Tag Archives: Conflict

Peace in DRC distant

6 Aug

Is the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) anywhere near achieving peace? Hardly, even with the massive deployment of troops, huge expenditure and frantic diplomatic efforts. And this is why.

Firstly, there is growing evidence that the various organs of the United Nations are pulling in different directions in the search for an end to the conflict in DRC.

On the one hand, Secretary General Ban Ki-moon appears to favour a peaceful solution to the conflict. He put a lot of effort in formulating the Framework Agreement for peace in the DRC and having it signed by the heads of state of the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region. He also seems to support regional initiatives. The appointment of Ms Mary Robinson as his special envoy to the Great Lakes Region would also indicate his intentions for a peaceful resolution to the conflict.

On the other hand, the UN peace-keeping department under Frenchman Herve Ladsous seems to pull in another direction. It supports military action and ignores, even undermines regional efforts to end the conflict. For instance MONUSCO issued an ultimatum to all armed rebels to disarm just an ICGLR Summit was meeting in Nairobi, Kenya to seek a more workable solution within the Framework Agreement.

MONUSCO was set up precisely to disarm armed rebels in DRC, but there is very little to show in this regard. Instead, it has partnered with some of them.

MONUSCO’s partisanship and the ultimatum it issued a few weeks ago are eerily reminiscent of what happened in Rwanda between 1990 and 1994. The French supported a regime that was clearly planning and later committed genocide. When the regime was facing certain defeat, its leaders, armed forces and armed militia were shepherded to safety in DRC (then Zaire) by the French who continued to arm them.

Apparently Ladsous’s MONUSCO wants to shepherd them back into Rwanda – arms, genocide ideology and all.

Pulling in different directions at the UN obviously complicates matters and leads to the question. Who actually runs the United Nations? It seems the Secretary General does not. A cartel of powerful nations and interests does.

Ban Ki-moon will trot to the different trouble spots across the globe and try to persuade groups facing off against each to come to the negotiating table and talk peace. He will smile to emphasise his peaceful intentions. Occasionally he will threaten and frown to signal the gravity of his mission. But that’s about all he can do because most of the time he will be ignored.

Ladsous will sit in New York and bully his way to achieve what his masters want.

All the powerful nations and groupings such as the United States and the European Union also have special envoys in the DRC to further their own interests which more often than not do not correspond to those of the UN.

Not surprisingly, President Uhuru Kenyatta was prompted to point out at the ICGLR Summit in Nairobi on July 31st that the UN in eastern DRC should “strengthen rather than complicate and overlap” peace efforts already initiated in that country.

Secondly, the money and effort are spent on finding the wrong answer to the problem in the Congo. The military solution that is now the preferred option in dealing with an essentially political and governance issue will not work. Insecurity in the east of the DRC and other parts of that huge, wealthy but ill-governed country is a consequence of bad governance, not inherent criminality. The proliferation of armed groups (as we have argued many times before) is a result of the absence of an effective state in the area.

No amount of money, no number of troops however well-supplied with sophisticated weapons, including drones, will fix the security and political problems in DRC.  The United Nations Mission in Congo (MONUC) set up in 1999 and its successor, the UN Stabilisation Mission in Congo (MONUSCO) and now the Intervention Brigade only add to the insecurity; they don’t end it.

Until all the money and effort are put to the right cause –  to strengthen the state and address the denationalisation of some Congolese, which is the root cause of the conflict, all attempts at pacifying eastern DRC will remain futile.

Thirdly, the deep involvement of the United Nations is itself a problem. I do not know of any troubled place where the United Nations has actually brought peace. On the contrary, wherever the UN has been involved, it has only succeeded in exacerbating the existing situation, often making a temporary territorial split permanent or helping fragment a country.

Examples abound. Two years ago NATO, with UN backing, attacked Libya to remove Colonel Muammar Gadaffi. The country has since been fragmented.

Congo itself is a classic example of UN failure from the 1960s to the present.

