2008 in perspective:The Kivu Crisis threatens Regional Stability

For the better part of this year the Kivus has been on the global media spotlight following the clash between the Congolese army and rebels. This clash is thus bound to threaten region stability within the Great Lakes region of Africa. Due to the failure of the attempt to integrate Nkunda’s troops into the army, the crisis has snowballed into a fully fledged rebellion against the Joseph Kabila Government since May 2007.
Gen: Laurent Nkunda,
Gen: Laurent Nkunda,

For the better part of this year the Kivus has been on the global media spotlight following the clash between the Congolese army and rebels.

This clash is thus bound to threaten region stability within the Great Lakes region of Africa. Due to the failure of the attempt to integrate Nkunda’s troops into the army, the crisis has snowballed into a fully fledged rebellion against the Joseph Kabila Government since May 2007.

President Joseph Kabila’s decision to form a coalition with the genocidal FDLR forces to mount a joint offensive against Nkunda’s troops has further complicated the security dynamics of the Great Lakes opening up yet another dark chapter in the history of this region.

As the contest  degenerated into a humanitarian crisis a flurry of diplomatic initiatives went  into full gear sucking in Kigali and a host of other capitals.

A more robust initiative needs to be incorporated within the ongoing UN brokered Olusegun Obasanjo headed peace talks so that  de-escalation of the crisis can commence by addressing the root causes of the conflict in a better fashion.

The writer gives an in-depth analysis of how the Kivu crisis is threatening regional security once more.

An analysis of the conflict
 
Analysts point out to the fact that the new round of the Kivu crisis is attributed to failures of the Congo peace process on army integration, economic governance and transitional and post election justice.

The election of President Joseph Kabila offered a policy of containment and appeasement which led to  cooling off tensions but left their causes unaffected.

Little progress was for instance made on disarmament and reintegration of Mai Mai militias or repatriation of the Rwandan Hutu genocidal rebels, the dreaded Forces Démocratiques pour la Libération du Rwanda (FDLR).

The illegal exploitation of natural resources continued unabated as all communities armed them selves, animated by deep mutual resentments over land security, mass human rights abuses during the war and control of natural resources.

The 2006 national and provincial elections liquidated politically the then rebel group turned political party-RCD, which was a major political stakeholder within the volatile Kivus.

Strengthened by his election, President Kabila held discreet talks with Nkunda and concluded an agreement for the progressive integration of Nkunda’s troops into the regular Congolese armed forces, a process locally known as mixage, with the understanding that they would not have to leave the province until the general security situation improved significantly.

But neither Nkunda nor Kabila was able to contain their hardliners opposed to the settlement. Mixage collapsed in May 2007, leading to new escalation.

To compensate for the Congolese national army’s weakness, Joseph Kabila  co-opted the UN mission (MONUC) into his operations and at the same time formed a coalition with the genocidal  FDLR forces.

The implications became grave. With Kabila joining forces with the genocidal FDLR the delicate security balances which had ushered in the new Congolese dispensation, was in effect shattered.

The entry Angolan and some say Zimbabwean forces into the anti Nkunda formations is a pointer to the fact that the conflict can generate into a full fledged war.

To reverse this tide analysts contend that the onus is on Joseph  Kabila to suspend his military offensive and launch a comprehensive peace initiative for the  Kivus, aimed first at de-escalating the conflict and improving the general security environment in the province, then addressing the core issues related to restoration of state authority such as regulation of the exploitation of natural resources, return of refugees and a transitional justice process facilitating community reconciliation.

A prolonged deadlock would inevitably result in further displacement of civilians and increased risk of ethnic cleansing and revenge killing on both sides.

Ends

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