KIGALI - President Paul Kagame’s envoy to the Great Lakes Region, Ambassador Joseph Mutaboba, has called for caution on the decision to increase the forces of the United Nations’ Peace Keeping Mission in DR Congo (MONUC).
The Security Council Thursday decided to increase the peace keeping forces from 17,000 to 20,000. at the behest of France, a permanent member of the council.
Monuc is the largest peace keeping operation by the UN. Asked if the increase in MONUC numbers will have an impact on peace and security in eastern Congo, Mutaboba said, “It might make an impact if and only if they have a clear mandate and specific target.”
He added that even if the force was increased to ‘40,000 or 60,000’ it means nothing “if the root causes of the conflict in the region are not addressed. MONUC will have no impact if they continue protecting the Interahamwe.”
Mutaboba also said that the UN is fully aware of the problem of negative forces hiding in Eastern Congo and the ‘rape and guns for minerals’ accusations against MONUC forces especially from Pakistan and India.
“I hope they learned their lesson,”he said.
The decision to increase the number follows recent outbreaks of fighting in eastern DR Congo. The National Congress for the Defence of the People (CNDP) forces under the command of Congolese dissident General Laurent Nkunda are fighting against a coalition of Congolese government forces (FARDC), a rebel outfit the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), Interahamwe and Mai Mai.
The decision to reinforce the MONUC forces has been criticised by many observers noting that the peace keeping force even before the increase in its numbers is inefficient and has also conspired with the various negative forces in the region to fight against Nkunda.
Nkunda says that he is fighting to defend minority communities in Eastern Congo especially his ethnic Tutsi tribesmen who are threatened by the FDLR and the Interahamwe.
Since its creation, MONUC has been accused of inefficiency for failing to maintain peace especially in the eastern part of DR Congo where 26 rebel groups are reported to be fighting.
The biggest threat among these groups, experts say, are the FDLR who are remnants of the genocidal forces of Rwanda who continue victimizing civilian ethnic Tutsi in Congo. Of the current 17,000 strong MONUC force in the Congo, only 6000 are based in Eastern Congo.
According to security experts at the Nairobi based East Africa Standby Brigade, the negative forces that entered the jungles of Eastern Congo after the genocide initially numbered over 10,000 but it is believed that they have increased in numbers and logistics since they entered into partnership with the DR Congo government forces.