The lowest point of the UN getting it wrong was in Rwanda and the Balkans. In the former, genocide was committed while its peacekeeping force, weakened by the very organisation that had set it up, looked on. The genocide only ended when the Rwandese Patriotic Army resumed its offensive and drove the genocidal regime out of the country. In the latter, ethnic cleansing on a massive scale was systematically carried out as the UN watched. It took action by the United States and NATO to put an end to it.

Today, ethnic cleansing is happening in the DRC as the UN again watches, and if not checked it will turn into genocide. Kinyarwanda-speaking Congolese and even Rwanda nationals doing legitimate business in the DRC have recently been arrested, taken to unknown places and tortured. The UN, whose mission is to protect civilians, has said or done nothing about it.

This time it even gets worse because the UN is complicit in the crime. Through MONUSCO, it has knowingly or through inexcusable negligence allowed the genocidal Front for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) to fight in the Congolese army’s ranks which it backs or as part of its own Intervention Brigade. This is bound to destabilise not only DRC but the whole region, and for this reason, peace remains distant.

is UN in Congo beyond redemption?

23 Jul

Just over a year ago, I wrote an article suggesting that DR Congo was the unlikely source of redemption for the United Nations whose reputation has suffered greatly in that country (see The New Times 12/5/2013).

I posed the question whether the world body could redeem itself, at least in this region. The answer was yes – provided it was prepared to admit that it had done mistakes in the past and was now ready to correct them.

As you may recall, this was the beginning of the M23 rebellion in DR Congo.  The UN, because of its heavy presence on the ground, was bound to get involved.  And because of its historical blunders in the country, this was an opportunity to put things right.

Getting involved it did – by putting out dubious reports that placed blame in the wrong place and glossed over the real problems, doing nothing as atrocities were committed against civilians, or shielding the authors of such evil.

This was not the expected level and type of involvement.

The opportunity for redemption also presented itself. The UN could become the neutral arbiter, and with the amount of force and money at its disposal, force the DRC government and rebels to end hostilities.

Better still, the UN could use its organisational and financial clout to help the Congolese government reform and rebuild its institutions and extend control over the whole country.

The United Nations failed to seize the opportunity to redeem itself. It seems the organisation has not learnt any lessons from its earlier involvement in the Congo.

Today, the UN is again mired in the DR Congo, propping up an inefficient and incompetent government, standing by as untold horrors are committed against civilians they are supposed to protect and as has been reported recently, facilitating the cooperation of some of those rebel groups with the government army to commit more atrocities. Its reputation is again in tatters.

In almost every instance where the UN’s reputation has suffered, the reason has invariably been because it has gone against its core mandate and instead did the bidding of some of its more powerful members.

Successive UN Secretaries General since Dag Hammarskjold have learnt and perfected the art of self-preservation. The tenets of this art are very simple.

If you want to keep your job and life, don’t stick out your neck. Better still, be the willing errand boy (there is no girl yet) of the big boys. Inaction seems to be the unspoken rule within UN circles in DRC. It is not surprising that chances for salvation come and go and are not taken up.

But this region is generous and offers endless opportunities for redemption. The latest was the February 2013 Peace, Security and Cooperation Framework for DRC brokered by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and signed by the eleven countries that make up International Conference for the Great Lakes Region.

Among other things, the Framework for peace and security recognised that the “recent crisis has created a window of opportunity to address the root causes of conflict and put an end to recurring cycles of violence”. It also recognised that “the current path is untenable”.

The Framework for peace urged the DRC government to make necessary reforms, extend its authority to all regions and to embark on reconciliation and democratisation and exercise tolerance.

Countries in the region were urged to not interfere in Congo’s problems, respect the territorial integrity of neighbours and their legitimate concerns of interest.

The international community was supposed to facilitate the realisation of these goals.

Everyone thought the framework for peace was the right way to go. Ban and his special envoy to the region, Mary Robinson, former president of the Republic of Ireland, were very enthusiastic about it. Finally here was an opportunity for redemption not to miss – for the DRC, the UN and the many meddlers from outside the region.

But that, too, has been spurned. The agreement was signed and shelved and business went on as usual.

