The news that the Democratic Republic of Congo has fulfilled a November 9 agreement to send its plans to the Rwanda government regarding disarming Forces Democratique de Liberation du Rwanda rebels (FDLR) is most welcome.
But there is always a lingering ‘but…’
It is not the first time the DRC has committed itself to flushing out the ex-FAR/ Interahamwe militia that baptized itself with the FDLR tag. The wonder has always been that since these Interahamwe killers are committing more havoc to Congolese than to Rwandans, the government of Congo would be very serious in getting rid of them swiftly. But no. There has been a lot of dithering and procrastination – something that has finally shown the whole world the politics behind the need to keep the FDLR in Congo.
This is what has led to the FDLR issue becoming complex, even for the MONUC forces there, for they cannot well force the government where they are operating to forcefully disarm the bandits, when the hosts feel they still need them. The issue has always swung from the political, to the military, and back again to the round tables. And we sincerely hope they will remain there until the operation is concluded.
What the DRC needs to learn from Rwanda is that there is no foreign nation that will entirely solve a country’s woes without a lot of input and sacrifice from the troubled nation itself. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice will come and meet all the regional leaders, but all she will do is urge them to solve their own problems since they are impacting negatively on their development. Meaning that she will be urging the DRC to meet its own commitments to returning peace to the eastern part of Congo – something they need not be told by anybody since it appears all too obvious.
We are hoping that the DRC holds its part of the bargain in the yet-to-be unveiled plan of action, and that there will be no backtracking this time, as any wasted opportunity translates directly into lost lives and shattered communities and economies.