Tag Archives: France

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.


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.