The “untenable path” of war has been resumed. Indeed sabre-rattling has reached a new high with talk of the arrival and deployment of the UN Intervention Brigade. Peace talks have, for all practical purposes, collapsed.

MONUSCO seems to have finally abandoned any pretence to neutrality or playing the role of honest broker. It is in cahoots with various rebel groups, including the genocidal Democratic Front for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR).

Last week Rwanda complained about shelling of its territory from areas in DRC under MONUSCO and Congolese army control.

Rwanda has also reported to the UN Security Council that commanders of the much-touted Intervention Brigade that is under MONUSCO Command have met and planned military strategy against M23 rebels with commanders of the FDLR. The force has actually gone ahead to deploy its troops with FDLR fighters as the capture of a Tanzanian soldier belonging to the brigade demonstrates.

It looks like the UN in DRC is not penitent enough to earn salvation. Still, one hopes it can yet be saved – it is not beyond redemption. But for that to happen, it has to change its ways.

Lull before the storm in DRC?

22 Apr

It has been unusually quiet in Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) of late. Is this a sign that things are getting better there? Don’t fool yourself. They haven’t for the last fifty years and won’t now unless several things happen.

First, the Congolese government must take responsibility for what has gone wrong in the region and correct it. It cannot continue blaming outsiders for its own failures. In the same way, it cannot rely on outsiders for solutions to its own weaknesses.

Second, the United Nations and others in the international community should stop treating Congo like a country more sinned against than sinning. They must show it its sins and pressure it to put its house in order. In any case they share the blame for the mess in Congo and have an obligation to put the situation right. That requires that they own up and see the situation as it actually is, not what they would like it to be. It requires respecting the lives of millions of Congolese and not putting narrow and selfish economic and political interests above them.

The silence is not about improvement in the Congolese situation. It is perhaps because the international media and their rights kin, those creatures who seem to enjoy beating war drums and then gleefully cheer as people tear each other apart and then pretend to be horrified,  have their attention turned to other areas that feed their lust for violence. Or it may be the proverbial lull before the storm. It is probably both.

While there hasn’t been much fighting on the ground lately, there is still an atmosphere of belligerence. There has been a great deal of sabre-rattling from all sides involved in the conflict in eastern DRC apparently caused by the imminent arrival of a military intervention force in the region.

The Congolese government has high hopes in the force and has felt so emboldened as to order the M23 rebels to disarm and disband. They give the impression that the intervention brigade has come to help the government fight M23.

Notice they do not mention other rebel groups like the FDLR. Is it because it has ceased to exist or is no longer a threat to its citizens and neighbouring countries? More likely, it is because the Congolese government and FDLR are now allies and the latter’s fighters have agreed to fight alongside  the government troops.

As usual in Congo, the government and the international community are living under self-delusion. Even if the M23 were the major problem and even if they were to disappear, it is doubtful that peace would return to eastern DRC. M23 is not the cause of the conflict. it is merely a response to an existing situation.

In their excitement about the intervention brigade, the government in Kinshasa has ignored the peace talks with M23 in Kampala, which shows they were never committed to them in the first place.

On its part, the M23 has been warning both the government and the countries that will contribute to the force against attacking its positions and has promised them a bloody nose if they do. They have reminded them that they have a cause to fight and even die for while the intervention brigade does not.

The M23 rebels insist that there are ongoing peace talks in Kampala which should be given a chance. They have therefore put the UN on the spot for its apparent preference for a military solution to eastern Congo’s problems, when its mandate should be working towards a political resolution of the conflict.

Countries contributing troops to the intervention brigade have also been flexing their muscle. For instance South Africa has said it is not afraid of a fight with the rebels. They obviously want to prove a point – that they are a capable force despite suffering heavy casualties inflicted by the Seleka rebels in the Central African Republic. There are, of course, other reasons for South Africa’s involvement, among them, protecting South African individual and corporate business interests in DRC.

Tanzania has been spoiling for a fight for different reasons.

