OPINIONS THAT MATTER: Kambale Musavuli on Congo

This is going to be a long post coming from a place of love and urgency needed for our people on the ground. Lots of calls were made to folks on the ground and policy makers here in the USA. We are very clear that change will come from the inside so it is really important for us outside to create space and opportunity for change in the Congo. We can do so through small social justice actions.

I respect and thank everyone who has engaged in building schools and hospitals, providing support for orphans, developing micro-credit projects for women in rural areas in the Congo, and so on… It is so much needed and the Congolese people thank you…

What Dr King did was to take people in the streets to demand better social condition of African peoples in America.

But now, here is the problem and the real harsh truth… There is no amount of humanitarian aid in the Congo that will end the conflict. The conflict is a political problem and has as its core issue the continuous interference of Congo’s neighbors, namely Rwanda and Uganda into Congolese affairs. I usually tell people that Dr King did not build a hospital. What Dr King did was to take people in the streets to demand better social condition of African peoples in America. That’s what I call social justice work… and that’s the support Congo needs. We need support for social justice groups transforming the Congo… as I have said many times… CONGO DOES NOT NEED CHARITY… CONGO NEEDS JUSTICE!What will an hospital do when rebels come to your town and displace everyone? Think! Act! and Support Social Justice in the Congo!

It has been hard for me to share more because my family is in that area. When we received information that people near Kanyabayonga were displaced, all I could think about is why is this continuing to happen? I do have an answer so I will try to share a few thoughts with you.

What is happening right now in the Congo with the so-called new rebel movement called M23 is what has been happening in the Congo since 1996. The model is clear: neighboring countries create rebel forces and have few Congolese as the face of the movement while they arm and finance this group. Every time this has worked because the media has lacked the capacity of critical analysis of what is happening.

Here is a timeline for you.

 

1. October 6, 1996: Rwanda and Uganda officially entered the Congo. At the time, the reason given was that the governor of South Kivu made a statement on the radio to kill Congolese Tutsi community in South Kivu. This has yet been corroborated. Given the international community did not buy into this narrative, on October 18, 1996, a rebel group was created called AFDL which had a few Congolese as the face of the movement while being backed by Rwandan and Ugandan forces set out to topple the regime of Mobutu and in the process massacred hundreds of thousands of Congolese and Rwandan hutu refugees from the 1994 genocide, according to the Roberto Garreton’s report.

This rebel movement succeeded in removing Mobutu and installing Laurent Kabila as the president. Rwanda at the time placed one of his nationals, James Kabarebe, as the Congolese army chief of staff and tried to pass him as a Congolese. This did not sit well with the forces in power in 1997 and created serious friction. After a failed coup d’etat by Rwandan forces who were not ok with the way Laurent Kabila ran the country, Kabila decided to send back all the Rwandans and Ugandans back to their countries. This brings us to point 2.

2. On August 2, 1998: Rwanda and Uganda invaded the Congo again after being asked to return to their country. They did the same thing again. They started a rebel groups called RCD on the part of Rwanda and MLC was backed by Uganda. Of course behind these rebellions were Rwandans and Ugandan soldiers while they usually had a Congolese face to it. This rebellion was so fierce that it brought in almost 11 countries into the Congo divided in two: those who were in support of Rwanda/Uganda and those who were in support of Congolese government. Laurent Kabila was assassinated in 2001 and his so-called “son” became the president of the Congo that year. The rebellion came to a stalemate and the country was almost divided in two.

 

What’s interesting though is that even the two allies Rwanda and Uganda fought each other on Congolese soil over a diamond mine in Kisangani and thousands of Congolese died, thousands more were wounded. Due to international pressure, Rwanda and Uganda were pressured to stop their battle in the Congo. Timothy Reid says in his paper “Killing them softly” that George Bush threatened the two countries to stop their incursions in the Congo or he will get the World Bank to stop funding their countries. This , among other things, worked and the peace accord was signed in South Africa with the rebels and the government of Kinshasa. The rebels were integrated into the Congolese army and a hope for stability became something people could actually see.

3. In 2004: the hope for peace and stability was lost when former RCD rebels integrated in the Congolese army decided to splinter and start a rebellion led by Mutebusi and Laurent Nkunda.

From May to June, RCD rebels killed, raped women as young as three year-old and families in public in Bukavu. After the imminent threat to attack Rwanda, Mutebutsi fled to Rwanda and lodged in a military camp at Ntendeza. Kinshasa accused the colonel’s hosts of sponsoring the rebellion and moved 10,000 troops to the border. Mutebusi has been hiding in Rwanda as a “Congolese Refugee” and according to Wikileaks, the former political affairs attache at the embassy in Kinshasa and current Vice President of Freeport McMoran said in a memo that there were indication Mutebesi was getting food as a Congolese refugee through the World Food Program (http://www.wikileaks.ch/cable/2004/11/04KINSHASA2107.html) You probably don’t know who Mutebusi is, because his name hasn’t been up but he has been hiding in Rwanda since after Gatamba massacre.

4: In 2006: former rebel from RCD and supporter of Mutebesi, Laurent Nkunda, started once again a new rebel group called CNDP with the help of Bosco Ntaganda who pretty much replaced Mutebusi.

In 2008, the UN published a report implicating Rwanda in supporting CNDP rebels by providing them with money, child soldiers, military support. Due to that report, which was published right during Obama’s transition team after his election as president, Sweden and Netherlands responded diplomatically by cutting off aid to Rwanda. Rwanda responded by sending James Kaberebe in Kin to meet with Kabila and announce a military operation to go after the FDLR (http://congofriends.blogspot.com/2009_01_01_archive.html we actually wrote about this back then).

