opinionBy Theogene Rudasingwa
The recent conference on the M23 rebellion in DR Congo achieved little. With increasing international disinterest in the crisis, Africa must unite to end this conflict.
So the International Conference on the Great Lakes (ICGLR) summit in Kampala is over, boycotted by the principal culprit in the tragedy, President Paul Kagame of Rwanda, and presided over by President Museveni of Uganda.
Though it had been widely publicised that twelve heads of state would attend the summit, only President Mwai Kibaki of Kenya and President Jakaya Kikwete of Tanzania showed up.
It has been established, credibly and compellingly by the UN Group of Experts Report, that Rwanda and Uganda are behind the so-called M23 rebellion in DRC.
It is self-evident that the international community is not interested in the plight of Congolese people. The summit was notable in the absence of other Africans and African institutions.
The absence of concerned Africans and institutions was compounded by the much expected absence of the rest of the international community.
The so-called International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR), whose establishment Rwanda opposed until Kagame was comforted that it would be an ineffectual body, is a largely ignored body.
Unless he can manipulate it and bend it to his wishes, Kagame has no respect for it. Like Kagame, Museveni knows that ICGLR is a toothless tool to be brandished to attract the attention of the western powers and international community on the one hand, while keeping some concerned Africans and international community from acting in response to the endless crises in the Great lakes region on the other.
"Leave it to us, we shall handle it ourselves", Museveni tells Americans and Europeans who are not about to shed their blood to defend Africans dying in DRC.
When asked by concerned constituencies as to what is being done about the bleeding of DRC and Rwanda, western powers will say, "O, we support Africans solving their own problems through regional bodies like ICGLR". This is a coded way of saying, " If Africans are butchering themselves, let them put their house in order".
President Kagame, the most notorious culprit in the DRC saga, decided to snub his peers in the region, and did not show up. That is his typical arrogance and disdain towards other Africans and sections of the international community that increasingly look at him as a villain who presides over a rogue state.
What did the summit hope to achieve without the offending party in the conflict? Could we assume that he knew so well that President Museveni, with whom he has a history of adventure in DRC, would take care of their mutual interests? Nothing of substance came out of the summit. The whole diplomatic circus was a public relations gimmick to mislead African and international opinion.
It is indeed ridiculous that the summit decided that "one company of an international neutral force, one company of the Congolese army (FARDC) and one company of M23" would be deployed in Goma.
Essentially, two companies (neutral force + Congolese army) and one company of enemy forces (M23+ Rwanda+ Uganda) would be dancing together in Goma! Where over 20, 000 UN peacekeepers with an annual budget of over $1.5 billion have failed, how will the two penniless companies succeed?
The most outrageous outcome of the summit is the futile provision that Rwandan and Ugandan generals are to oversee, supervise and lead the cessation of hostilities and the peace process in DRC.
General Kabarebe ( Minister of Defence, Rwanda), General Kayonga (Chief of Defence Forces, Rwanda) and other Rwandan senior officers have been identified by the UN Group of Experts Report as the architects and operational leaders of the M23 war-making effort.
Uganda's military officers, notably General Salim Saleh ( President Museveni's young brother), General Kale Kayihura (Uganda's Chief of Police) and other Ugandan officers have been mentioned by the same UN Report.
If the international community is interested in ending the conflict, there should be robust sanctions against these individuals and their commanders-in-chief. Museveni and Kagame sat and decided that they would supervise and lead the sham process. The lions have decided they will baby-sit the lambs.
The Congolese people should set aside their differences and unite to reject this latest Kagame aggression against the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Africans and the rest of the international community should unite in support of their Congolese and Rwandan brothers and sisters to get rid of the brutal regime of President Kagame that has brought so much death and destruction to Congolese and Rwandan people.
Africans must mobilise and organise, not agonise.
We shall win!
- Dr. Theogene Rudasingwa is the coordinator of Rwanda National Congress (RNC), and a coordinator of Rwanda's largest political opposition platform with FDU-Inkingi. He has previously served as the Secretary General of Rwanda's ruling party, the Rwandese Patriotic Front (RPF), Ambassador of Rwanda to the United States, and President Paul Kagame's Director of Cabinet (Chief of Staff)