One thing that makes the Democratic Republic of the Congo a unique country is that, right from the first day of its independence from Belgium in 1960 up to today, its governments have never contained the fires of insecurity that have roiled it. From the days of the Congo crisis that saw events such as Katanga and South Kasai secede, followed by horrific civil strife, and by riots in the wake of the assassination of Patrice Lumumba at the hands of army chief Mobutu, an agent of the erstwhile colonialists, the place has known no peace or stability. (Remember that every time Felix Tshisekedi, or his officials trot the globe, whining that “Rwanda is causing insecurity” in their country). The failures of Congolese governments have seen them outsource their country’s security to the UN, first in 1960, when the government of the time appealed to the body for military assistance following rioting and mutinies by Congolese soldiers. Then UN Secretary-General Dag Hammarskjold obtained a Security Council approval to send UN troops, which ended up spending four years in the Congo. But even when the UN troops left, the government (of Mobutu Sese Seko) never took the requisite steps to create a cohesive, strong, or professional national military. Mobutu and his henchmen only were focused on looting of every public resource, and to hell with everything else! In the end, Mobutu presided over a shell of a country, but did not seem to know it. When defeated genocidal forces in Rwanda fled to the then Zaire in 1994, driving over a million people before them across the border into refuge, it was only for them to go about creating zones of influence, with the tacit approval of Mobutu. The goal of these ex-FAR and Interahamwe militias re-organizing, notably in the giant Mugunga refugee camp, was to re-launch attacks into Rwanda, to finish the genocide they started. Mobutu not only allowed his country to be turned into a training and recruiting ground for the genocidaires. He also approved as the French (who during the government of Francois Mitterrand were the main backers of the defeated Habyarimana regime) supplied them arms. The young government in Kigali was never going to sit around, and wait for the Ex-FAR and Interahamwe bring genocide, and instability, back to Rwanda. They warned Mobutu there would be consequences if he didn’t put a stop to the activities of the genocidaires. Mobutu arrogantly refused to listen. The rest, as they say, is history. Rwanda attacked and its military went all the way to Kinshasa, with Mobutu hightailing it out of there. Not long afterwards, the Congolese – under new guy Laurent Kabila – cried to the UN for help. They had no remotely serious national army of their own, to take care of their national security. In came Monuc, later to become Monusco, which in the end solved nothing, but instead ended up becoming a huge part of the problem. One outcome of Mobutu’s refusal to decisively deal the genocidaires, say by disarming all of them and processing them as ordinary refugees, was that they took root as one of the countless illegal armed groups in the vast country. Those that scattered before the advance of the Rwandan forces went on to reorganize, notably in eastern DRC. They eventually became the FDLR, which has been terrorizing communities there, perpetrating massacres, looting, raping, committing all sorts of crimes against humanity. FDLR’s main target in DRC is its Tutsi, Kinyarwanda-speaking communities. Another remarkable thing about the Democratic Republic of the Congo is that this is a state only in name. It’s only is a country in that it is a space bordered by nine other countries. Here, institutions exist, but are completely fictitious. There supposedly is a military, but the Congo’s armies have never been anything more than motley collections of ill-disciplined thugs whom civilians fear even more than bona-fide armed robbers. There is never anything like law and order in DRC. There, it is a sick joke to hear talk of a social contract between rulers and ruled. There supposedly is a civil service. Yet there are no roads, except a few badly potholed monstrosities, mostly in the main cities. There are no water services, except for the very wealthy that can bribe the so-called water authorities to keep it flowing to their homes. Electricity is a joke. Hospitals are a dilapidated, stinking nightmare. Salaries aren’t paid, and for anyone to get the smallest service they have to pay bribes. These problems are not confined to the DRC. But it is in there that they are most pronounced. Even then, under the preceding regimes of Mobutus, or the Kabilas, there always was some faint hope that, maybe, a miracle could occur and the country turn a corner. Under President Felix Tshisekedi, the DRC is broken. Terminally. Under him, corruption, mismanagement of public affairs, poverty, and much more have become worse. Insecurity not only has multiplied during his regime; he actively courts it. Tshisekedi has taken the FDLR under his wing, in a cynical ploy to cling onto power. All this raises many urgent questions. One is, why wouldn’t the Kinyarwanda-speaking communities of the Kivus borrow a leaf, say from the SPLA in Sudan which fought for self-determination, to free themselves from the oppression of a menacing central government? Also, what do people in eastern Congo have in common with appalling regimes in distant Kinshasa? The fact they mutually inhabit a space carved out by a voracious Belgian king over a hundred and forty years ago? And what law is there that says one group of people has to passively accept massacres, pogroms, or genocides against them?