The operation called Umoja Wetu was created to integrate CNDP soldiers and Rwandan soldiers into the Congolese army.

The Rwandan soldiers came in without the consent of the Congolese government, but more so the invitation of the Congolese president. This is the issue that the president of the Congolese parliament Vital Kamerhe was actually kicked out of the parliament for, as he denounced it publicly that a deal was being made with Rwanda without consultation of the government.

So… the CNDP rebels were integrated with foreign soldiers in the [Congolese] army, military operations supported by UN (Monusco) were launched to go after the FDLR rebels namely Operation Umoja Wetu, Kymia 1 and 2, Amani Leo.. yet it still failed at dismantling FDLR but somehow more than a thousand Congolese died due to this military action. Nkunda during that time was put on “house arrest” in Rwanda when Rwanda of course said before that arrest they had no connection with him, and that he was a Congolese problem. Bosco Ntangana became the commander of the CNDP, though integrated into the Congolese army, they ran a parallel chain of command.

5. This brings us to now… March of 2012… Thomas Lubanga is convicted at the ICC and the Congolese government is asked to turn in Bosco Ntaganda who was integrated in the Congolese army.

The president of the Congo consults with Paul Kagame and during that communication, Bosco Ntaganda is told about the imminent action to arrest him. He decides to hide in his farm. What is strange is that he was surrounded in his farm and somehow he got away through the Virunga park. Speaking to contacts, they believe he was let go. The Congolese army was able to get some ammunition from the farm and in other areas. Bosco is believe to be hiding in the Virunga Park and some of his loyal soldiers have started a new rebel movement called M23 stating that they want once more to protect the Tutsi community in that area.

6. I must insist every time I speak that Bosco Ntaganda is not Congolese. I have not seen documents of when he applied for Congolese citizenship. He was born in Kiningi, Rwanda, was a fighter in the Rwandan Patriotic Front army that toppled the Rwandan government after the Rwandan genocide of 1994, and he then came into Congo as an RCD rebel with Nkunda both being former officers in the Rwandan Defence Force. Don’t believe me on this, just check the unsealed arrest warrant for Bosco.

 the game is still working… create rebel groups, arm them, keep the area destabilize so you can continue to blackmail the west for military support

Again, the media is just eating that up as usual… no critical analysis whatsoever So the game is still working… create rebel groups, arm them, keep the area destabilize so you can continue to blackmail the west for military support, and best story is keep the same rebels of yesterday but just get a new fancy acronym.

Militarization is not the answer

So, will you search on wikipedia who is Makinga and M23 or will you ask yourself why is it the former Congolese army Chief of Staff and today the current Rwandan Defense Minister James Kabarebe meeting with the Congolese minister of defense to discuss a “political solution” on a rebel wanted by the ICC, who displaced just in less than a month 10,000 people, who has killed thousands more in Ituri, Kiwanda, and many other places, who continue to enlist children in his rebel movement (according to Human Rights Watch, 149 just this past month)… and yet nothing happens? Why is CNDP so important to Rwanda that they must get both their minister of defense and the army chief of staff to come to the Congo for talks? Also why is the solution to this crisis to go after the FDLR in yet another joint military operations with Rwanda and Congo?

It is simple… AFDL, RCD, CNDP, and now M23 are the same rebels in a sense. They are proxies of Rwanda and you can see that by the response of the Rwandan government. Congolese are tired of these wars… we know who supports the regime in Kigali. The political will is lacking to end the conflict… and we as people of this world can stop it… we did it before… we ended Apartheid. So we can end this conflict if we really understand how the game is played.

They say “you can fool some people sometimes but you can’t fool people all the time…” Are you buying into this nonsense being told to us by the media, Rwandan and Congolese government?

We at Friends of the Congo maintain that the conflict in the Congo is a war waged by US allies Rwanda and Uganda who invaded the Congo twice, in 1996 and 1998, and continue to support proxy rebels in the Congo looting the resources, raping the women, killing the people. Militarization is not the answer. Robust political solutions are needed to address the myriad crises in Central Africa which will require an Inter-Rwandan dialogue, a repatriation of FDLR fighters into their country, political space for Rwandans, accountability for the Kagame regime… and same is true in Uganda as well. The strengthening of Congolese institutions is needed. The Congolese people need justice and reconciliation not thousands of Rwandan troops back in their country once more to go after the FDLR which they choose strategically not to catch, yet they found the roads to the mines very easily.

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Kambale Musavuli on Al Jazeera’s News Hour – May 18, 2012 – Bosco Ntaganda

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Kambale Musavuli  is a human rights activist, Student Coordinator and National Spokesperson for the Friends of the Congo. He has written for the Washington Post, Pambazuka News and numerous other other academic, news and online publications. He has been interviewed on National Public Radio, Democracy Now, ABC News, Al Jazeera English Television, Radio France International and numerous radio and television programs.

For contact: email: kambale@friendsofthecongo.org

Twitter: @kambale and @congofriends

YouTube: Kambaletv

Websites: http://kambale.com/ , http://www.congoweek.org/ , http://congojustice.org/ , http://www.ingeta.com/

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2 comments

  1. Amy-Lee · · Reply

    Powerful post, I’m going to be a loud voice this is a terrible thing and needs to end

  2. Thank you for commenting. Let’s continue to break the silence

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