The handling by some foreign policy pundit’s of the conflict in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), almost parallels a magician’s mastery of deception through the use of ‘smokes and mirrors’.
Deception that has always obscured efforts meant to find lasting peace through the identification and elimination, of the root cause of the over a decade long crisis in the eastern DRC.
‘Smokes and mirrors’ that have had us believe that conflict is an eternal way of life for the war torn region, with peace and harmony – just being illusions.
Peace becomes the illusion, war the unquestioned reality; the peoples suffering something we can only mitigate with more ‘handouts’. Illusion – for as long as there is mineral wealth, reality – war will continue.
Rapidly changing dynamics caught many off-guard, they now flounder trying to fit in an old script to a scene that has changed completely.
They now speak out of context, moral credibility in tatters; the Rwandan’s and the Congolese have taken their destinies into their hands; rendering the stage manager jobless, he can no longer differentiate reality or illusion for them.
Their plans have been offset by a series of developments; they respond with the irrationality that comes with rapid panic stricken planning, ridiculous positions and assertions have become the order of the day.
The first shock was the arrest in Rwanda of the former leader of the now disbanded, National Congress for the Defence of the People (CNDP), Laurent Nkunda, and the now well advanced process of integrating the former fighters into the Congolese National Army (FARDC).
This was followed by the latest thorn in the flesh, ‘Operation Umoja Wetu.’
The Rwandan and DRC governments’; under ‘Operation Umoja Wetu,’ have crushed myths behind the trickery that has resulted in the continued suffering of the Congolese people.
A treachery whose success depended largely on these two countries not talking, being at each others throat, sustaining the illusion that they are sworn enemies, not only divided by borders, but ethnic rivalry which pre-dates colonialism.
The war becomes a self fulfilling prophesy, that the ‘tribes’ do not have the will power for co-existence, let alone find their own home-grown formula’s for resolving conflicts.
Given the back-ground of the collapse of regional and international diplomatic efforts, aimed at finding a lasting solution to peace and stability; the initiative by the two countries will provide a solid framework, in this regard.
Already it has been further boosted by the unequivocal endorsement made at the, Second Extra-ordinary Summit of the Heads of State and Government of the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region.
War is no longer an option for the regional leaders, as witnessed again by the joint operation made up of Uganda, Sudan, Central African Republic, and DRC against the Lords Resistance Army (LRA).
Rwanda has contended over the years that the main obstacle to peace in the volatile region has been the presence of the genocidal forces, now regrouped under the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR).
A position supported in several agreements and yet there seems to have been little political will to deal with this aspect, placing much responsibility and importance among all the players to make ‘Operation Umoja Wetu,’ succeed.
The only way those who have stood in the way of finding peace to the region can redeem themselves is by making a public acknowledgement of ‘Operation Umoja Wetu’s’ success.
Since its inception almost two weeks ago the operation has made inroads into territory that many had written of as being un-penetrable.
The over glorification of the might of the rebel forces, resulted in a lackadaisical attitude in dealing with these otherwise, now quickly crumbling forces.
In the Congo jungles women and their children many of whom were born in captivity have been rescued, so far five hundred have found their way back to Rwanda.
The new reality brought in by ‘Operation Umoja Wetu,’ changed the Congo landscape completely, that even those who have made frantic efforts to hang on to the past, fight a losing battle.
The monumental failure by the UN ‘peacekeepers’, to bring peace to the region is well documented. Their initial plan to discredit the joint mission hit a brick wall, as the old adage goes if you cannot beat them join them. They are now involved in the re-integration process of the former rebels.
The FDLR are surrendering in their hundreds a fact acknowledged by Congolese President Joseph Kabila, that the armed militias are successfully being disbanded.
“The good news is that since the start of the operation in North Kivu there are now over 1,200 FDLR combatants who are to return to Rwanda.”
This is a new chapter that ushers in a new reality of peace being a real possibility. It has taken the fine leadership of the Congolese and Rwandan governments, to bury the hatchet, and make the right moves.
The wrongs committed in the Congo have gone on for too long, it only takes a resolute leadership to declare, enough is enough, and give the people a much needed reprieve.