The Kivus Peace Conference:

The Democratic Republic of Congo through the Ministry of Interior and the National Assembly is organizing a Peace Conference on North and South Kivu Provinces to take place from January 6-12, at Goma.

The Democratic Republic of Congo through the Ministry of Interior and the National Assembly is organizing a Peace Conference on North and South Kivu Provinces to take place from January 6-12, at Goma.

The preparatory work of this Conference which was officially opened on Thursday, December 27,  2007 has been boycotted by the civil society in both Kivus and available information indicates that it was marred by irregularities.

It is worth noting that in early May 2007, such a Conference was suggested by former DRC Vice President, Azarias Ruberwa from RCD political party, an idea that was supported by the International Community and the Opposition as a solution to end hostilities and insecurity in the Eastern DRC.

Nevertheless, the proposal was rejected by the DRC president and both Kivus National and Provincial extremist Parliamentarians who opted for military means to resolve the conflict. 

However, President Kabila’s wishful thinking did not come to fruition as he had expected, as his FARDC army encountered a humiliating defeat by the CNDP forces in what was supposed to be the ultimate offensive to crush rebellious general Nkunda and his movement.

This latest defeat forced the DRC government to convene the Conference, though even then, analysts are skeptical that the conference, dubbed as Peace, Security and Development on North and South Kivu Provinces, will not address the core root causes of the conflict since it failed to include all actors in the eastern conflict area in its preparation.

Since the advertisement of the holding of the conference, civil society representatives from North and South Kivu have threatened to boycott the conference. Reasons given include the rushed organisation of the conference, judged impossible as the clashes continued with no ceasefire in sight; the outrageous budget allocated to the organisation of the conference, taking into consideration the urgent need of tens of thousands of displaced people who have not received any aid; the lack of consultation of civil society during the preparatory process of the conference, and under representation of civil society in the list of participants presented by the organizers.

Considering that the round table conference has been imposed without the political will of the Kinshasa government, its resolutions will not address the fundamental cause of the conflict hence eastern DRC and the region will remain instable.

It appears that the conference is a delaying tool employed by the Kinshasa government and her allies to buy more time as they prepare for another military offensive against CNDP. As a matter of fact, the FARDC has continued to reorganise and has continued its troop movements, an indication that it is preparing for war.

The conference could as well be considered a delaying tactic by the DRC government to implement the Nairobi Communiqué. It is deplorable to note that the Kinshasa government intended to include FDLR on the list of participants in the conference.

Indeed, in its letter of 22/12/2007 addressed to Kinshasa authorities, FDLR expressed its appreciation to the proposal of Provincial Members of Parliament and Ministers to include it in the talks as one of the actors in the conflict.

Unsuspecting minds would wonder what are the DRC government’s intentions in inviting a foreign and above all terrorist group to a conference to find solutions to the problems of which it is accused of being the principal catalyst.

This alone is a clear testimony of the DRC government’s support and collaboration with the FDLR which will obviously undermine the resolutions of this conference.
And as if they were in their own rights, this genocidal force does not hesitate to give a sermon to the government: “The founding members of the FDLR are surprised and deeply shocked by the decision taken at the last minute to remove the FDLR from the list of the invitees to the Conference on the Peace, Security and Development in Kivu, yet FDLR combatants are considered to be among the actors of war in the Eastern DRC.

The FDLR think that this decision may result into heavy consequences since it prevents the participants in the conference from getting the opportunity to deeply understand the nature of FDLR problem, its demands and commitment in the process of peace in our region ravaged by incessant wars since 1990,” they said in the letter. What a shame!

Analysts also indicate that President Kabila lacks the political will and is under pressure from the United Nations and US government to find a political solution to the conflict in the East. Given the above facts, it is important to note that the world should expect less from the conference since the Kinshasa government is still determined to engage CNDP of Gen. Laurent Nkunda militarily.

It has unfortunately turned the conference into a forum for nursing the defeat suffered at the hands of CNDP as well as to undermine the Nairobi Communiqué in which it had pledged to neutralise and disarm the FDLR.

The conference only aims at concealing the defeat suffered as well as delaying the implementation of the Nairobi Communiqué.

The DRC government is still determined to reverse the humiliation suffered at the hands of CNDP at Mushake by recapturing it.

A preliminary inventory indicates that a big number of government forces who fought at Mushake were killed at the frontline, while others sustained serious injuries. Tonnes of ammunition were lost to the CNDP as well.

The international community should not expect anything tangible from the peace, security and development conference on the Kivus and should instead maintain pressure on the DRC government to initiate peace talks with the CNDP on practical ways of restoring lasting peace, security and development in the Kivus.

The international community should also discourage the Congolese belligerents from pursuing a military solution as both defeat and victory would be fraught with danger as witnessed in the recent offensives. 

A pragmatic international support to the DRC government to address the threat caused by the FDLR and other foreign armed negative forces in the Eastern DRC and to the region is urgently required. The DRC government must stop all collaboration with FDLR and implement its commitments made in the Nairobi Communiqué. 

The conflict in the Kivus can only be managed by concrete and intermediate confidence building measures among all stakeholders to the conflict and opening of the political space to competition for political power regardless of tribal bases.

Ends

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