Friday, May 24, 2013

Can Congo's Army Learn From Rwanda?

Chief director for Southern Africa at the international relations and cooperation department Edward Xolisa Makaya's astonishing statement claiming reintegration would address issues behind war in Kivu:
"Months would go by without soldiers getting their salaries. That is a source of concern; it's one of the reasons the M23 is talking about reintegration, which will address those issues"
I don't see how integrating a negative force contributes to Security Sector Reform, but does that mean Congo can't learn from Rwanda (which is behind m23)?. The Congolese army could  for example study how RDF officers built a support network with officers in western armies. Congolese officers should produce case studies on SSR like this one by Rwanda's Frank Rusagara.

Even today Rwanda's Defense Forces and the Rwandan RPF profit from the relations built with people like Rick Orth and Tom Odom in the aftermath of the Rwandan Genocide as Tom Odom writes here:
'The initial phase of E-IMET took place in early 1994, attended by both formerRwandan Army (ex-FAR) and RPA soldiers. Then Major Rick Orth was the Defense Intelligence Agency analyst on the conflict in 1994; he joined me on the groundfor 60 days in late 1994.  He replaced me as the Defense Attaché in 1996.'
Rick Orth served as U.S. defense attaché to Rwanda (1996-1998) and Uganda (2001-2005). The DRC Mapping Exercise Report covers the period 1993-2003 during which the Rwandan Army (RPA) committed massive scale crimes against Hutu refugees that could constitute a crime of genocide. Gerard Prunier writes in his book Africa's World War how Rick Orth played a key role in warming the relationship between RPA and the U.S. Department of Defense during this time.  Former US Ambassador to Burundi (1994-1995) wrote in his book 'from bloodshed to hope in Burundi':
 "How U.S. military leaders had become so enamored of Paul Kagame I could not fully fathom....I was appalled that these skills had so successfully overshadowed his obvious preference for dictatorship over democracy, and his tolerance, or perhaps appetite, for vengeful ethnic slaughter, yet he was invited to the United States to be feted at the Pentagon. In time, I was sure that the truth about the RPA would come out. But how many lives would be lost, how much suffering endured, how much fear and despair would be borne in the interim?"
Yesterday, in a blogpost on Stars and Stripes, Rick Orth commented on a recent report by the United Nations Joint Human Rights Office:
'The report focused on mass rapes in and around the town of Minova. Among the Congolese soldiers who perpetrated these gross human-rights abuses were members of the U.S.-trained 391st Commando Battalion....
The horrific spree of sexual violence in Minova is a stain on our consciences. But if there is a silver lining to that incident, let it be an opening window to enact the real justice reforms needed to ensure that such a case never happens again.'
Instead of worrying about Rwanda's supposed cozy relationship with people like Tom Odom and Rick Orth the Congolese Army could see current debates on Security Sector Reform as a window of opportunity. Learning from Rwanda's Defense Force and building strong relations with senior military officers at the Pentagon could be essential to succesfull Security Sector Reform. So yes, Congolese officers can learn a lot from Rwanda.

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