have left Kampala, a war of blame has started between Kampala and Kinshasa, and only a small skeleton crew remains at the negotiation table. 


Unknown said...

Let is be a declaration,period. A respectable nation does not sign a deal with people accused of rape, looting, killing, enlisting child soldiers and innumerable other flagrant human rights abuses. Let it be a declaration for these futile "Kampala talks" where Museveni clearly supporting the M23 is even hosting them, what else proof do you need of the lack of impartiality from Uganda. These "Kampala Talks" are an exercise in futility and a joke. If an accord has to be signed it should be in a neutral place and should be signed with Congo adn its partners on one side and Museveni and Kagame on the other side. These are the real forces battling each other in the region, the M23 are just puppets used by Rwanda as was RCD and CDNP. Let's get serious, those Kampala talks with the M23 sipping tea in Museveni land have no credibility, one cannot be judge and party at the same time.

congo man said...

@ mulumba
I completely agree with you brother.this joke had to finish. It was very humiliating to see Congolese officials in Kampala negotiating with a defeated terrorist group. Museveni shall just take his 1700 terrorists and integrate them with his UPDF where they came from.
Now MARY ROBISON has to report to her bosses (Bill Clinton and Tony Blair) and tell them that her evil mission has failed. Enough is enough. It's time for Congolese leaders to start acting like man . This kampala joke should have been rejected by Our government from day one.
I couldn't believe it when everyone started to talk about integration. Like if the FARDC was some kind of a big garbage beam where everyone in the region is welcome to dump his trash. This was very insulting to the Congolese people and to those young man and woman who have put their lives in line fighting those terrorists. I have never seen any country being treated like that after a military victory. Our niceety/stupidity has to end . enough is enough.

Anand said...

@mulumba and @congoman I completely understand your frustration. Every analyst I asked in the last few weeks has said reintegration would not happen. But apparently it may. And how can the backers of a proxy army be at the head of the bargaining table? How can anyone possibly expect satisfactory results? I think two failures are occurring here. 1. There is an assumption that the same stakeholders will do the right thing, or even the thing that western donors want to see. What evidence is there for this? 2. There is a sort of subconscious attitude from the western perspective to accept less for the Congolese than we would for ourselves. This failing plagues DRC prescriptions and "solutions." On the Congolese side of the equation, we see the same stakeholders and problematic groups as well (Kinshasa, FARDC, etc). The solutions ultimately rest with the Congolese people, the one group that is not legitimately represented at all. Empowering the Congolese citizenry should be the focus.

This write up offers another perspective on peace talks.

Unknown said...

Here is from the horse’s mouth (DRCgov) a detailed relation of what really happened at Kampala gimmick. It reads like a thriller. How the “facilitator” turned protagonist . How clearly Congo reiterated their consistent and sensible stance: NO amnesty for M23 criminal leadership, NO collective or individual reintegration, NO “accord” but “declaration never to rebel again” with defeated M23 terrorists (

Well done DRCgov as for once all Congolese, majority and opposition, unanimously agree with you. Tenez bon!

I just wish DRCgov should add: NO MORE Congo as dumping site of unwanted Kagame’s “surplus”. From now on, any returnee shall be SCREENED, non-Congolese shall be expatriated without delay as do pragmatic TZ or pragmatic Kenya with trouble-makers Somali refugees.

Glad that finally civil society and MPs like JC Mvuemba are now calling on DRCgov to be PRAGMATIC and erect that “fence” along DRC-Rwanda border. A LAW is needed to force DRCgov to so.


congo man said...

