It is very clear certain interests do not want to see peace and stability return to eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). They are conspiring to scuttle ongoing efforts by DRC to make the region safe and secure for its citizens and neighbouring countries.
This is not exactly new. It has happened many times before. Each time there has been an attempt to create some semblance of order in a region where central government authority has for long been absent, the effort has been met with opposition.
For some reason Rwanda has always been drawn into the problems of DRC. It is happening again.
In the last few months, the DRC government seems to have had enough of the insecurity in the east of the country and sent in its army (FARDC) to get rid of all the foreign armed groups from its territory.
These groups include, from Rwanda, the genocidaire FDLR and its many offshoots, the terrorist RNC, FLN and others, the ADF from Uganda and a motley collection from Burundi, as well as local Congolese militia.
The FARDC has launched successful operations against them and killed their top commanders and many fighters. Many more have been captured and repatriated. Civilians that they had been holding hostage have jumped on the opportunity to return home.
The government of President Felix Tshisekedi appears more determined that its predecessors to extend government control into the area, end the armed menace and return peace and progress to it.
This too, the lack of effective government in the area for almost all the country’s independence period has been a major cause of instability.
One would have thought these efforts would be applauded. At least the constant terror under which the local population have lived for decades was coming to an end.
The fear of rape and murder would be no more. The plunder of resources would stop. They would be free to lead normal lives. Rejoicing should have followed.
But no, there is condemnation instead, and not of the DRC government, but of a supposed invisible hand orchestrating events in the region. There are howls of protest that security and stability could finally return to the region.
It is revealing that these cries do not come from the population in the affected areas, but rather they are made by politicians, church leaders and NGOs in far away Kinshasa.
It is no secret that the presence in the region of international NGOs in the humanitarian and human rights business depends on the situation remaining as it is. Equally, it is well-known that there are foreign political and commercial interests that benefit from the chaos and have invested in its continuation
Opposition politicians were among the first to whip up anti-Rwanda feelings. Former Prime Minister Adolphe Muzito went farthest with his call for war against Rwanda and its eventual annexation.
The Catholic Church was not far behind in further fuelling anti-Rwanda emotions. The Archbishop of Kinshasa, Cardinal Fridolin Ambongo Besungu, is reported to have told a press conference in Kinshasa on January 7th:
“The general climate in the eastern part of the country is characterised by insecurity and misery...the goal of all this is the balkanisation of the country.” And he went on to claim an invisible hand was behind it.
There is no reward for discovering the insecurity and misery in that part of the country. It has been there for decades and its causes are well-known. If the Archbishop was not aware of it until now, that must be evidence of a serious lapse in the church’s pastoral duty.
Where the good Cardinal gets the idea of the country being broken up is difficult to understand when all that is happening is the best effort so far by any government in Kinshasa to bring peace to the region.
In promoting his balkanisation talk, Cardinal Ambongo has succeeded in doing three things, all of them negative.
First, he is undermining the efforts of his own government to restore peace and security to the region over which he is shedding tears.
Second, he is raising obstacles in President Tshisekedi’s attempt to establish cooperation with neighbours.
Third, he is fanning hatred against Rwanda among the Congolese population, and worse, against Kinyarwanda speaking Congolese in eastern DRC whose citizenship is always questioned at such moments.
The Cardinal is, of course, following a well-worn path of ecclesiastical political activism in the DRC. Many still remember the church organised demonstrations against former president Joseph Kabila’s government. They cannot have forgotten that they often ended in violence.
Not to be outdone, the media, NGOs and human rights groups led by Human Rights Watch, always eager to latch on to anything to which Rwanda’s name may be remotely connected, have added to the noise.
The irony (maybe not really) is that when the Congolese people in the east were crying out for help against the reign terror visited on them by the FDLR and its various factions, the ADF and local militias, all these crying now were strangely silent.
Not a word when women were being raped, homes looted and burnt, illegal exactions levied on them and when the nation’s resources were being plundered. No protests. No claims of invisible hands. No tears of anguish.
And now? A cacophony of noise of feigned concern.
All this coming out now, when the Congolese government is succeeding in ending the source of Cardinal Ambongo’s torment, is not a coincidence. It is part of a plan to foil the government’s action and drag in a neighbouring country.
Under normal circumstances the Cardinal should lend his powerful voice to the government’s campaign in the east of the country. After all, it would make his pastoral duty that much easier.
But he won’t because the church is not disinterested in thus matter. It was always opposed to the Tshisekedi presidency, preferring another in his stead.
The humanitarian brigade cannot be pleased to see the reason for their relevance in the region removed.
The whole thing is so coordinated there must be an invisible hand behind it, a real one this time. This is the hand that should concern the Archbishop of Kinshasa, not a neighbour who is more interested in the stability of the region.
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