The external forces in the DRC
There are powerful external players who want the instability in the DRC to continue.
With eight million people killed, thousands of women raped, strategic minerals looted, and hundreds of people forced into refugee camps in the last 15 years – as a result of successive wars of invasion sometimes directly launched by Rwanda and Uganda, backed by Britain and America, sometimes by proxy armed groups (including local militia) created by Rwanda and Uganda – the DRC is the greatest tragedy the world has ever known since World War II.
It is generally believed that the new Peace, Security and Co-operation Framework for the DRC and the Great Lakes Region, signed on February 24 in Addis-Ababa under the auspices of the AU and the UN will put an end to the wars.
But those who have “created hotbeds of tension in order to generate chaos and thus justify the balkanisation of the DRC”, as President Joseph Kabila put it, are not ready to disarm.
They are found in the national, regional and international realms.
The Peace and Security Framework especially addressed the external root causes of the tragedy in eastern Congo, namely Rwanda and Uganda, and called on them “not to condone or assist or support any form of armed groups”.
It is worth mentioning that it also called on the DRC government “to continue to implement certain internal reforms, including in the security sector, promote national reconciliation, tolerance and democracy”.
* Intervention brigade
The deal also paved the way for the deployment of an “intervention brigade” approved by member countries of the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGR) and those of SADC.
The 2 500-strong force will be led by SADC but will rely on the UN Stabilisation Mission in the DRC (MONUSCO) for logistics.
Angola, Malawi, Namibia, Tanzania, Zambia, Lesotho, Mauritius, Zimbabwe and South Africa will commit troops to the force, which was initially expected to be 4 000-strong.
The intervention brigade is meant to eliminate all armed groups in the eastern Congo including the Ugandan and Rwandan-created M23 group whose advance and capture of Goma, the provincial capital of Congo's North Kivu Province, in September last year, surprisingly could not be stopped by 17 000 UN peacekeepers already present in the country.
However the UN, Britain, America and Rwanda and Uganda have been trapped.
Unlike previous bilateral agreements signed just between the DRC and Rwanda or the DRC and Uganda respectively, this time it is a multilateral agreement involving the UN and regional organisations, and Rwanda and Uganda have to co-operate; including by handing over criminals such as Nkunda and Mutebusi who committed crimes against humanity and who are enjoying themselves either in Rwanda or in Uganda.
But these forces, which, we in the DRC, call “the international coalition for the distabilisation of Congo”, obviously still have many cards to play.
Various national, regional and international vested interests are already at work to torpedo the peace process, as usual!
This nebula of vested interests – in which you find powerful nations, international figures, multinationals, secret societies and services, NGOs and inter-governmental organisations and the media – is involved in the fight against peace, stability, reconstruction and socio-economic development of the DRC.
* The national front
There is a need to circumvent the actions of Congolese elements in the pay of foreign interests.
M23 contacted leading opposition figures to join them in order to overthrow President Kabila.
In fact, according to Etienne Tshisekedi, Congo's main opposition leader, Joseph Kabila stole his victory following the 2011 presidential election, subsequently even proclaimed himself president of the DRC and is still claiming that “the truth of the polls” must be upheld.
Roger Lumbala, a former rebel leader close to Tshisekedi and an MP, was the first to join the M23 (both South Africa and Angola have arrested groups of Congolese suspected to have links with Lumbala and the M23 group in their territories).
M23 endorsed the claims of the Congolese political opposition on the election.
Who can believe this treachery? The ease with which some Congolese let themselves be used by Rwanda and Uganda is astonishing!
President Kabila has launched a process of “national consultation” to all social and political forces of the country in order to strengthen national unity and cohesion to withstand the Congo balkanisation agenda dear to Rwanda, Uganda and their Anglo-Saxon superpower backers.
Militarily, 89 high-ranking officers recently graduated from the DRC's top Military Academy of Kananga. The Congolese army has reinforced troops in the east and some young Congolese soldiers born in Congo but of Rwandan ancestry still loyal to the government have been transferred to parts of the country other than North Kivu.
* Regional level
In August last year, Angola, a staunch ally of the DRC, is said to have prepared (or even deployed) an elite force to flush out M23 from North Kivu Province, at which point Museveni, then holding the rotating Presidency of the ICGR, rushed to Luanda and convinced Angola’s President Jose Eduardo dos Santos that a forthcoming summit in Kampala would find an amicable solution to the conflict.
Museveni and Kagame were then accused in a UN report of sponsoring M23. President dos Santos sent one of his ministers to represent him at the Kampala Summit.