Thanks for that link. I agree. The DRC needs to divert it's connection to East Africa and Asia(Indian Ocean) away from Rwanda. We need to seal all crossing points to Rwanda until the bloody regime of Paul Kagame is removed from power. Burundi and TANZANIA ( The port of DAR ES ALAM )shall be our main link to the Indian Ocean from now on. only small marchants shall be allowed to use the Rwanda-Congo crossing points.we need to impose severe sanctions on the Rwandan JUNTA. anyways ,with no more Coltan, Gold , Tin ore ...comming in From the KIVUs that bloody regime is in serious trouble. We will see how long they're going to survive with the handouts from their fwe remaining supporters. With no more loot coming in from the DRC, the only thing that will keep Bill Clinton coming to Kigali town is his Rwandese LEWINSKY. But it won't take long before he dumps her and walk away. I don't care about that Fat ugly BUFFET looser because i know that very soon his Fat ass is going to ssuffer a massive heart attack or stroke. To you BIL GATE and all the other bloody techies.we will forgive you if you oppen an XBOX assembly plant in Goma ...and give some employment to all those undred of thousands of young man and woman made orfans by your bloody suppliers of blood Coltan...
To my Rwandese friends. wake up brothers and sisters .like Egyptians and tunisians your spring is long overdue. How long more are you going to take this tyranny?

Virunga Mountains said...

What is left in Kampla is an echo of hallucination by Congolese enemies-they're still trying to make themselves look relevant.While another section has gone in deep moaning and being reassured by their angles of doom that" by taking out M23 Congo problems are far from over and soon a new group will replace M23 to demand the same"
However, their crystal ball is not showing any idiot willing to carry out Kagames's banditry as no Kihutu"Kinyarwanda" speaker is willing to die a slow death. Let them go and find out why Sultani Makenga is dying from polonium-210 poisoning!

@Congo Man,
We should set up Open source hubs(Linux) using Ubuntu and also encourage our communities to join the Bitcoin revolution.

Unknown said...


You are so right. Here is the time for those who claim to CARE about people in the Kivus or Africa in general to stand up and be counted. Let’s contain evil with good. Let’s combat a driver of chaos there: poverty and unemployment. Let respectable “Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation” come and build a high tech hub in Goma-city, how about invest in tourism in Kivus and Virunga park? After seeing drama on TV, let people all over the world come and visit “de visu” what gorgeous Kiwanja, Rumangabo, Bunagana, Chanzu … look like! We don’t need those patronising outfits of “Clinton Global Initiative” or “Howard Buffet Foundation” at all. Enemies of Africa!!!

It is pathetic how the same “talking heads” or Congo-pundits who NEVER give Congolese a chance. The same who said M23 was an impregnable fortress (or “foudre de guerre ” as we say in Congo), are now talking about “invincible” FDLR or some 20 other militias. They will be confounded as usual. Truth is FDLR doesn’t exit, with M23 it is a twin-creation by Kagame junta to keep a chaos in the Kivus. As for Congolese militias, these are opportunistic fellows but “our people”, we will talk to them and they will listen as they do in Katanga, Equateur, Bas-Congo and so on.

@Virunga Mountains

Absolutely. Bitcoin is indeed such a revolution. It is changing the way we think about and use money. Central bankers and those who “control” money are having sleepless nights!

Also your point about open-source platforms like “Ubuntu”, linux… is very pertinent. Science and Technologies have just become so free and accessible for all. With Congolese diversity and entrepreneurial nature, even the sky is not the limit!

DRCgov should play an important role in that.

As Lumumba said: CONGO's FUTURE IS BRIGHT!


dimandja said...

It seems the rotting remnants of M23 are at odds and are splitting into two separate groups because they disagree on whether or not to sign whatever DR Congo is asking them to sign.

The political wing (read Congolese) want to sign, but the military wing (Rwandans and Ugandans) are refusing to sign without guarantees they will be set free to infiltrate Congo's military one more time.

Unknown said...

I guess you are the only Kagame's lieutenant left here. How dare you hide behind the Congolese, a group that you DO NOT belong to!! "vas te faire foutre", as they say in Congo.

Anand said...

