Thursday, 2 August 2012

Rwanda : Is There Any Alternative To Eastern Congo’s Conflict?

m Is there any alternative to Eastern Congo’s conflict Rwanda : Is there any alternative to Eastern Congo’s conflict?
While the Congolese government has vowed not to negotiate with the M23 rebels, analysts say only talks can end the violent uprising in the country’s east. For their part, the M23 say they are ready to come to the table anytime, but have also threatened to head straight to Kinshasa, DR Congo’s Capital. 
Conflict in the mineral-rich region in Eastern Congo has caused thousands of deaths and up to 420,000 people have abandoned their homes. Rwanda alone, has received some 20,000 Congolese – and the number is rising daily. Despite the different reports from the UN, aid agencies and rights groups, the problem still stands.
Apart from mentioning how difficult the situation is for the Congolese people especially those in the war-torn areas, what are the tangible solutions to end this war? Are there suggestions and recommendations under way such as more troops – sufficient enough to end the conflict and restore peace in war torn Eastern DRC?
M23 rebel spokesperson, Lt Colonel Jean Mary Vianney Kazarama, said that continued provocation from DRC government soldiers – while the government remains unwilling to negotiate, will only make matters worse.
“We are Congolese. We have a cause and we will fight the government until they stop provocation and become willing to negotiate,” Kazarama said.
Is “taking over Kinshasa” an ambitious fantasy? 
In a spate of a few days, the previously unknown group which Kinshasa calls “bandits”, have expanded their control over large areas. They are said to be a few kilometers from Goma, the capital of North Kivu.
Many now view M23 as well organised, and arguably one reason why fingers have been pointed at Rwanda as supporting the rebel group. It may sound ambitious hearing that M23 would fight and take over bigger towns – later alone Kinshasa, but the rebels are confident they can.
“If our demands are not respected we continue fighting – why not to takeover Goma, Kananga or Kinshasa?,” Kazarama said.
The M23 spokesperson is keen to reaffirm what pushed them to take up arms; “We want the 2009 agreement to be respected. That is ensuring of democracy. Sixty thousand of our family members are refugees in neighboring countries and need to come back home, we want the issue of military ranks and salaries to be addressed as well.”
Analysts say dialogue would work
Routine followers of the DRC conflict since 1998 say peace talks will end the war. Dr Omar Kharfan, a political science don at the National University of Rwanda explains the situation using two theories, which he says can resolve the conflict. There is the “zero-sum game” and “non-zero-sum game”.
The first describes a situation in which a participant’s gain (or loss) of utility is exactly balanced by the losses (or gains) of the utility of the other participant. Here one side is eager to defeat the other and take over.
The “non-zero-sum” is where the two parties choose to sit at the table where they share the gains and losses. It describes a situation in which the interacting parties weigh whether the gains and losses are either less or more than zero. It is this approach that Dr Kharfan believes brings more gains.
“Suppose that the Congolese government finds allies who aid it in defeating the M23 rebels. That will never end the crisis. But if both sides sit down and discuss, for sure they can reach an agreement which can lead to the final solution,” said Kharfan.
Is the foreign policy ineffective?
In the recent African Heads of State’s summit held in Addis-Ababa, the AU decided to establish a neutral force in Eastern DRC, with a mission of eliminating all the negative forces in the region including M23 Rebels.
However, the question remains, how effective have been the UN forces in DRC or MONUSCO? Is the “stabilization force”, in the DRC since 1999, yielding anything?  The Brussels-based International Crisis Group (ICG) has accused the mission as most ineffective UN peace keeping unit.
Will the AU’s mission be different? At least 52 countries, 26 from Africa have for years contributed to the MONUSCO’s personnel. Meanwhile, history tells us that a lack of commitment by foreign forces towards providing security and protection to different countries, come crisis. Examples are not too far; Rwanda during the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi, Somalia, Sudan and now DRC.
Militiamen have rampaged on innocent civilians, raped women and girls, burnt villagers – while detachments of MONUSCO are just a few kilometers away. MONUSCO’s mandate authorizes them to use force of arms to prevent massacres and protect civilians.
The figures
The total number of MONUSCO’s uniformed personnel on ground, in the DRC is 22,016, according to their webpage. Some 19,144 are armed military personnel, as 715 are military observers. There are 1,375 police (including formed units), as well as 954 international civilian personnel. The force has 2,876 local civilian staff and 612 United Nations Volunteers.
Maintaining such a large presence does not come cheap in terms of salaries, allowances, equipment, medical cover, and so on. Between July 01, 2011 – June 30, 2012, MONUSCON budget was $1,489,390,500. This is more than Rwanda’s 2012-13 budget.
But, has the spending resolved even a small bit of the conflict? Critics have cast doubt that Congo’s woos are not about to end tomorrow, not even with sending more peacekeepers and arms.


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