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Congo crisis: DRC-Rwanda’s cold war hurts Kabila

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By Robert Mugabe


Democratic Republic of Congo’s President Joseph Kabila Kabange in the past two months met with Rwanda’s Paul Kagame in Addis Ababa on the sidelines of the July African Union, and they agreed to handle the crisis diplomatically through a heads of state meeting in Kampala in August.

The idea of a neutral force to monitor and keep the peace in eastern DRC was first mooted in Addis Ababa, according to International Conference on Great Lakes Region (ICGLR).

By agreeing to the neutral force, Kabila acknowledged that he did not have total control of the eastern part of the country, thus it alone could not guarantee the security of the region.

The August 18 SADC statement raising the prospect of sending a force which will be consisting Rwanda, essentially put DRC in the same category as Burundi in its troubled years when South Africa sent a peacekeeping force to Burundi, according to defense and governance experts.

The blame game continued after the Addis Ababa meeting which ended in a handshake, and in Rwanda leaders were getting increasingly irritated. Louise Mushikiwabo, Rwanda’s Foreign affairs Minister said in an interview that Congolese officials are like children who cry a lot.

In addition, the authoritative voice of President Kabila remained in the background all these weeks, suggesting his bargaining hand was weak.

In the interview with Belgian journalist Colette Braeckman, Gen Kabarebe alleged that a Congolese intelligence chief found him in a hotel room and asked for forgiveness for fabricating lies about Rwanda’s backing M23 rebels in order to cover Kinshasa’s weaknesses.

Kabarebe alleges that President Kabila was put under pressure by the international community to arrest Gen Bosco Ntaganda, the M23 leader, who is wanted by the International Criminal Court

He said while the international community was demanding the arrest of Ntaganda, part of the Monusco force of 20,000 with tanks, helicopters, and Special Forces were located in Goma, next to Ntaganda. The UN and M23 officers, he said, and thereafter, they had to play tennis together, and they   frequented the same amongst the same clubs, the same bars and restaurants.

‘‘Why couldn’t they take charge of Ntanganda’s arrest, why would they ask us to do it? We made it clear that the arrest was not our responsibility, as it was a Congolese officer, very close to President Kabila, with whom they had done business with together,” Kabarebe reiterated.

Kabarebe also said that the Congolese army allows free passage for the rebels Kinshasa blames  Kigali for supporting, and that Monusco is inept, and in bed with insurgents: “Monusco has been in Congo for more than 10 years, and it has not solved anything. It does business with the FDLR, conducts trade in gold, coltan,” he added.

He portrayed the DRC state army as a shambolic force that cannot fight in the existing conditions in which they are. They could not even kill a rat…”

For DRC government, to fight Rwanda which seems to have a lot of information Kinshasa, is seriously hurting President Kabila’s image thus portraying him as a weak leader.

Kabila’s propaganda machine championed by information Minister Mende, has lost of words at UN HQs when Mushikiwabo accused the head of experts for being working in favor of FDLR.

After outlining what Rwanda had done to help stabilise eastern DRC, Mushikiwabo then threw everything, including the plate in the eyes of Steven Hege, who headed the UN Group of Experts on DRC that started all the diplomatic fires

Mushikiwabo accuses Hege of failing to allow Rwanda give its side of the story, and that when he and his team visited Kigali, he avoided mentioning anything about Rwanda’s involvement in eastern DRC, the subject that was to form the mainstay of his report.

“Hege regards the Rwandan government as illegitimate foreigners — Ugandan Tutsi elite is his phrase — in language eerily familiar to survivors and students of the genocide,” she said

In what was apparently an awkward moment for the UN, the Rwanda foreign minister asked how a man who had advised that the FDLR should only come to the negotiating table once “international opinion sours on the Rwandan regime” should have been allowed to lead a Group of Experts that had achieved exactly that.

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