Museveni was just buying time.
Rwanda and Uganda, which have been the launch-pads of all rebellions which the DRC has been the victim of in the last 15 years, could not accept a rope around their neck.
For them, eastern Congo should remain a soft underbelly, a lawless zone where they continue the plunder of natural resources.
They would never accept a solution that would achieve peace and security in this part of the DRC.
As long as they say “Tutsi are discriminated against in eastern Congo”, everybody chooses to look the other way and not point out the crimes against humanity the Tutsi are committing in eastern Congo.
* African solutions
Another sticking point as to why the deal was off was that the UN Security Council where Rwanda now has a seat, using a top-down approach, had prepared a text without consulting either the DRC or the SADC, confirming that MONUSCO would control and command an international military force, which would come from SADC.
The UN looked down on SADC because it was sure SADC would not be able to raise an estimated US$100 million for the deployment.
However, at the Maputo SADC Summit, the DRC, being the concerned party, advanced US$20m on the spot and SADC countries pledged to raise the rest.
This was when the UN took SADC countries seriously and the Peace and Security Framework was finally signed.
The intervention brigade will be integrated into MONUSCO but it will operate and make decisions independently on the basis of the situation on the ground.
After that, Kampala and Kigali changed their strategy.
The M23 they created split into many factions to make implementation of the peace accord difficult.
On February 28, 2013 Sultani Makenga deposed Jean-Marie Runiga as M23's political co-ordinator and appointed Bertrand Bisimwa in his place.
Makenga accused Runiga not only of allying himself with the Bosco Ntaganda faction, but also of corruption, mismanagement and above all, ethnic hatred. Unbelievable!
M23 took up arms because they reckon “Congolese Tutsi” are “victims of ethnic hatred” in Congo. Now Makenga dismisses Runiga whom he accuses of stirring up “ethnic hatred”!
Dozens of civilians have already been killed in those clashes.
Now it is not clear which faction the Kabila government has to deal with or sign a peace deal being negotiated in Kampala with and “re-integrate” which into the Congolese army.
* The international level
Despite the fact that Museveni and Kagame really deserve an indictment for “mucking up the Congo”, as Tony Blair put in an article he co-authored with American billionaire Howard G Buffett (Foreign Policy, February 21, 2013), the same Tony Blair argued that slashing aid to Rwanda will do more harm than good because this will risk undoing “one of Africa's great success stories”.
After publication of that article, Germany and Britain immediately unfroze budgetary aid to Rwanda they had suspended after the UN report fingering Kigali and Kampala in the DRC wars.
Museveni and Kagame can afford to get away with it because they have friends in high places.
It also appears as if UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is under pressure from the US government over the Congo peace deal.
Having been tough with Rwanda for destabilising the DRC through M23, Ban made a U-turn and toned down his criticism of Kigali.
Ban initially wrote in his report that “the measures taken by some bilateral donors to suspend aid and funding for countries backing armed groups in eastern Congo, the M23 in particular, send a strong message that these practices must stop immediately”.
However, in his final report submitted to the 15-member Security Council, that statement was removed, according to a Reuters report on February 27, 2013.
The big question now is whether or not a rapid deployment of the intervention brigade will take place before Rwanda takes over the Presidency of the Security Council in April 2013.
MONUSCO should be at ease because it maintains good relations with M23, which is sponsored by Rwanda and which is taking the Security Council Presidency.
Rwanda is therefore not expected to turn the guns against the UN forces, is it?
Another factor weighing on the Congo peace deal is US support for balkanisation.
The US has already expressed doubt that the intervention force will not be able to do away with a plethora of armed groups in eastern Congo.
Speaking at Brookings Institution on February 11, the outgoing US Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, Johnnie Carson, said “the treatment to be applied to the resolution of the Congo crisis, must be those already experimented in the former Yugoslavia and the former Sudan”.
As we know, those two countries have finally broken up.
There are active lobbies in favour of continuation of war in order to continue the plunder of mineral resources and to forge balkanisation.
These lobbies have gained weight in the corridors of the Security Council, as the Kinshasa-based daily La République noted in its editorial on March 13, 2013.
The only way forward now is the SADC-generated project which consists of deploying a special force to restore or to impose peace in eastern DRC.
It is quite possible that SADC will take full control and command of its special force, which is to be supported by men from Angola, Malawi, Namibia, Tanzania, Zambia, Lesotho, Mauritius, Zimbabwe and logistics from South Africa.
African solutions to African problems!
* This article has been excerpted from Pambazuka News