Can Kam­pala and Ki­gali pacify the restive DRC?

Ugan­dan and Rwan­dan armies have fought proxy wars and de­posed gov­ern­ments

The East African - - NEWS - The Eastafrican

A JOINT RE­PORT

Rwanda and Uganda have pledged to help the Demo­cratic Repub­lic of Congo (DRC) find so­lu­tions to the wors­en­ing con­flict and sex­ual vi­o­lence in the eastern part, with Pres­i­dents Paul Kagame and Yow­eri Mu­sev­eni blam­ing the United Na­tions for fail­ing to pacify the coun­try.

After last Sun­day’s visit to En­tebbe by Pres­i­dent Kagame to re­solve grow­ing ten­sions be­tween Ki­gali and Kam­pala, the Rwan­dan leader, who is also the chair­man of the African Union, said they would work to­gether to find a so­lu­tion for the sit­u­a­tion in DRC.

The two lead­ers have in the past two decades been ac­cused of be­ing part of the prob­lem in con­flict-rid­dled DRC, with their armies ven­tur­ing into the min­eral-rich coun­try to fight proxy wars and de­pose gov­ern­ments.

Pres­i­dent Kagame termed the grow­ing vi­o­lence in eastern DRC as alarm­ing.

“DRC is of a big con­cern for ev­ery­one, start­ing with the neigh­bours — par­tic­u­larly Uganda, which has al­ready had spillover from that sit­u­a­tion, with hun­dreds and thou­sands of refugees,” he said.

The Rwan­dan leader also said that some of the prob­lems in DRC have ex­isted for a long time, which is why a UN peace­keep­ing force has been present in DRC for a cou­ple of decades now.

“What we are see­ing to­day is not an end to those prob­lems but rather more prob­lems com­ing up. Defi- nitely th­ese are mat­ters of con­cern to neigh­bours, the re­gion and to the wider in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity,”

Both Heads of State blamed the UN for not do­ing much to sta­bilise the sit­u­a­tion in DR Congo for more than two decades.

“We are try­ing to see what to do. Maybe we should be mov­ing faster or do­ing more, first, as a re­gion,” Pres­i­dent Kagame said, adding a ques­tion: “Can we do some­thing as a re­gion that would be rel­e­vant to ad­dress the prob­lems in DRC as we know them?”

He said the Great Lakes Re­gion in­tends to do some­thing about the sit­u­a­tion in DRC be­cause the UN which has been present on the ground for many years has not pro­duced any re­sults.

“We are al­ready talk­ing, in fact it was part of the dis­cus­sion we had with Pres­i­dent Mu­sev­eni. We need to work with the UN to tell us be­yond what they have been do­ing for many years that has not pro­duced good re­sults, what else do they in­tend to do or what can we do to­gether to make sure Congo is sta­bilised?” he said.

The Rwan­dan leader said that the dis­place­ment of peo­ple in big num­bers, which has af­fected the se­cu­rity of neigh­bours, and the suf­fer­ing of Con­golese peo­ple cre­ates a sense of ur­gency in find­ing a so­lu­tion to con­flict.

On his part Pres­i­dent Mu­sev­eni re­it­er­ated the need for the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity to find a so­lu­tion to the sit­u­a­tion in Eastern DRC.

“The big­gest con­cern right now is refugees. We are re­ceiv­ing wor­ry­ing num­bers of Con­golese refugees. They are com­ing in big num­bers, which calls for ac­tion. The in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity has the re­spon­si­bil­ity to find a so­lu­tion to this prob­lem,” Pres­i­dent Mu­sev­eni.

The Ugan­dan leader also said that the in­flux of Con­golese refugees comes along­side more thou­sands of refugees flee­ing from South Su­dan into Uganda.

“The UN has been that prob­lem for a long time, since the death of Pa­trice Lu­mumba in 1960. The UN has been in Congo, al­most con­tin­u­ously, for 58 years now,” Pres­i­dent Mu­sev­eni said, adding that for that long, it has failed to sta­bilise DRC.

The grow­ing lev­els of eth­nic and sex­ual vi­o­lence in eastern DRC have be­come a mat­ter of con­cern for hu­man­i­tar­ian groups, with more than 13 mil­lion peo­ple re­quir­ing aid and mil­lions more dis­placed.

Over 100 deaths have been reg­is­tered since Fe­bru­ary mainly in eth­nic clashes in North Kivu Prov­ince. The po­lit­i­cal un­cer­tainty in the coun­try, fol­low­ing Pres­i­dent Joseph Ka­bila’s de­ci­sion to stay put since 2016 is partly blamed for grow­ing lev­els of vi­o­lence.

The vast min­eral rich coun­try is ex­pected to go to polls on De­cem­ber 23, this year but it is not yet clear whether em­bat­tled Pres­i­dent Ka­bila will seek re-elec­tion amid pres­sure from the Catholic Church and op­po­si­tion groups urg­ing him to step aside.

The UN which has been present on the ground for many years has not pro­duced any re­sults.” Pres­i­dent Paul Kagame

Pic­ture: AFP

Uganda’s Pres­i­dent Yow­eri Mu­sev­eni and Rwanda’s Paul Kagame at State House in En­tebbbe on March 25.

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