The November 9 peace agreement between Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo should, according to plan, bear its first fruit this week. Kinshasa is supposed to share with Kigali a comprehensive action plan to disarm and repatriate the ex-FAR/Interahamwe militia – currently known by a French acronym, FDLR – by tomorrow December 1.
And with only a day to go, it still remains to be seen whether President Joseph Kabila’s government will honour its pledge, and should it fail, then it will have become the first major blow to the agreement, which most partners described as a landmark.
Historically, Congo is known for reneging on its own promises, at least in Rwanda.
Under the Lusaka and Pretoria agreements which saw Rwanda withdrawing her troops from DRC in 2002, the Congolese government was in return obliged to disarm and repatriate ex-FAR/Interahamwe. This never materialised.
Instead Kinshasa entrenched its cooperation with FDLR, and went on to integrate and promote FDLR officers within its national army.
Several members of this genocidal militia adopted new names and were appointed to head certain Congolese military units.
A number of them have since been captured while fighting alongside FARDC, the Congolese national army.
Expectedly, this strange relationship between a legitimate government and a group that is responsible for the death of a million people in a neighbouring country (Rwanda) constrained further relations between both countries.
Like any other responsible government, Rwanda was and remains far from being comfortable for a genocidal force to continue operating right under its nose, with a sole mission of attacking it and complete its genocidal calling.
It is that inherent sacred responsibility of denying evil minded elements from exterminating a people that continues to render credence to some everlasting conflicts, like that in the Middle East, or lately, the US-led war on terror.
That is why the recent pact on forceful disarmament of FDLR – blacklisted as a terrorist group by Washington D.C – should not become just another political maneuver by Kinshasa.
It came as a surprise to many, especially in the region, when DRC announced that it would this time round firmly engage FDLR militarily.
Praises came from all corners of international decision-making circles the world over, congratulating the two countries for clinching the historic deal.
The UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon described the pact as “a significant breakthrough” while the current Security Council President, Ambassador Marty Natalegawa, said it was “an important milestone towards the definitive settlement of the problem of illegal armed groups in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.”
The US, which was an observer to the agreement, also hailed the development and called for its immediate implementation.
The UN facilitated the talks in the run up to the accord, while the EU was the other observer.
However, it is important to remember that the UN, EU and the US were all equally supportive of the July 30, 2002 Pretoria agreement which DRC never honoured.
Another important element in the Nairobi pact is that UN forces in DRC (Monuc) agreed to help Kinshasa come good on its part of the bargain by facilitating the planning and implementation process. And the UN’s declared intentions should simply translate into that. Period.
The Security Council was also asked to establish sanctions against Ex-FAR/Interahamwe and to rein in member states to “prevent all fundraising, mobilisation or propaganda activities of the ex-FAR/Interahamwe.”
In light of this, it is unacceptable and a mockery to these peace efforts to continue availing such elements as FDLR’s leader Ignace Murwanashyaka access to media to propagate their destructive ideologies.
From his residence in Germany, this leader of a genocidal force goes about freely struggling to undo what the Tripartite Plus countries and other regional peace initiatives are building.
Tripartite Plus members have repeatedly asked the media not to give platform to Murwanashyaka and co. but in vain.
Why on earth should someone out there want to continue making fun of the desperate efforts by leaders of the Great Lakes countries to build a future for their poor countries? The Security Council should immediately stop this kind of irritating ridicule.
However, the primary responsibility to end the sleepless nights endured by Congolese civilians at the hands of FDLR, and to bring to book those responsible for the 1994 Genocide, roundly rests with regional governments.
The atrocities committed by FDLR in this region are so despicable that people shouldn’t at this particular time be still discussing about how such groups should be treated.
That’s why Nairobi peace agreement shouldn’t end up in thin air.
The writer is the News Editor of The New Times Publication Sarl