Saturday, July 14, 2012

Destablizing Activities In DRC By Burundi & Uganda?

On friday in the article 'The U.S. Ally That Brings Violence to the Congo and Gets Away With It' Armin Rosen tables once again the question nobody seems to find a completely satisfactory answer to:
'Why would elements in the Rwandan government choose this particular moment to spur conflict in eastern Congo?'
A question often repeated in different discussions and contexts. For example Veronica Varekova argues:
'Instability in Eastern Congo is a worry for Rwanda too. This is why all the accusations make no sense.'
Kris Berwouts speculates on a split between older, U.S.-trained Rwandan military officials and a younger, more nationalistic wing of the Rwandan officer corps.

Is Rwanda playing it's own risky game, as argued yesterday by Laura Seay in a blogpost, or is Kigali closely coordinating it's foreign policy in the DRC with Kampala & Bujumbura?

Coverage of recently released UN expert report zoomed in on Rwanda's role in supporting insurgencies in eastern Congo, eclipsing the possible role of two other neighbours Uganda and Burundi. Is their role consistently underestimated, overlooked and misunderstood?
This week Ugandan MP Geoffrey Ekanya called on President Museveni to 'come clean on the role Uganda is playing in Congo'.  Activist @chrisrumu from Burundi thinks M23 has links to Burundi as well:
yeap... not sure that the guy who is managing this (M23 website/facebook) is based in North Kivu... and Yes, has connection here!
 The Obama sponsored 2006 'Congo act' of december 15th 2006 focuses in it's findings (101) not just on Rwanda, but also on Burundi and Uganda:
'Despite the conclusion of a peace agreement and subsequent withdrawal of foreign forces in 2003, both the real and perceived presence of armed groups hostile to the Governments of Uganda, Rwanda, and Burundi continue to serve as a major source of regional instability and an apparent pretext for continued interference in the Democratic Republic of the Congo by its neighbors.'
The Democratic Republic of the Congo Relief, Security, and Democracy Promotion Act of 2006, required a report not later than one year after the date of the enactment to be submitted to Congress on the progress made toward accomplishing the policy objectives described in section 102. Section 106 specifies that the required content of this report should include:
'A description of any major impediments that prevent the accomplishment of the policy objectives described in section 102, including any destabilizing activities undertaken in the Democratic Republic of Congo by governments of neighboring countries (see also section 102 (14) )'
December 2007 David Gootnick, Director International Affairs and Trade at the Government Accountability Office (GAO), submitted this required report to Congress based on an audit which was performed between may 2007 and december 2007.

The 'real or perceived presence of groups hostile to the governments of Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi' is not mentioned as potential major source of regional instability in this 2007 GAO report. Destablizing activities undertaken in the DRC by governments of neighbouring countries are not mentioned as major impediments to prevent the accomplishment of the policy objectives described in section 102 of the DRC Relief, Security, and Democracy Promotion Act. The report sums up it's findings in the introduction:
  • Allthough US agencies have not acted on the Act's objective of bilaterally urging nations contributing peacekeeping troops to prosecute abusive peacekeepers, Us mutilateral actions address this issue.
  • DRC's unstable security situation, weak governance, mismanagement of its vast natural resources, and lack of infrastructure are major interrelated challenges that impede efforts to achieve the Act's policy objectives.
  •  The U.S. government has not established a process for systematically assessing its progress toward achieving the Act's policy objectives.
Allthough the report was submitted to Congress in december 2007, it fails to mention the official divorce between Kinshasa and Nkunda that occured in August 2007 when ex-CNDP troops ambushed troops loyal to Kinshasa in Rubare. The GAO report quotes however a report by ICG, ‘Internanational Crisis Group, Congo: Consolidating the Peace, Africa Report 128 (Kinshasa and Brussels, July 5 2007)’, that states:
  • militias control large portions of the eastern regions of the DRC. DRC's security forces are poorly disciplined, ill equipped, and the worst abusers of human rights in the DRC.'
In other words 'the door is open, here are the keys'. Rwanda, Uganda and Burundi probably read the report that way. The war in Kivu in 2008 and 2009 illustrates this. We got the march 23 2009 treaty that led to joint operations against the FDLR. In april 2010 Paul Kagame outlined his foreign policy in a speech in West Point where he equated the FDLR and it's supporters with Osama bin Laden's Al Qaeda. It was the forebode of a string of succesfull and failed assassinations at home in Rwanda and abroad in the UK, South Africa and Uganda. Rene C. Mugenzi was warned of an imminent threat on his life by MI5 in the UK.

In that context we  should read Rene C Mugenzi proposal to pressure the Rwandan regime to end political repression and install political freedom which in turn would undoubtedly bring sustainable peace and would cost much less than the cost of current UN peacekeeping mission in Congo.

Events in october 2011 point to a coordinated effort by Rwanda's RPF to align the foreign policy objectives stated in Kagame's West Point speech with Burundi and Uganda.  Someone called Alex (Not Alex Ntung according to Richard Wilson) claimed genocide was occuring in eastern Congo and that the world 'had to do something'. A week later just before Carson arrived in Kigali, Paul Kagame claimed:
"Also posing a threat to regional security are the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), the Lord Resistance Army (LRA) and the Front Nationale Pour la Liberation (FNL) in Burundi."
Enough reason to reread the UN expert report focusing on the Burundi and Ugandan angles.
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