Tag Archives: DR Congo

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.

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In dealing with Africa, lies, dishonesty and arrogance are official policy

16 Oct

 

Presumed guilt by the international community for its failure to prevent the genocide in Rwanda in 1994 has often been cited as the reason for pussy-footing over alleged abuses by the Government of Rwanda. According to this view, President Paul Kagame has been given so much slack and got away with the most horrendous crimes because the international community has been immobilised by guilt.

This is utter nonsense. It is actually a cover for lies, dishonesty and arrogance when dealing with Africa – an attitude that has not changed for several centuries.

There has never been any remorse from the international community – and you cannot feel guilty if you are not remorseful. In fact, the evidence shows that nothing has changed. The international community still does things the same way as they have always done, including the same mistakes they made in Rwanda in 1994.

Massacres are still committed across Africa and the only response is long debates and occasional hand-wringing.

Entire populations are threatened with extermination and the world turns a blind eye (as happened in Rwanda).

Appeals are made to end the atrocities, and the evidence on the ground is compelling, but it is like talking to the deaf (as happened here before).

When regional initiatives are made to end conflict (as is happening in DRC), they are undermined. Non-governmental agents of some countries and their media megaphones fill the airwaves and newspapers with reports of how impossible a regionally-brokered solution is a non-starter and thereby put doubts in the minds of the public. This is what the politicians want.

Are these the actions and intentions of people feeling guilty and remorseful?

Perhaps the only sense of guilt is the feeling that countries like Rwanda have come this far when they should not – because they did so without the permission of the powerful countries.

There is also arrogance in this. How can tiny Rwanda have the cheek to stand up to the big bullies? Why can’t Rwandans behave like the rest who put their tails between their legs and run when confronted with a similar problem?

And now a new pattern of misdeeds by the international community, invariably against Africa, has emerged – systematic leaks of United Nations Reports to various media outlets before their official release. It has happened to Rwanda many times before in reference to the Democratic Republic of Congo. Now it is happening to Ghana in relation to events in the Ivory Coast.. This is an underhand method of swaying public opinion against African countries and leaders in the absence of factual evidence.

What is worse, these reports are leaked before the countries concerned have had the chance to see, let alone respond to them. This from the teachers of human rights and justice!

It is no coincidence that in the case of Rwanda, the excuse of guilt always comes up when the country is in a strong political and economic position. The country’s progress does not fit outsiders’ view of Africa and cannot be accepted. Peddling guilt becomes a convenient pretext to deny that Rwanda can move forward and earn respect on its own merit. Bur because the evidence that Rwanda is moving ahead on its own steam is too strong to simply wish away, some other explanation must be found.

There must be some external reason for this. Or something is not quite right internally. The progress must be at the expense of other important things, such as the right of a few individuals to hurt the rights of the majority.

And so, convenient labels will be found to tag guilt on the innocent so that they can be condemned without the feeling of guilt.

For instance, African leaders are labelled dictators for no other reason than that they are popular in their countries. How can they win elections with such huge numbers when in the West they win with a minority? How can you have nearly the whole population turn up at elections when in advanced countries only about a third of the citizens bother to vote?

Here is the dishonesty, coupled with arrogance: Western apathy and indifference become the benchmark for democratic excellence and enthusiasm and full participation is undemocratic.

If that tag won’t stick, there is always another one. Call them sponsors of foreign wars to plunder the wealth of other countries because their own are poor. Politicians and their non-governmental agents originate this view. The media publicise it. The unsuspecting public believe it. And the African leaders are damned. It does not matter whether logic flies in the face of such an argument, as in Rwanda’s case in relation to eastern D R Congo.

Rwanda’s interests, they are told, are best protected by enhanced stability in the region precisely because of the reasons given for alleged intervention in other countries’ affairs – tiny size, little or no natural resources, landlocked, and so on.

But, of course, no one believes Rwandans because they are obviously too stupid to have such a strategic thinking.

Clearly there is a lot of lying, arrogance and dishonesty in the international community. And this is a dangerous mix.