Understanding the Conflict in Eastern Congo

Congolese army
Congoles soldiers on the march in eastern DR Congo

The neutral force for the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has to be cognizant of the history of the country and north Kivu in particular. It has to be guided by Pan Africanist principles.

The interlacustrine region and Africa in general is undergoing transformation within the global dynamics. African countries decolonized and South Africa remained in the clutches of imperially supported Apartheid system. The Apartheid system persisted mainly because of the cold war. The Apartheid system worked as a stooge to counter Soviet influence in Africa.

When the cold war ended, the Apartheid system got dismantled because of changing dynamics. Africa now is one entity under the African Union (AU). But the countries making it up have been growing and developing at different paces because of leadership depending on who took over from the colonial leadership. Some countries were lucky to have visionary leaders and in the process experienced relative calm.

Others were in the hands of outright reactionaries which warranted armed struggle which was termed second liberation. This second liberation phenomenon was possible because of the cold war.

Depending on who was at the helm in such and such a country, the relevant bloc east or west gave material and moral support. The success of the second liberation largely depended on internal organization and ideological outlook. Those who did it purely by adventurist methods died a natural death. Those who did it with proper revolutionary methods of work succeeded.

The DRC now which was Zaire under Mobutu was unlucky to have the type of leadership typically reactionary. The republic of Tanzania is now a coherent nation state because of the visionary leadership of the late Mwalimu Julius Nyerere. That he once stated if there were shortcomings on his part, but he succeeded in fostering the unity of Tanzanians.

The late Mwalimu created a popular system of defense. He saw strength in the popular masses rather than a clique of soldiers for individual protection.

That foresight eluded Mobutu and colleagues. Indeed they worked as typical stooges of imperial world bordering on the Apartheid system because his government supported Savimbi. Savimbi was used as a destabilizing factor in Angola as a de facto tool of the imperial world working alongside the Apartheid South Africa.

DRC is a sub continent with poor transport infrastructure, impenetrable jungles and so on which renders the population intermingling rather hard. The regions that make it up would have rather developed independently. When Singapore encountered impediments within the Malaysian federal system, she disengaged. The results speak for themselves given the socio-economic development of Singapore.

Given the necessity of African macro entity and the global village the world has become, balkanizing DRC is not recommendable. However, a federal system hence strong regional entities with strong defense systems within the DRC federation is a viable alternative to end what has become intractable regional conflicts.

Nothing happens without a cause. No people (entity) take up arms for the sake of it. The causes are the ones to be distinguished for; some may take up arms for selfish reasons while others do it in pursuit of their rights that get usurped.

Those wielding weapons in the DRC need distinguishing given the history of DRC hence the saga of north Kivu which has sent the world raging with scrutiny.

The U.S issued a warning statement to its citizens intending to travel to DRC on August 2, 2012. The warning indicates that there are armed groups. Those armed groups, bandits and elements of the Congolese military remain security concerns in Eastern and north eastern DRC.

That they are in north Kivu, south Kivu, northern Katanga and eastern part of Maniema. That the conflict emanating from armed groups both Congolese and from outside in north Kivu, and Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) in south north Kivu and the entire south Kivu has resurged, indicates those who go there are at high risk.

This site goes a head to show that travelers get detained and asked by security personnel with low discipline at formal and informal road blocs and at all border posts.

That bribe gets often asked by the security agents who at times kill or injure those who do not give it out. That last year a number of Americans got incarcerated illegally by the Congolese army and that what is happening has roots in the history of DRC hence north Kivu. Those with insight attribute the demise of Mobutu in 1997 to both internal and international factors much as there is a relationship between ethnicity and political rivalry.

It is contended Mobutu set ethnicities against one another to ward off a strong united opposition. In the book, “Ethnic conflict and international politics: explaining diffusion and escalation“, the relationship between those living in Rwanda, Burundi and DRC goes beyond colonialism though the movements of people here and there got documented during Belgian colonialism.

That for the Belgian colonial administration to have left Barundi and Rwandans to migrate to DRC was simply natural.

In 1935, Belgians are said to have let Rwandans to DRC now and settle in unsettled land which engendered Rwandese communities to dominate in some parts of north Kivu for a century. M23 was born out of mistreatment including that some of them who got transferred to other regions and got killed. What had been agreed upon while they were in National Congress for the Defense of the People (CNDP) was not fulfilled.

The dramatic turn around and dismantling of the good relations that had existed between DRC and the government of Rwanda which had dealt a blow to FDLR remains a mystery to many. M23 are Congolese whose rights get usurped because in part they speak Kinyarwanda. In the history of Kivu it is known. What is happening has roots in the DRC history and Kivus in particular.

These are the young men mainly who were born and found such problems there which got exacerbated by those who committed Genocide in Rwanda and fled there with a genocidal ideology. FDLR and those who fight against Burundi government, FNL PALPEHUTU, are the foreign armed groups that are the epicenter of troubles in that region.

There are armed groups commonly called “MAI MAI”. These groups are known by lack of ideological outlook. They simply oppose any one who speak Kinyarwanda whether Congolese or not. The neutral force has to be informed into the history of that region. Whoever is for peace should not be rebuffed. The international community should not base on MONUSCO report which seems to thwart attention from the real problem because they have failed to deliver.

Obama is both the descendant of immigrants and an American citizen who rose to become president. He and the majority of Americans are descended from immigrants and are considered no less American. The DRC exists in a world that has become a village.

The Congolese of Rwandan descent have equal rights as any other citizen of the DRC. In resolving the conflict in Kivu this has to be born in mind. Knowing the history of the area is the primary weapon to resolve conflicts therein definitively hence the neutral force has to be cognizant of that.