False accusations: the price Rwanda has to pay for taking a stand
A lot has been said about the anger raised in this country by the UN’s latest accusation, as evidenced by friends’ comments in these pages, and I hate drawing from the same murky waters.
But I find it irresistible as I cannot understand why Rwandans are so miffed. As one of these friends predicted not so long ago, the attack was bound to come. What the trigger was going to be was also public knowledge: a rise in the tempo of DRC killings.
Why a rise in the tempo? Because a slumbering international community that has forgotten that there is a war going on in some giant African country, especially during a short-lived lull, should not be disturbed. For, so disturbed, it will recall that there is a giant “stabilising” body in that country. And that the body is gobbling up close to two billion of its citizens’ hard-earned dollars a year to keep the peace. That body is the UN ‘Stabilising’ Mission in the Congo (MONUSCO). So, the UN must blame Rwanda.
Ordinarily, of course, Rwanda and the UN should be partners. And, indeed, in many areas the two are working together, especially in keeping the peace around the world. Rwanda is collaborating with the UN to contribute to peace-keeping in a number of countries. But in contributing, she does it on her terms and gives her condition: these forces must have the mandate to protect civilians. The two understand each other on this and are working together amicably.
Yet when it comes to the vexing region of the Great Lakes, the UN and Rwanda are always at loggerheads. The UN points accusing fingers at Rwanda and the latter cries foul, seeing false accusations. Nevertheless, the UN seems determined to convince the world that Rwanda is behind the troubles that continue to bedevil the DRC, specifically. Which, as both know, is not true.
So, why is the UN fork-tongued on the issue of the DRC? That a world body should maintain a combative stance against a collaborative partner with such determination is puzzling.
Puzzling, however, to only those who have not been watching the two ‘partners’ from the start. This bad blood from the UN traces its origin in the events of the early 1990s, when the regime in power then was pushing Rwanda towards a precipice. These were the events that called for the intervention of the UN to oversee a peaceful transition. That’s how Rwanda met the UN Assistance Mission for Rwanda (UNAMIR) in 1993.
The RPF as the rebel force that was fighting the regime in power, seeking a democratisation of the country, as early as that could clearly see an impending apocalypse and repeatedly informed UNAMIR. However, this UN mission that was mandated to keep the peace and oversee the formation of a government of unity failed to heed those warnings.
Leaders at the headquarters steadfastly denied the mission powers of intervention, even as the regime was killing innocent civilians. Romeo Dalaire, UN commander, would perhaps have intervened but he needed such powers, which were continually denied him.
So, the situation developed into the genocide that the RPF had predicted despite the massive heaps of military hardware at the disposal of the UN mission.
I remember hearing word of how the commander of the RPA (RPF’s fighting wing), today’s President Kagame, approached Dalaire with a suggestion: “Instead of letting your fighting machines gather rust, why don’t you lend me two tanks and I put an end to these killings?” As to his answer, search me, but he did not.
In the end, the “assistance mission” did not stop at letting its machines gather rust. It went on to show Rwandans an ‘idle’ pair of heels when it was recalled by the headquarters in the thick of a raging genocide. By dint of their own effort, small quantities of arms notwithstanding, the RPF fighters were left to salvage whatever they could of their country.
However, the UN was still with Rwanda. A small part of the mission had been left behind and, now that the coast was clear, the UN insisted they should “continue to keep the peace”.
Rwanda laughed in their face and put down her foot. In the acerbic tongue of Claude Dusaidi, now departed, bless his soul, “they were asked not only to make haste and go but also take with them their “scrap metals and hole-poked jerry cans”. At their reluctant acceptance to go, they’d offered to “donate” a few old jalopies and their jerry-can fuel containers.
In the short time of peace they’d been here, they’d managed to show the new RPF government what their intention was. To turn Rwandan men into one-dollar brokers and ladies into one-dollar flesh-peddlers. And, with their dollar bags, to turn the country into one sprawling alcohol-guzzling playground and her budding economy into a directionless fiend.
Putting a stop to this partying was inviting the wrath of the UN. Rwandans know they’ve been paying the price and no longer need worry. Rather, they should brace themselves for worse yet.
Exposing the UN as an inane body that uses peace-keeping as a fund-raiser is worth the risk.
Contact email: butapa[at]gmail.com