Tuesday, June 10, 2014

What The FDLR Surrender Debate Tells Us About 2016

In today's aljazeera's blogpost on the ongoing FDLR surrender process Catherine Wambua-Soi  writes:
'I asked their executive secretary Colonel Wilson Irategeka why so few fighters came. He said it was a process and more would leave the forest soon.'
Sunday's FDLR press release, visible online at least yesterday morning, makes clear it's leadership is closely following the debate on their relocalization among politicians from different parties and régions and 'civil society' in the DRC:

It's no rocket science to understand why 'the FDLR wants their safety guaranteed'. Yesterday's critical comments by UK's foreign office concerning the succession of acts of violence and violent rhetoric against the Rwandan opposition can be seen as a contribution to the ongoing FDLR surrender process as well.

In this sensetive context last week's words by Rwanda's president Paul Kagame
  'We will arrest or shoot anyone posing a security threat'
were clearly meant to discourage FDLR to consider surrender. The strong symbolism, Kagamé loves sublimation, wasn't missed by the opposition.

But the FDLR surrender process is also separating sheep from goats of the Congolese political class leading up to the 2016 elections. Knowingly or not, political parties and politicians that oppose a pragmatic solution to the FDLR problem are inflicting immense damage on their brand. I'm convinced the statement
 'Nord kivu : la population est contre le cantonnement des FDLR dans sa province....et veulent qu'il rentrent chez eux au Rwanda' 
(obtained through redactrice en chef  at OASIS CONGO FM TV inNord-Kivu  @TynaDolce , Follow her!!!) by the president of North Kivu's opposition party coalition, Lumbu-Lumbu will do lasting damage to national parties like Vital Kamerhe's UNC and to the credibility of Vital Kamerhe himself.

If Congo ends up in 2016 without even a serious alternative to Joseph Kabila, it will be just as much the fault of populist politicians that didn't do their job. Now is not the time for counterproductive nonsense. It's time to build a serious political party and I would think Goma to be the ideal place for such a new force to emerge. This is a huge opportunity for any political party to break free from this North-Kivu alliance by making clear it supports a pragmatic solution to the FDLR problem. Goma's location reminds me of Cincinnati where the Republican party was born. A party that similarly emerged from a split in the Whig coalition.

UPDATE: Lambert Mende responds today:

« Il s’agit d’une opération militaire. Je n’ai pas souvenir que dans notre pays ou d’ailleurs dans quel qu’autre pays, les opérations militaires se discutent avec la société civile ou les notables »

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