Ever since Mrs Joyce Banda became president, Malawi has been cosying up to the west, and contributing troops is part of the effort to ingratiate itself to them. Besides, Malawi has a large Rwandan refugee population that includes Interahamwe, and it would not be beyond them to want to use the opportunity to infiltrate into Congo and join their FDLR confreres.

These are all the ingredients of a major conflict in Eastern DRC if good sense does not prevail and restraint exercised.

Amidst all this, the UN and the international community are making the same mistakes they made in Rwanda in 1994.

In Rwanda, they withdrew UN peacekeeping troops and looked on as the genocide was committed.

In DRC they are reinforcing an already huge force with a brigade that has been given a shoot to kill mandate. However, its role is not to protect vulnerable civilians, but to prop up an inefficient government and protect business interests of outsiders. It has nothing to do with getting rid of armed groups in, or return peace to, the region.

Congo government is its own enemy

20 Nov

 

Last week fighting broke out again in eastern DR Congo and all indications are that the government army (FARDC) has got a real bloody nose. As has now become customary, the FARDC has fled in some disarray. All the talk we have been hearing from Mr Julien Paluku, Governor of North Kivu Province and Mr Lambert Mende, minister of information in the Kinshasa government, about crushing the M23 rebels has evaporated.

It is not the first time such talk has been heard. Saddam Hussein threatened the mother of all battles when President George Bush Senior attacked Iraq. He was beaten back to the gates of Baghdad. The younger George Bush eventually finished him off. The mother of all battles gained popular currency, but that was all.

Only two years ago, Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi threatened to crush the rats of Benghazi when that city rose up against his four-decade rule. His ignominious ending was as bad as he had vowed against his own people.

Then there was Saddam Hussein’s colourful, clownish minister of information giving out all those stories about giving the invaders a lesson they would not forget even as they were metres away.

Some things never change, and some people never learn.

Predictably, Rwanda has been dragged into the recent fighting in the DR Congo, even when it has been shown it has no hand in it. And in an attempt to create a link between the two, there have been curious coincidences that are not accidental, but point to a pattern, nay, a plot against Rwanda.

Let us illustrate with a few of these contrived coincidences that continue to appear even when they become obvious to most keen observers that they are just that.

The latest fighting in eastern D R Congo broke out just when the United Nations Security Council was discussing the report of the so-called Group of Experts alleging Rwanda’s support for M23. Indeed it was reported that the “experts” were pushing for UN sanctions against some senior Rwandan officials. If their recommendations had been adopted, that would have paved the way for sanctions against Rwanda.

The outbreak of the current fighting was therefore probably meant to influence the decisions of the Security Council.

Predictable, too, have been the actions of some of the permanent members of the Security Council. France was quick to call for a meeting of the council apparently to authorise MONUSCO to get more directly involved in the fighting on the government side. The diplomatic cover for taking sides in the fighting is the much-abused protection of civilians. Note: the meeting was not called to find ways to end the fighting, but actually to escalate it.

This also has happened before in this region. Some members of the Security Council blocked the UN force in Rwanda in 1994 getting the capacity it needed to prevent the Genocide. France actually went ahead to press for an exclusively French force that not only abetted the genocide, but also shepherded the genocidaires into D R Congo (then Zaire) where they were able to regroup and rearm.

Part of what is happening in DRC originates from those actions.

The other arranged coincidence was the leaking of the Group of Experts report to the media at the time Rwanda was in the running for election to the Security Council. The intention was clear – to influence the vote against Rwanda. In the event, accusations in the report had little impact. Rwanda won the vote handsomely.

In 2010 another UN Report, the so-called Mapping Report on DRC in which Rwanda was painted as the very devil, was released to coincide with the presidential election. Again, the intention was unmistakable – discredit President Paul Kagame and the Rwandese Patriotic Front (RPF), influence the result of the election and erode Rwanda’s international standing.

What is not a coincidence is the similarity of the reports and other accusations against Rwanda. They use the same methodology and have similar flaws. – not surprising since they are done by the same people and based on information from the same sources.

