Conferences. Agreements. Communiques. Memoranda. Welcome expressions of intent. The bag of expressions can never run dry of words relating to efforts undertaken to get the people of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), and particularly those in the eastern part of the Congo where the Kivus lie, get peace. Nairobi. Sun City. Pretoria. Lusaka.
Every succeeding effort brightens up hope for the people living there, only to be dashed when the protagonists quickly forget that they have just inked papers committing themselves to bringing peace to the Kivu and they revert to belligerency.
The latest round of talks that started Sunday, January 6 and are purportedly to last a week, were called by President Joseph Kabila himself. They are internal efforts geared towards finding a way forward for the region. But it is unfortunate that already, there are growing murmurs of failure of this well intentioned meet.
What can one make of a situation where the need to meet is recognized, but the convening authority decides to keep away? Is this not a slap in the face of the delegates who have been invited?
Rwanda is desirous that Kivu gets peace. The most important pivot in this is that without the Ex FAR and Interahamwe militia who are unleashing terror in the region being disarmed and withdrawn, hope of peace in the region is very dim. This has been at the centre of many agreements, and perhaps President Kabila needs not call any conferences if this is done.
There is no conference, or even agreement for that matter, that does not end without it calling for the disbanding of this FDLR terror machine. So if there is lack of seriousness, or ability, to do this, then further conferences can be regarded as a mere waste of time. As has been so tellingly insinuated by the half-hearted invitation to talk.
Advice to whoever wants to participate in any further conferences about peace in eastern Congo: demand why the previous commitments to flush out the FDLR have not been honoured yet, and do not sit down to parley before the issue has been addressed fully.