ICC indictments cannot bring peace to Eastern DR Congo
Eastern DRC is boiling again. And like the custom has become, whenever a bulletin is released in any part of Eastern DRC, someone somewhere has to murmur out Rwanda.
I belong to the school of thought who subscribe to the fact that Congo’s problems are as old as the history of this vast nation – specifically linked to colonial mess left behind by the Belgians and the weaknesses of the subsequent regimes.
Therefore, Rwanda is used as a mere smokescreen behind a web of complex historical and political problems that have characterized this nation since time immemorial.
However, what Rwanda as a state can be blamed, is adding to this historical mess by ‘exporting’ the genocidal militia into this vast nation. I say Rwanda as a ‘State” because the Interahamwe militia who fled into DRC after the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi are Rwandans linked to the previous genocidal regime.
These extremist forces re-branded FDLR are the sole cause of all the troubles we see today inside DRC. And unless we have serious prescription for these fellows, Eastern DRC will never see peace.
Unfortunately, the international community which is supposed to play an important role in finding a solution to this crisis is already showing signs of fatigue and the mention of Eastern DRC simply falls on deaf ears.
MONUSCO has swallowed billions of dollars but the results on the ground do not tally with the resources spent so far.
Therefore, this lukewarm approach on the part of international community leaves Rwanda, the country with the greatest security threat from DRC, to work against all odds in trying to keep its borders safe but also render a hand in finding peace for this troubled region.
And Rwanda has demonstrated this will – the desire to have a peaceful Kivu through a number of ways.
First, in 2002 when Rwanda pulled its troops out of the DRC, the understanding then was that the international community would help deal decisively with the menace created by the FDLR. This did not happen and FDLR kept on regrouping and re-arming.
Ironically, 10 years later is when a criminal like Sylvester Mudacumura, a man who has clearly passed his selling date is indicted.
Secondly, Rwanda has been very patient and often fallen to unconventional means to try and weaken the FDLR. For example using its intelligence network, Rwanda has succeeded in penetrating the FDRL ranks and lured some top commanders of this group to defect.
The good number that has crossed over have been received like kings, re-integrated into the army and given senior positions. This philosophy has produced results with many combatants continuing to return, something that has dealt a big blow to the FDLR.
But again, many more continue to be trapped by extremist commanders who have killed many trying to escape.
Thirdly, for the sake of peace, Rwanda has gone an extra mile and taken certain strategic decisions that might not necessarily be popular in the eyes of some sections of the Congolese population but certainly whose sole aim is to bring peace to the Kivus. The arrest of Laurent Nkunda should be seen in this same spirit.
All these endeavors point to one thing – that Rwanda is not interested in wars anymore. A peaceful and secure Eastern DRC means a lot in terms of mutual economic progress and investment opportunities, which is Rwanda’s pre-occupation today.
Unfortunately, the drums of war have failed to fall silent, which begs the question once again; why has the international community failed to solve this problem of the FDLR? There have been dozens and dozens of promises. There has been a lot of talk and rhetoric but with hardly any concrete measures of ending the conflict in the Kivus.
And yet the formula to peace is not rocket science – Root out the FDLR and the Eastern DRC will regain its dignity. It does not need a combined force of NATO to bring peace. The solution lies in what operation Umoja Wetu would produce.
But this joint operation would need a few blessings. First is an endorsed mandate from the family of nations for a sustainable joint campaign stretching for a certain period of time but with significant logistical support.
Second would be cutting off the supply chain of weapons flowing to FDLR and getting Kinshasa to deal with some of its commanders still in bed with this rag tag outfit. Third would be dealing decisively with the external collaborators of this group, some of whom enjoy freedoms in the capitals of western powers and others continue to act as FDLR’s middlemen in trading stolen minerals.
Bottom line, peace in the Kivus equals uprooting FDLR! The ICC indictments only come to worsen an already fragile situation.
Contact email: akaeus[at]yahoo.com