Tuesday, July 12, 2011

South Sudan Sets Secession Precedent For Congo?

The secession of South Sudan has sparked a wave of secession speculation and secession dreams around the world.  And obviously we also witness the resurfacing of the "Kivu secession" lobby with the usual "Congo is a failed state" argument and predictably Rwanda backers opportunistically jumping on board.

 Laura Collinson, a Canadian working with the Government of Rwanda through the International Growth Centre eagerly retweeted the article by  G. Pascal Zachary "After South Sudan: The case to keep dividing Africa":

"@lcollinson After South Sudan: The case to keep dividing Africa - Eastern Congo next, to benefit from trade with Rwanda? "

Pascal Zachary suggests, referring to a paper by Pierre Englebert, in that article, just like  pro-Kagame propagandist Andrew Mwenda on twitter, that secession might solve the Kivu problem. Pascal Zachary does add that there is no evidence suggesting a majority of Kivutiens would want a secession.

 It's outsiders that have promoted the case for secession of Kivu. Apart from several policy experts abroad dreaming of turning Congo from a failed to a succes state, we should not forget the Ugandan and Rwandan journalists aiming to give legitimacy to the RPF backed rebelgroup CNDP of Laurent Nkunda in eastern Congo.

Would secession of Kivu solve Congo's problems, as suggested? Would the FDLR problem suddenly disappear? Would it adress the grievances of both Rwandans and Congolese? Offering secession as solution to the political problems in the region is like throwing oil on the fire. It ignores the political opposition in both Rwanda and Congo .

It would off course be great if the east african community could play a role in pacifying the region, but not by promoting secession. That would be a big mistake similar to the mistake the EU made when it let Greek Cyprus enter the EU without solving it's problems with Turkish Cyprus first.

Rwanda and Burundi could play an enormously important role in the great lakes region if they turned their efforts towards becoming a bridge between English and French speaking Africa. Striving for sustainable peace in Congo should be paramount. Instead of secession of Kivu, the East African Community should be more ambitious and strive for a sustainable peacefull solution for the whole region. A stable and peacefull Congo would be beneficial both economically and culturally to the whole region.

Instead we read Rwanda is seeking support from the East Africa Community partner states to crush a new rebel group based in the DR Congo.

In July last year, the DRC Ambassador to Tanzania, Mr Juma-Alfani Mpango applied for observer status in EAC, a step that a country requesting to join EAC has to attain before becoming a full member.
It seems that the East African Community is not eager to extend a warm welcome to the DRC. This stands in stark contrast to the warm words by Kagame and Kibaki for South Sudan in february 2010:

"Nairobi. Kenya and Rwanda have invited the independent South Sudan to join the East African community."

Reiterated last week by Mary Baine, Rwanda's State Minister of Foreign affairs:

"So, if southern Sudan wants to join the EAC and if you look at its proximity to the EAC it would only make economic and political sense"

Apparently South Sudan is very optimistic about joining the EAC. It seems as if South Sudan's membership is allready a done deal.

Congo represents a huge opportunity for the EAC as Noelle Terpend explains in a recent study:

" it cannot be ignored because of it's huge opportunities in all fields including agriculture"
The presidents of Rwanda, Burundi  should demonstrate leadership by taking bold steps towards Congolese EAC membership.

If you are looking for a job as evaluation Specialist and want to lead a final evaluation of MSI’s community stabilization project in Goma in Eastern DRC, take a good look at this job offer.


Alex Engwete said...

It seems that these guys will never give up. The Kivutians don't show and have never shown any centrifugal tendency... Any attempt at implementing this crazy idea will be met with fierce resistance in the Kivus. Thanks for the info and analysis.

Vincent Harris said...

Thanks you!

Tony Moturi (@motushi) from Kenya made me aware of Libya's Muammar Gaddafi remarks in march 2010 that Nigeria should be divided into several states along ethnic lines http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/8593355.stm