It is obvious, however, that it is not the government of the DRC alone doing all this. They are so inept they cannot even tell a simple lie. So who is doing it?

There is a convergence of interests here. The D R Congo government wants to divert attention from its inability to establish effective authority over its territory and denial of its citizens’ rights.

 A small, former colonial power which built itself on the plunder of  Congo’s wealth, but whose fortunes have been steadily declining and now risks becoming completely irrelevant, sees in the crisis an opportunity to resurrect them and make it a significant global player again. 

Then there is the evil alliance between NGOs still smarting from their inability to establish a presence and relevance in Rwanda, a media that feeds off tales of destruction and contempt for truth where Africa is concerned, and a motley collection of genocide apologists and remnants of an imperialist-bashing ideology of yore. Imagine a combination of Lambert Mende, Steve Hege, Jason Stearns and some editors at international news agencies and media. They will cook up something utterly unpalatable.  That is what they have succeeded in doing in D R Congo.

 

Congo could benefit from Rwanda’s agaciro

2 Oct

In the past ten years, certain words have gained currency among Rwandans. It’s not that they are new or rare. They are actually in common use. But they have gained more significance because they now define who Rwandans are, their attitudes and collective outlook.

The words are ownership (kugira ibintu ibyawe) and dignity (agaciro). The two have become synonymous with the search for practical solutions to challenges and a source of national pride.

Now, Rwandans have always owned everything. They own the whole world because as they say Rwanda is the world and the world is Rwanda. This is not a question of physical ownership. It is more the expression of a concept of a world view where Rwandanness is not defined by physical boundaries but by their citizenship of the world.

This view must have been behind the attitude of those of us who lived in other countries as refugees when we took over ownership of the places where we lived – at least conceptually. Rwandans referred to the nationals of those countries as foreigners (abanyamahanga). They were not being arrogant or ungrateful. It is simply the way they saw the world.

This view of the universe from a Rwanda-centric viewpoint extends to religious matters as well. Rwandans even own God. To my knowledge, they are one of only two people who have appropriated God as their own. He is even domiciled in Rwanda.

I don’t intend to wade into Rwandan metaphysics or theology. I only want to relate how the idea of ownership lies behind Rwanda’s current state of development.

In today’s sense, ownership means taking possession of one’s circumstances wherever one is and turning them to advantage. It means taking responsibility for oneself and doing everything to make them work best for you. Ownership means that you alone are responsible for yourself and what you become. You don’t owe it to anyone else. Nor can you expect anyone to pick up that responsibility for you.

In simple terms, ownership of anything is at the root of a “fix it” mentality.

That’s why Rwandans even own their problems and challenges. It is the beginning of solving them.

The other word is agaciro. It draws wild cheers when it is uttered. The word has become the answer and explanation to practically everything Rwandans face. If a Rwandan does something extra-ordinary, it is because of agaciro. If anything is done to demean Rwandans, you are warned not to play with their agaciro. Rwanda’s economic growth is both cause and effect of agaciro, as well as its expression. The frequency with which agaciro is used, even in conversation in English; I would not be surprised if it becomes part of English vocabulary before long.

Like the concept of ownership, the idea of agaciro is part of how Rwandans define themselves.. It is part of their world view. Because they own the universe, they also feel responsible for its well-being, and can only ensure that if they are dignified – wherever in the world they may be.

More significantly, the word is at the centre of what they want to become, how they want to get there and the means of surmounting challenges.

Rwandans know they could not have fixed their political problems – from liberation to ending the genocide and dealing with its aftermath – if they did not own them or felt that their dignity was sufficiently affronted to warrant action.

Looking at ongoing problems in our region, one wishes other people shared Rwandans’ worldview, especially the determination to solve them. Rwanda’s Congolese neighbours particularly need to make ownership part of their everyday vocabulary, and more importantly, part of a problem-solving kit. That way they would not have to run around the world pleading for help to put their own house in order. They would not put their faith in the hands of foreigners with questionable interests. They would not surrender responsibility over their country, and worse, their sovereignty as they have now done.

