FOR a long time, I've been avoiding writing on the state of current affairs between DRC and Rwanda. I decided to leave it to the experts, whose political and economic analyses were mushrooming every second. Also, I thought to myself, there are other relevant and positive things happening in Rwanda and the region, which would be unfair to not give mention to.
This seemed to work for awhile, but like a thorn in one's side, the escalating conflict in the DRC has grabbed the attention of my pen. And also of the conspiracy theorist (I prefer critical thinker) that l aspire to be. First of all, it is a weary explanation; reflective of misinformation, lack of research and plain ignorance - that Rwanda is wholly responsible for the internal issues of the DRC. There are many examples of this; all it takes is for one to patiently examine the seemingly coordinated moves by international organisations and rights groups, which shift blame on Rwanda for the national issues of the DRC.
I give massive credit to Rwandan leaders who do not tire of repeating themselves, in the face of preposterous and disingenuous accusations that blame Rwanda for fuelling conflict in its neighbour.
But, what really piques one's curiosity is how the relationship between both countries often falls prey to external forces. One minute, relations between both countries are positive and for the first time in years, a sense of optimism and cooperation is in the air.
The re-opening of Embassies between both countries in 2010 was for the first time in ages, a symbol of desire for mutual development between Rwanda and the DRC. Just earlier this year, bilateral talks were underway, and ordinary citizens welcomed these developments.
An end to the renewed conflict in Eastern DRC seemed more of a reality, and perhaps in the long-run, major efforts would be directed at ending for once and for all - the presence of destabilising agents such as the FDLR, the Mai Mai or any other rag-tag militia operating in the country. An utopian ideal, some may say - but this was just the beginning. For the first time, both countries actively OWNED the processes of stability in the region.
Really, to the layperson, devoid of political knowledge or finesse, these relations were as refreshing as they were reassuring. Then, seemingly from nowhere, emerged deliberately "leaked" reports, shocking accusations, misinformation by international organisations - all painting Rwanda as hell-bent on creating havoc in the DRC by allegedly supporting the M23 mutineers. As if Rwanda is not directly affected by this conflict.
To those whose profit margins are compromised, to those whose NGO status is undermined - peace in the DRC is simply not a good look for many who thrive on its instability. And boy was this short-lived peace ended, with Rwanda portrayed once again as the scapegoat. What's more the pity is that the DRC government doesn't see this (or chooses not to), and points a finger at a neighbour whose priority was, and still is, to end the conflict within the DRC and its impact on the region.
At the moment, an agreement has been signed introducing an impartial international force to monitor the border between the two countries, as well as deal with various rebel groups. The question is this time round, will both countries withstand the onslaught of forces aimed at undermining peace between Rwanda and the DRC?