When evidence first emerged early this year, of United Nations Forces (MONUC) in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), arming FDLR/Interahamwe, in exchange for minerals, MONUC leaders in Kinshasa were quick to deny the accusations, until they were confronted with irrefutable evidence, as the story was broadcast on television networks around the world.
Cornered, Mr. Allan Doss and his spin doctors chose to describe the outrage as an aberration by a few rogue soldiers. However, the short history of the UN mission in the DRC, has demonstrated that the entire attitude and conduct of MONUC has been not only flawed, but equally disgraceful. The last thing anyone would expect of a United Nations force deployed to bring about stability, is for the troops to turn around and arm a genocidal outfit that has been designated a terrorist organisation by, among others, the UN itself.
In the wake of the recent resumption of hostilities between the Democratic Republic of Congo Armed Forces (FARDC) and Congrès National pour la Défense du Peuple (CNDP), the United Nations (MONUC) efforts to suck the Government of Rwanda into the conflict is matched only by President Joseph Kabila’s rabid rhetoric.
The UN has shamelessly been working overtime to portray the fighting in Eastern DRC, not as the civil war that it is, but as a conflict between Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Some Uruguayan UN commander took a cue from his superiors’ propaganda manual and read from President Kabila’s script, accusing Rwandan Defence Forces (RDF) of fighting alongside CNDP forces.
However the most stunning statement underscoring the United Nations mindset came from John Holmes, the United Nations Humanitarian Coordinator, when he appeared on the BBC’s “Hard Talk” programme hosted by Mr. Stephen Sackur, on Wednesday and Thursday this week. The other guest on the programme was Ms Claire Short, a veteran British politician and an expert on the Great Lakes region.
While Claire Short demonstrated deep insight and evident command of the facts and history of the conflict in Eastern DRC, the top United Nations official could not depart from his organisation’s play book. Mr. John Holmes’ prescription was that Presidents Paul Kagame and Joseph Kabila should work to “resolve their differences”. It was at this point that the former British Minister for overseas Development took Mr. Holmes to school.
Mr. Claire Short made it abundantly clear that the United Nations’ failure to disarm FDLR/Interahamwe in the Democratic Republic of the Congo is the cause of the conflict in Eastern DRC. She warned that as long as the DRC is working closely with FDLR/Interahamwe, the conflict will persist. She put it to Mr. Stephen Sackur that there is no evidence that the Government of Rwanda supports CNDP.
Ms Short went on to point out that General Laurent Nkunda has brought order in areas under his organisation’s control. In a clear demonstration of the UN reckless mindset with regard to the Great Lakes region, Mr. Holmes urged that there are links between the Government of Rwanda and CNDP, but they “are difficult to figure out”. Indeed this kind of careless speculation on the part of UN top diplomats only helps to escalate the conflict in the DRC.
Ms Claire Short went on to remind the viewers that the FDLR/Interahamwe are killing Tutsis in the Congo and they can’t wait to cross into Rwanda to continue the killings.
“In 1994 one million people died in Rwanda on order, while people have been dying in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, over the years because of disorder”, Ms Short went on. She wondered why the United Nations forces are “required to back up” the DRC government, instead of disarming the genocidal forces that are wrecking havoc in the region.
As for the French Foreign Affairs Minister, Bernard Kouchner’s recent visit to the region, the British politician didn’t mince her words, describing the trip as useless and characterizing Mr. Kouchner as nothing but a headline grabber, who shamelessly did something similar during the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda.
In typical United Nations double faced talk, overwhelmed by the truth, Mr. Holmes found himself compelled to admit that FDRL are a dangerous organisation that “has caused large scale insecurity in the region and needs to be disarmed.”
Although MONUC represents the single largest United Nations force anywhere, with a huge budget to fund the operations, some in the international community are campaigning for additional troops in the DRC, arguing that the boost in military strength would bring an end to the conflict.
However, as long as President Kabila still holds on to the FDLR to shoot his guns, with MONUC burying its head in the sand, nothing will ever change in Eastern Congo.
The recent resignation of General Vicente Diaz de Villegas the MONUC Force Commander, only three weeks into the position, reportedly disgusted with lack of leadership in the DRC, and MONUC’s open support for FDLR/Interahamwe, should have served as rude awakening, at least for his employers in New York. But it seems no body really cares.