I was dismayed by the recently published UN report on the Democratic Republic of the Congo, in which it is alleged that Rwanda supports the Congres National pour la Défense du Peuple (CNDP) of Laurent Nkundabatware.
Although the authors say that they “used evidentiary standards recommended by the report of the Informal Working Group of the Security Council on General Issues of Sanctions”, the report is riddled with deliberate falsehoods, inaccuracies, bias and stereotypes that have characterised self styled experts who have reported on Rwanda in the past.
Even the uninitiated cannot fail to see the inherent lack of professionalism and intellectual rigour. No wonder it is punctuated by hedges of the type: “The Group has received numerous allegations …The Group has not been able to corroborate those allegations” or “Given the nature of the support, there is little documentation available to prove Rwandan material support to CNDP”.
So, why make those serious allegations in the first place?Surely, how the authors of this report can refer to themselves as experts beggars belief.
I am personally convinced that the authors of the report were on a mission. It is one of those reports where those who commission it know in advance and actually dictate the outcome.
The authors have no reason to object because they are serving the same interests as those who will provide the pay cheque. Just look at the timing and you will understand what I mean.
Firstly, the release of the report had to coincide with the renewal of MONUC’s mandate and the increase of its military strength.
And yet, despite the fact that MONUC is the largest and most expensive UN mission, it is also the most inept and least effective.
They have not dealt with the FDLR/Interahamwe as they were supposed to. Instead they have been involved in the lucrative trade of Congo’s minerals and have indulged in rape, prostitution, sexual exploitation of minors, and trafficking of weapons (see for instance the UN’s findings of its own internal investigations and the video “ Le déshonneur des casques bleus”). MONUC is, in fact, viewed by some as Congo’s main human-rights abuser.
In such circumstances, it is hard to imagine how the mandate of such a mission can be renewed and the money they spend (one billion American dollars every year) justified.
Most observers would say that MONUC cannot realistically maintain peace in the very area where they have committed such grievous crimes and where their reputation is in tatters.
So, what do their masters do? They have to put on a brave face, try to shield themselves from blame, and pretend that MONUC’s raison d’être has never been stronger.
They also must find a scapegoat to which they will attribute all of MONUC’s failures. And who else but Rwanda, “the bad guy”! If there is a serious humanitarian crisis in the DRC which MONUC has failed to stem, it must be attributed to Rwanda!
If, and as we know, the FDLR/Interahamwe continue to kill, rape, and generally wreck havoc in eastern Congo, it must be the fault of Rwanda!
If CNDP fights to protect innocent civilians and registers military victory after victory, they must be supported by Rwanda! And we can go on with these false accusations.
Secondly, the UN report comes out when, for the first time, diplomatic efforts between Rwanda and the DRC are beginning to bear fruit.
Both Governments have come to an agreement that the FDLR/Interahamwe, the root cause of insecurity in the region, is a cancer that should be tackled head-on.
They have also agreed that bilateral cooperation is the only sure way to resolve long-standing issues that have bedevilled the two countries.
They are even contemplating reopening embassies in their respective capitals in the near future. For some people this cannot be good news.
Thirdly, some powerful nations see the report as a means of paying back because, apparently, Rwanda “has touched them where it hurts”.
For them, dismantling the FDLR/Interahamwe and a successful Rwanda, at peace with itself and the neighbours, is anathema. Cynics say that some countries are busy manufacturing some crude implements to slow down Rwanda’s progress and return us to the dark days. For them, our success would only serve as a bad precedent!
To conclude, let me reiterate what I have said before. A peaceful and prosperous DRC is in the best interest of Rwanda. The recent UN Group of Experts Report on the Democratic Republic of the Congo does not serve to advance that cause. On the contrary, it takes us back many years.
Our brothers and sisters in the DRC have suffered long enough. The international community should take appropriate action and create a conducive environment to help alleviate that suffering.
They have the might and the power; they lack the will. And if they needed any reminding, reports with a hidden agenda will not do. We long for the day when our two countries enjoy good neighbourly relations; when our people can cross our borders, as they should, to visit and to do business in safety and mutual respect. I hope that day will come sooner than later.