President Joseph Kabila of the Democratic Republic of Congo last week called on world leaders, specifically the United Nations, to help his government disarm foreign armed groups operating from his territory. The Great Lakes region is suffering from the effects of rebels operating from the DRC’s vast forest cover.
They surface and commit untold havoc not only against the people under governments they are purportedly fighting against, but also the local Congolese population, raping, pillaging and killing; and then disappear back into the darkness and safety of the thick forests.
The most prominent of these groups are the FDLR which was given arms and other logistics by the Congolese government years ago to destabilise the Kigali establishment (according to FDLR’s leader Ignace Murwanashyaka), and is composed of former soldiers of the Habyarimana regime and other killers who fled their 1994 Genocide actions; and the Lord’s Resistance Army, led by Joseph Kony, which is fighting the Ugandan government.
It is not that the government of the DRC cannot defeat these rebel outfits and chase them out of their country. It is just that the politics involved is too convoluted for even the United Nations to unravel, let alone take decisive measures to correct. It is all too obvious that their efforts can only be baulked by the DRC itself if they seriously applied themselves to the job they are being invited to perform.
Hasn’t President Paul Kagame and even other regional leaders, offered troops to smash the backs of these rebels? So what else is new in the Congolese leader’s appeal to the UN for help? There is Monuc that is on the ground and, under its leadership, a big force can be mobilized to rout the bandits.
President Kabila should not merely apply lip service to the very real problems affecting not only his people but the region as a whole. Actually, his is such a huge chunk of territory that it takes long for him to really feel the effects of rebel activity. But regions like Rwanda which have a small surface area quickly feel the actions of such bandits, and even retrogress in the programme of uniting its people.
Everyone welcomes Kabila’s determination to expel rebels from his land.
However, his dilemma is more political than military.