@Muswahilli BK - Perhaps you have misread what I posted. I am saying that a peace process that entrenches leadership in Kigali and Kampla and is influenced by lackluster goals from western donors, will NOT, in the end, be a sincere and productive process. There is a failing in thought to assume that negotiations will be sincere when the same regional political players are involved from Kigali and Kampala who are backing armed groups like M23. Basically, the instigators of war can't chair the peace process, and their negative aims towards Congo shouldn't be underestimated. I see no reason to assume their motivations have changed. The Congolese people are caught between western powers, Kigali, and Kampla, et al. I do also think that the leadership deficit in Kinshasa is a huge problem too, and FARDC is far from "fixed" just because of this recent victory. The Congolese people need to be in control of their own destiny, but right now the government is illegitimate. I see all players trying to fix the situation, but the citizenry lacks its bargaining power. Always decisions have been made for the Congolese from Leopold, to Belgium, to Mobutu, to the current national and regional lackluster leadership. This has to change. I want to see an empowered Congolese citizenry that is in charge of its own country. This has yet to happen consistently because it is hard to organize when you are forcibly repressed by external and internal powers. I hope that clarifies my point. I'll greet your parting comment by wishing you peace.

Rich said...

Though it is important to admit that M7 has been instrumental in breaking M23 momentum after the fall of Goma, it is equally relevant to point to the fact that Kampala talks have been a tactical move probably initiated by Kampala & Kigali in a long game plan. From what has happened recently it seems that this tactical move by has backfired by benefiting Kinshasa more than Kampala/Kigali or indeed M23. This is because; the lull in fighting and M23 pulling out of Goma has allowed the following:

Prompting an in-fight within M23 since its members would not agree on what stance to take Re: Kampala talks

Allowing FARDC to review their approach to fighting M23 et al by learning from past mistakes to better reorganise and recondition troops, boosting their moral etc.

Prompting UNSC to bring in Res 2098 with a more robust mandate

Allowing needed time for more pressure on Kigali & Kampala Re: support to M23 to start hurting

This list is non-exhaustive …

In respect to refusing to sign an “agreement” I am of the opinion that once again Kinshasa may have a point here. This is not only based on the fact that by refusing to sign Kinshasa reflects Congolese public opinion but if this decision continues to hold it will end up frustrating Kampala/Kigali more than Kinshasa. One of the reasons is that at least Kinshasa will be at peace with public opinion back home and Kampala will have the burden to find a solution to the self-declared 1,700 M23 fighters including individuals accused of serious human right violation and falling under the UN sanctions regime. As many of us can recall the Addis Ababa Peace Security and Cooperation Framework for the DRC & the region commits signatories including Kampala to quote, “neither harbour nor provide protection of any kind to persons accused of war crimes, crimes against humanity, acts of genocide or crimes of aggression, or persons falling under the United Nations sanctions regime…”

To sum up, I would say it is still too early to have a clearer idea how the M23 demise will unfold and how the various stakeholders and handlers of crises in EDRC will readapt to this new military reality. However, in the last 12 months or so, there seems to be a robust trend showing both Kigali and Kampala being on the back foot and more reactive than proactive Re: issues in EDRC in particular and even the Great Lakes region in general. I may be wrong but I feel this trend will continue for the coming years since the credibility of both M7 & PK have been seriously dented with events surrounding M23 and the destabilisation of EDRC. They (M7 & PK) will need a miracle to reverse the course or get their greedy hands completely off EDRC.


Unknown said...

rich you couldn't say any better in another words M7 killed M23 with his crap of ICGLR peace accord .SADC in the name of RDC government played them like fouls and they won . runiga and ntaganda knew it better than they god fathers by insisting not to pull out of goma but nop they were obstacle to peace and now look everything just went titanic ffs they say that united we rise divided we fall divisions don't win you ntn now back to square one

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Unknown said...

What is left in Kampla is an echo of hallucination by Congolese enemies-they're still trying to make themselves look relevant gambar payudara.While another section has gone in deep moaning and being reassured by their angles of doom that" by taking out M23 Congo problems are far from over and soon a new group will replace M23 to demand the same"
However, their crystal ball is not showing any idiot willing to carry out Kagames's banditry as no Kihutu"Kinyarwanda" speaker is willing to die a slow death. Let them go and find out why Sultani Makenga is dying from polonium-210 poisoning!

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