The New Times (Kigali)

Rwanda: The Dark, Hellish Hand of a Fifth Column

Why does it feel as if M23 was formed long before its precursor, CNDP? It's hard to believe that it came into existence only last April. And it's even harder to believe that it managed to grab the attention of the world so forcefully. In D.R. Congo that's filled to its brim with decades-old rebel groups, its few hundreds of mutineers so easily rocked the world. What's it that stamped it on our conscience with such poignancy and permanence?

Against all expectations, it aroused such strong ire in the UN and the world super powers that they denounced it with unprecedented rapidity. These shakers and shapers of the world who for 18 years seem to never have noticed FDLR found these mutineers to be the worst human rights violators in less than half a year. In comparison, the dreadful FDLR is a kindergarten variety, in the field of atrocities. Yet it's this same outfit that gave DRC the label of "rape capital of the world".

As for M23, look at how the UN quickly churned out a succession of reports on Rwanda that put her on the cross as the villain that mothered this howling monster. Donors shouted cuts and threats of cuts and the Western media went into top gear to spread the message. Uganda, for its 'milder' support, was spared the cuts but given the lip. To Western countries and to UN, the leading role the countries have played in searching for a solution counted for nil - if it was not called a ploy for evil intent.

Then M23 captured Goma. We waited for the looting, child recruitment, raping, arbitrary killings and all the other atrocities that defined the howling monster as we'd been told. But, gladly, we were spared the anguish of a confirmation. Up to this day, when it's supposed to completely withdraw from Goma, the group has been marked by discipline in a land whose lexicon knows no such word.

This should prompt us to start questioning the real motive behind the UN's unending stream of impromptu accusatory reports. We should question the reason behind this cacophony of aid-cut threats by these powers that ganged up together in a way we've never seen before. Mainstream media houses, whose byword is unwavering objectivity, seem to also have come unhinged.

The world powers have admitted that regional leaders have presented a workable roadmap that can address all of DRC's problems. That MONUSCO should, indeed, play the role that these leaders have assigned it. Yet these powers continue to bay for M23's blood, even as it is getting down with the government to work on an all-encompassing, durable resolution. It's talking, not about a solution to its grievances alone but, about a solution to all the ills that have dogged the country since its loss of the only leader that had some kind of vision for it, Patrice Lumumba.

Is a fifth column among these powers at play in this region? I think there is reason to seriously examine a persistent rumour that's doing the rounds of a small section of the media.

The rumour alleges that the recently suspended DRC army chief, Gabriel Amisi, has actually been in a gunrunning racket to arm all the rebels in the country, except M23. These include two terrorist groups that are on the run from Rwanda and Uganda, FDLR and ADF respectively. They've been shoring up their numbers and training intensively, it's said. Amisi was supposed to load them onto the back of the DRC army, FARDC - or vice versa, considering how dysfunctional the latter is! - once they were ready.

The grand plan was for the combined force to quickly clear M23 and then- and then they'd gun for the twin mothers of M23; the spoilers of the show; the Satans incarnate! They who refuse to be minority minions; they who do no accept to turn their eyes when their neighbourhood is on fire. The villains of the region, Rwanda and Uganda, the real target in the cross-hairs of the scheme.

Clearly, the scheme is of a magnitude that's beyond the management capacity of a single Amisi. In fact, it is beyond DRC itself. And that, in some warped logic, explains why its leaders have chosen to cede responsibility of their problems and concentrate on pointing accusing fingers. It may also explain why the government has reneged on the 2009 accord with M23 and repeatedly rejected the call for dialogue. By all appearances, in the war with M23, DRC is a spectator. There is Big Brother and the problems are for him to solve.

And, true to this logic, the moment M23 seized Goma, the UN Security Council was galvanised into action. The chair, France, raised the alarm, with Belgium lending it force, and the exclusive audience nodded. How could MONUSCO allow M23 to cruise into Goma so easily? It must be strengthened and given capacity to overwhelm any force, using an offering of French drones! UN "report-leaks" were out and the master's voice, Western media, went into overdrive.

The villains would now face the fire of the combined force of FARDC, a cocktail of rebels, a strengthened MONUSCO and the whole motley assortment would be given drone cover. Remember the Turquoise fiasco in Rwanda? Oh, sweet revenge!

Then, from the Great Lakes, a roadmap for a solution was put on the table. Could this have been an anticlimax for our super powers? And will it afford us a respite? Whatever the case, a toast to our regional leaders! They've seen it all before.

So, it's interesting to watch the developments. And you thought peacekeeping meant standing between belligerents! Or, as somewhere in 1994, taking to the hills when the killing starts! Or that keeping Al-Qaida at bay and bringing sanity to Sudan and Somalia mattered!

But, meanwhile, I wish these world shakers and movers would remember the groaning grass of DRC. Also, when will DRC leaders wake up to the fact that only they can solve their problems? And that M23 is only one prickly problem out of lots and lots of others.

Indeed, M23 represents the 'long-life', big baggage of DRC's tortured history.

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