That they have done all this betrays a lack of agaciro. Yet they only have to look across the border to see the impact of that short word.  They can even borrow it and it will be given to them gratis. I am sure there is a high price for the foreign support they are so eager to get.

Unfortunately, these particular neighbours of Rwanda do not seem to have a world view in which they have an active part to play. And what’s worse, they won’t permit some among their own people with a “fix it” mentality to help. And that’s a pity.

Rwandan opposition in treasonable acts

21 Aug

It is an indisputable fact that Africa remains the most backward continent. This situation is largely our fault. Africa has the world’s largest deposits of natural resources, most of which are absolutely essential for the comforts of modern life. But those countries that have them in plenty give them away for next to nothing. As a result their people live in untold poverty in some indefinable age – certainly not modern. In a country not far from here, where reportedly precious minerals can be picked from every village path and cranny in the ground, citizens still hunt birds, monkeys, other hairy crawling insects and slithering reptiles for sustenance.

The continent is divided along multiple small, inconsequential things. We are also largely to blame for this. We get divided over such stupid things as which European languages we use or preference for tomato ketchup or mayonnaise. Sometimes these silly things determine how serious matters concerning our continent are determined.

Not surprisingly, Africa is weak as individual countries and collectively. We do not have a single voice and our disparate voices are so discordant they do not command attention, or so frail they can’t be heard.

One needs only to look at what happened in Libya and Ivory Coast last year to appreciate this point. The African Union was essentially absent in Libya, and when it woke up to the reality in country, it was ignored like it did not exist. NATO went on to bomb Libya and drive Gaddafi into a drainage pipe where he was eventually ferreted out and killed in the gruesome manner not even he deserved.

In Ivory Coast, as the AU talked and dithered, French troops walked into President Laurent Gbagbo’s bedroom and marched him out in the most undignified fashion. Most people can remember the pathetic bewildered look on Gbagbo’s face as he was led out of his bedroom.

Today, in the conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo the loudest noises are being made by foreigners – the media, UN, NGOs and foreign governments. The voice of the Congolese, particularly that of those directly affected by the conflict have been drowned by external noise. The rest of the Congolese, including the government and the military, are actually happy to surrender responsibility for their nation’s wellbeing to strangers.

That’s how pathetic things can be – when nationals gleefully participate in the emasculation of their countries. It is actually criminal.

It is not in the DRC that this is happening. Even here in Rwanda there are people willing to subject their country to shame and pain.

In the past several weeks different groups of Rwandans have been jumping for joy because donors have cut aid to Rwanda.  They have been celebrating the supposed difficulty their country is bound to face.

Now, it is only traitors or the insane who wish pestilence visited on their country or revel in the destruction of their home. But the so-called opposition political groups are doing just that. In the process, they have shown themselves to have no programme except greed and a readiness to surrender the right to decide the national interest to foreigners.

Yet in the countries where they live and from where they commit such treason, sometimes with the active backing of elements from those countries, such things never happen. Whenever the countries are attacked or threatened, all differences are set aside; they close ranks and defend the common interest.

Our neighbours in DRC are also happy that Rwanda is getting the stick, especially from the UN and some Western countries. They can’t stop applauding the countries that have supposedly cut aid to Rwanda. Yet an economically strong Rwanda is in the best interests of Congo – except, of course, if they are driven by spite and want to drag everyone to their level of incompetence and dysfunction.

Congolese experts in sounding the alarm (that seems their only expertise) have convinced SADC to join the bandwagon of those brandishing the stick against Rwanda.

Even some African academics and scholars and all manner of activists have taken up bashing of African countries supposedly in the name of higher ideals in a vain attempt to gain acceptability in the West. In effect what they achieve is support to burn their own house.

It does not require super intelligence to notice that such attitudes cannot serve Congo’s or Africa’s interests. Instead they play into the hands of foreigners who have a different agenda.

Of course, such divisions and lack of common purpose are not new in African history. The continent was colonised because of that. African response to colonialism was divided between resisters who sought to defend their independence and national interests, collaborators driven by greed and guarantees of personal positions, and those who had no clue about what to do.

