The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) government is not genuine in its promises to bring peace in the East in particular and the region in general. Observers of last few months’ diplomatic and political activities around the issues of security and peace in the eastern DRC and the region cannot help but wonder at what kind of a game Kinshasa authorities are playing.
There could be several reasons for this.
Late last year, when the Democratic Republic of Congo and Rwanda signed the Nairobi Joint Communiqué to address the unrelenting threats caused by armed groups in Eastern Congo starting with the cruelest and dangerous one, the EX-FAR/Interahamwe, optimists believed that the too long awaited peace would soon be restored in this troubled part of the country.
Indeed, the Nairobi Joint Communiqué implementation plan provided for the “identification, localisation of EX-FAR Interahamwe and other negative forces,” equipping the Units to be involved in disarmament operations” among other things. And this was supposed “to lead to, by mid-March 2008, having isolated and separated Ex-FAR/Interahamwe from the local population, destroyed their tactical and operational networks, retrieved their arms and arrested the Genocidaires,”etc.
However, the DRC government’s next move to initiate, a “conference on Peace, Security and Development in North and South Kivu” in January 2008 to address among others the same issues agreed on in Nairobi proved to many that it only signed the Communiqué because of regional and international pressure and was launching this new initiative as a delaying tactic if not a deliberate strategy to avoid and shelve the implementation of the conclusions of the Nairobi Joint Communiqué.
Some expert analysts on DRC also believe that, one other reason for convening the conference on the Kivus was to whitewash the previous shameful FARDC defeat on the hands of Nkunda’s CNDP forces at Mushake while giving the Head of State Joseph Kabila an opportunity to appear both locally and internationally as a pacifist.
Unfortunately, for the Congolese people and for the attainment of peace in the region in general, the analysts’ pessimistic conclusions were to be confirmed by the empty results that came out of the much advertised conference. The conference only dealt with principles but the details were left up to a Technical Commission.
Let us just mention two major ‘details’ that the Technical commission will have to look at: The CNDP insists it cannot disarm before the FDLR does while the DRC government and its allied groups want CNDP to be disarmed first. The Conference also failed to take a clear position on the fate of Nkunda, wanted by the DRC government for alleged war crimes.
His case is not specifically covered in the amnesty provisions and so his future remains uncertain. As if this was not enough, the very implementation of the much celebrated Commitment Act (Acte d’engagement) signed between the Kinshasa government and the numerous groups is so problematic that it is likely to end up being just another piece of paper.
Until now, the commissions that must ensure its implementation are not yet in place, the amnesty law project, yet one of the corner stones of the commitment act, won’t be tabled in Parliament before March owing to the National assembly break.
One wonders how MONUC will be able to deploy sufficient troops in all localities presently occupied by the different armed groups.
In actual fact, if the territory controlled by the CNDP is relatively homogeneous, easy to access and easy to delimit for MONUC, it is not the case for different areas occupied by FDLR (EX-FAR Interahamwe), Mayi Mayis, Rastas, etc.
One knows well that for Kinshasa, what matters before anything else is the neutralisation of CNDP; the rest is none of its concern. But, it won’t be easy for the CNDP to accept to disarm as long as the fighting structures of the FDLR and the Mayi Mayis remain intact. Besides, the FDLR has raised up the bid while affirming that only the Rome declaration of March 31, 2005 counts for them.”
This blatant FDLR immixing into Congolese issues may be gives a hint to President Kabila’s other Machiavellian intentions, this time towards Rwanda. And indeed, it is well known that, while in Goma for the Conference, President Kabila also met an FDLR delegation composed of among others Brig. Gen. Hakizimana Appolinaire a.k.a poète, FDLR Commissioner for Defense and Lt. Col Nizeyimana Michel, not withstanding that these individuals belong to an internationally defined terrorist group that should have been arrested by the UN forces present in Goma.
But more relevantly, one wonders what the talks were about? Invading Rwanda as an alternative to the Nairobi Communiqué? With promise of political, military and diplomatic support in order to coerce Rwanda’s government into the so called inter Rwandese dialogue..?
Recent events seem to confirm such unwarranted and suicidal ploys. According to reliable sources, on 30th Jan 2008, elements of FDLR and PARECO attacked CNDP 4th Bde in Bihambwe, Masisi, prompting another surge of refugees to flee to Rwanda. Since the year began, 147 refugees crossed into Rwanda. On the same day 120 FARDC elements arrived in Goma from Bukavu and stationed at Goma airport.
These movements clearly indicate DRC government’s determination to solve the conflict in eastern Congo militarily. President Kabila never, in the first place believed in the Goma conference, it was simply a question of buying time to garner support to wage war against CNDP.
In a related development, since January 26 2008, DRC government has been airlifting an assortment of arms and ammunitions from some countries in the region. So far, four airlifts have been delivered to Kinshasa and Lubumbashi.
Due to an arms embargo and International pressure to solve the problems in Kivu politically, DRC is secretly acquiring an assortment of arms and ammunitions for a planned military offensive against CNDP and most likely another adventure together with its old ally, the FDLR.
In his continued smokescreen cover up, on February 2 President Kabila signed an order to create a program of secularization. According to radiookapi.net, the national program of secularization, pacification, stabilization and reconstruction of the North and South Kivu, named “Amani”, has the objective of implementing the Goma conference recommendations.
This Amani Program is placed under the authority of the president of the Republic and will be executed in a period of six months, renewable. The specific objective of the program is to ensure the implementation of the resolutions and the recommendations of the Conference on peace, security and development in the two provinces of the Kivu as well as the commitment act signed in Goma.
Are the Technical Commissions that were to follow up the Conference’s recommendations no longer relevant? So soon! We are there for even more surprises. Just wait and see. And those in charge, be ware and be prepared!