“…you have five forces working day in and day out to keep the Congolese people in bondage. It reminds me of South Africa. The government of the Congo does not represent the people and when you see what the Congolese have to face with these five tentacles (local Congolese elites, Rwanda/Uganda, UK/US, World Bank/IMF and multinationals). There has to be a global movement against these five forces to give the Congolese a fighting chance to transform their nation.”
In a long interview with journalist Jennifer Fierberg, Congolese activist and member of Friends of the Congo, Kambale Musavuli explains the situation in his country. He provides his understanding of Obama’s ineffective foreign policy towards DRC. He highlights the underlying stumbling blocs which maintain the status quo. In the past, African solidarity has helped preserve Congolese territorial integrity. KM thinks it can do more. I have selected and share here KM’s few reflections taken from his roadmap to Congolese peace.
In 1986, while a senator, US president Obama got a law on DRC voted which bears his name. The Obama Law, Public Law 109-456, if enacted upon by the US administration, as it recommends, that could be a strong foundation towards peace in the Congo. Kambale explains why that law is not being implemented.
“I do not know why he [Obama] is not enforcing it but can only assume that people who worked in the Clinton administration during the Rwandan genocide and the Congo wars have made every effort that some of the things from the past have not and will not resurface now. Obama seems to have his hands tied by people who run foreign policy in the Pentagon and in the State Department. Hillary Clinton has the power to enforce a particular section of the law yet the State Department is not enforcing it and the National Security Council appears to not have the information on the existence of this law. We had a meeting where we asked the director for Africa at the National Security Council Grant Harris why Obama is not enforcing the law. He responded as if he did not know anything about the law. There may be other interests we do not know.”
Challenges that Congolese people have to overcome to get to peace evolve around five significant obstacles. Kambale highlights them.
“… the Congolese people are caught between the elites fighting to keep him [Kabila] in power and working against the local people along with Rwanda, Uganda and multinational corporations that are looting the resources of the Congo with lack of accountability and total impunity for crimes they are committing. We have foreign governments, the US and UK, dramatically backing these corporations and governments without holding them accountable. Then there are the multi-lateral institutions such as the World back/ IMF who have written the mining and forestry laws of the Congo and also finance the Congo National budget. Therefore, you have five forces working day in and day out to keep the Congolese people in bondage. It reminds me of South Africa. The government of the Congo does not represent the people and when you see what the Congolese have to face with these five tentacles (local Congolese elites, Rwanda/Uganda, UK/US, World Bank/IMF and multinationals). There has to be a global movement against these five forces to give the Congolese a fighting chance to transform their nation.”
For the last quarter of century, Museveni of Uganda and Kagame of Rwanda have been the critical causes of overall insecurity in the Africa Great Lakes region. They have been so far benefiting from impunity, and continue to be unaccountable to their citizens. Kambale explains related facts.
“The kingpins of the region are Museveni of Uganda and Kagame of Rwanda. If these two leaders are tried at the ICC or a special court set up, I guarantee you that there would be a serious impact in the region and there would be peace in the region. Arresting Bosco Ntaganda is a step in the right direction but it is not enough. His enablers must be stopped too.
Over 200,000 Congolese have been displaced in the last three months. Reports of serious human rights violations in the region have surfaced. The UN is monitoring the situation and there will be another MONUSCO report on the situation on the ground coming out soon. I believe Ntaganda should be held accountable for the crimes he is responsible of. But if his backers, Kagame and Museveni, are arrested and tried for war crimes and crimes against humanity that would send a very strong signal that the International Community is now serious about ending the culture of impunity that is rampant in that region.”
On Rwandan internal problems, here is what Kambale says. DRC seems to have been at the receiving end each time.
“We need peace in the Congo but anytime there is a problem in Rwanda there is then a problem in the Congo. We saw this in the 60’s when the Hutu took power, Tutsi fled to the Congo and surrounding countries then again in the 90’s when the Tutsi took power and the Hutu fled to Congo. We need a new solution to this ongoing problem. If we want peace in the Congo we need a genuine Inter-Rwandan dialogue. There needs to be a national sovereign conference in Rwanda as the Congo and other countries have done. These talks need to take into account the history of Rwanda and the region. We also need to find out who shot down Habyarimana’s plane because that has caused chaos for everyone in the region. We need to hold the perpetrators of this crime accountable. There cannot be peace without justice.”
Africans need to realise that without peace in DRC, there is insecurity in a significant fraction of the continent. Working together for Congolese peace is imperative for African prosperity. Kambale elaborates on this issue.
“Africans should hold aggressors of Congo accountable. The security problems in the Congo do not have roots in the Congo. Let’s be frank, the FDLR is not a Congolese problem, the CNDP is not a Congolese problem. Rwanda has the capacity of making peace or war in the region. René Lemarchand delves into Rwanda’s warring and peacemaking capacity in his paper “Reflections on the Crisis in Eastern Congo.”
So stability in the Congo relies on peace in Rwanda and Uganda. If Rwanda and Uganda had peace and democracy and opened up political space along with a genuine inter-Rwandan and inter-Ugandan dialogue that would bring peace to the region. We have seen time and time again, in this case Rwanda, supporting rebels in the Congo. Africans need to be putting pressure on the nations of Rwanda and Uganda to become partners for peace in the region of the Great Lakes. Africans did that before; the Second Congo war of 1998 to 2002 was actually stopped by African nations from SADC that came to help the Congo. They said “we can’t let Rwanda do this” so that was an African solution to an African problem.
We need for these nations now to do the same thing. Why do we have western nations cutting aid to Rwanda but we have not seen African nations holding Rwanda accountable. There needs to be pressure on Rwanda to stop supplying weapons to these rebels and become partner for peace. There is no military solution to the crisis in the Congo. African countries from ICGLR are calling for a military “neutral” force to come to the Congo which is not what the Congolese civil society hope to see. It is not in the interest of Africa for the Congo to be destabilized. If Congo were to be a stabilized country, the Congo River could supply electricity to the whole African Continent. Our land can feed the entire African continent. Our resources can rebuild the African Continent. Don’t let proxy nations like Uganda and Rwanda take away the future of Africa. Hold them accountable.”
To read the whole interview, please go to Salem-News