This is happening again. We have people prepared to collaborate with forces bent on arresting our progress. That should not be allowed to happen.

Who gains from the conflict in DRC?

12 Jun

As so often happens with events in the DRC, fact and fiction fuse into a sticky mess that has come to define the history of that country.  And there seems to be a preference for fiction over fact.

This is the case now with regard to the fighting in Eastern DRC in which Rwanda has been implicated. A web of lies – not particularly clever – has been woven around the fighting in the area. Incredibly, these third rate lies, unverified claims and clearly fabricated tales have been picked up and spread by media organisations hitherto thought to be beyond reproach in their reporting. Because of this the lies have been passed off as truth..

As I said in this column last week, the DRC has the history of being the graveyard of many reputations. And once reputations have died and been buried in the Congo, any attempts at revival and redemption end up having them buried deeper. If you doubt this ask the United Nations.

Media organisations are no exception to being strangled in the DRC. This will be the inevitable consequence for disseminating lies as people begin to reassess their credibility. The reputation for impartiality, objectivity and thoroughness associated with some of them will disappear, or if not, will be severely damaged.

Naturally in an atmosphere of lies, truth is nearly always completely smothered. Again this is the case in the DRC. The same media organisations that jump at the latest made-up allegations suddenly become silent when confronted with facts contradicting the lies.

For instance, MONUSCO’s rather belated denial that it ever produced a report naming Rwanda as supporting the M23 rebels has received scant coverage. So have the consistent denials by the Government of Rwanda about its alleged backing of the rebels. Perhaps more telling is the total disregard for the findings of a Joint Verification Team made up of Rwandan and DRC officials.

Clearly, there is something sinister here. And who stands to gain from it all? Apparently there are many.

One of the oldest tricks in the book to divert attention from oneself is to direct blame at other people. Equally, one of the most effective ways to get anyone to do what you want is to get them when they are at their weakest and therefore most vulnerable.

It is common knowledge that the government of the DRC has been under sustained pressure since the last presidential and general elections in that country. Both were reported to have been massively flawed.

But why a country with an incredible abundance of natural wealth should in the first place hold out its hands to donors beats all logic. Why it should cower before them is utterly incomprehensible. If I were the DRC government I would make them sing and dance and stand on their heads before they can lay their hands on my precious wealth.

Again, despite its enormous wealth and huge foreign support and the goodwill of neighbours like Rwanda, the government has failed to establish effective control over its entire territory. And no satisfactory explanation can be advanced for this dismal failure.

The lazy way out of multiple failures is to look for a convenient fall guy, and for a variety of reasons, Rwanda is the most convenient.

There are other elements interested in muddying the waters of the Congo so as to hide their responsibility for the mess in the wider Great Lakes Region. The current violence in Eastern DRC can be traced to the coming into the area of armed ex-FAR and Interahamwe. These forces were shepherded there and continued to be armed by some in the international community. That support for their genocidal protégés has not stopped.

A key player in the Congo has been a coalition of NGOs, mostly in the human rights movement, led by Human Rights Watch. Ironically their existence depends on the continuation of conflict. And to carry on their work, they need funds, and to get them, must justify their existence – which is the continued presence of violence. So we come full circle.

In addition, the NGO movement harbours a grudge against Rwanda for refusing them the opportunity to set up as alternatives to the state and thereby keeping the country in perpetual dependence to hand-outs.

They behave like a jilted partner in a love relationship gone sour – never giving up hope of reconciliation, but also doing everything possible to wreck the life of the other partner.

And let’s face it. The Cold War may have ended, but not so the rivalry between East and West. We see it everywhere in the world where there is conflict these days. It is present where there is competition for resources, and the Congo is a classic case.

In the Nineteenth Century control of the two Congos by Europeans triggered the Berlin Conference that partitioned Africa among them. Today’s continued rivalry over Africa’s resources will ensure that the continent remains partitioned and impoverished and therefore easy to exploit. What easier way to do this than keep us in perpetual conflict – and especially keep down those attempting to raise their heads.