vendredi 24 août 2012

Democratic Republic of Congo: Ten key points to understand the war in North Kivu*

(From Goma) Since April, the rebel M23 boosted the cycle of war in the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo. The last one ended there only four years. Dead and displaced have now even hundreds. Today is a new personality conflict but also a political and economic war.
Why a new war in the east of the DRC?

         The official release of this new war is the formation of a rebel group, the M23. An armed force that conducts fighting in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo since April.
         This movement consists mainly of Congolese Tutsi backed by Rwanda as an official report of the UN. These Congolese Tutsis claiming they get under the presidency of Mobutu in 1972. Despite this, some remain attached to their ethnic origin and does not really equate the country.

The claims of M23.

         Since 2009, the National Congress for the Defence of the People (CNDP) armed group became a political party, an ally of the presidential majority. They work together in the search for peace in the face of uncertainty that still exists in the east.
         On 23 March 2009, the CNDP and Joseph Kabila, President-elect since 2006, signed agreements in Goma. The Head of State is committed to integrating the rebels into the regular army, to recognize their rank and integrate the CNDP in the government. After the reappointment of Kabila last November, the CNDP denounces non-compliance with agreements made.
         This new political party comes then M23 (March 23 movement), an armed faction that wants to see commitments with Joseph Kabila met. This is the beginning of a new war in the DRC. Ironically, in 2009, the CNDP was incorporated into the regular army.
         M23's first claim is compliance with agreements of 23 March. Other applications came then add:
  the return of Tutsi refugees who are in Rwanda and Tanzania, for example;
  protection of the Tutsi people against the FDLR (Hutu armed group that threatens the Tutsis).
         Part of the population fears that the rebels want the annexation of Kivu and some surrounding areas. Their objective would be that Tutsis have a land of their own. A sort of "Tutsiland."
         Two weeks ago, the clarification of conditions governing the election of Joseph Kabila, who is suspected of having won the election by fraud, has complemented the long list.

The predicament of Joseph Kabila.

         During moulting CNDP armed group into a political party, Joseph Kabila is close to Bosco Ntaganda, an influential figure in the movement. But since July 13, 2012, the International Criminal Court (ICC) filed a second arrest warrant against the former general and newly re-elected president's support.
         Joseph Kabila is thus torn between the international pressure that weighs against Bosco Ntaganda and the difficulty to abandon his ally. This explains the policy that leads blurred vis-à-vis the M23 since April.
         Yet, in the face of international pressure, loose Joseph Kabila ally and demand his arrest that he was "tried in the DRC."
         Without supporting the war the armed group, it does not officially said the fight against the rebellion.
International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR), which exists since 2000, has been reopened following this new war.
         As president, many expected a strong stance taken against the rebels. Kabila is now in a difficult situation. He can not deny the M23 which was widely supported in the elections but can not justify their rebellion given the atrocities carried out.

Rwanda's role in this war.

         According to a UN report, the M23 is supported primarily by the Government of Rwanda and Uganda minor degree. A large part of members of the M23 are Congolese of Rwandan origin. Kigali shows solidarity with them. But it is not only ethnic sympathy that Rwanda supports the rebellion. Kigali has a strong interest in maintaining security situation in the eastern Congo.
         Apart from the satisfaction of seeing destabilized the DRC, Rwanda sees its economic interests. Instability at the border facilitates trafficking including those minerals such as cassiterite. It is rare and necessary in the manufacture of mobile phones. The war also facilitates the passage of all kinds of goods such as livestock.

Where fighting is taking place?

Kivu area of ​​wealth.

         The unstable region affected by the war in the Congo is the Kivu region integrated into the Great Lakes region. This area is on the border with Rwanda, Burundi, Uganda and Tanzania.
         The fighting took place mainly in North Kivu, a land very important economic issues. It has large mineral resources including gold, cassiterite and oil. This region is also rich in naturally occurring methane gas in Lake Kivu. Agricultural wealth of this fertile land are also coveted.
Openly, the M23 is not seeking economic issues in the region.

Positions of the M23.

         Currently, the M23 is based Kibumba, 25 km north of Goma. Presence near the capital of North Kivu worries. If Goma fell, the administration of the region is officially in the hands of the rebels. It would be a new phase in the war against the M23 would have all the cards in hand to "balkanize" the Congo as feared national opinion.
         Nevertheless, they hold this position for more than three weeks, while little or nothing would prevent them from walking on Goma. Many residents and observers argue that the rebels are already in the city. They have installed their families more reason not to create a bloody conflict in Goma.

What are rampant armed groups in eastern DRC?

         Many "negative forces", as called Kinshasa rampant in eastern DRC in addition to the M23. They participate directly or indirectly in fighting economic and political stake in the DRC. Difficult to make an exhaustive list. There are formal groups that have claims and there are around a nebula of bandits who enjoy and participate in the instability looting and killing.
         Among the groups clearly presented there the Mayi-Mayi who counts himself several factions within it. Initially, they are indigenous fighting to defend their land. But in a rule of law that has an army official, Kinshasa can not accept such a force.
         These groups are also retains the Democratic Liberation Forces of Rwanda (FDLR), the Rwandan Hutu rebels based in eastern Congo since 1994. Today, they are regularly responsible for atrocities in the DRC mainly.
         These armed groups according to the UN and NGOs do not hesitate to maim, to kill, rape and enlisting children and young people in their gangs.

Who benefits from this war?

The regular army: the FARDC.

         The eastern DRC is an area where access is difficult. The roads are almost non-existent, cut through areas of dense forest. Groups of the regular army are set in cities, villages and rural areas. These are very accessible, they become masters of their territory.
         The army officers enjoy while agricultural and mineral wealth, set up taxes, rights of way. The justification of the presence of soldiers in different countries: protecting people rebellions. Unless they get richer on the backs of people and have no interest in the war stops.
Some observers even argue that part of the army would be in the hands of Tutsis. Figures: over thirty nine generals are Congolese Tutsis.


         Policies also have their interest. Detached from the central government, the regional leaders agree with the army, raise their taxes too, receive percentages resources on their territory. In the event of termination of the war, this kind of behavior would not be possible.
Kinshasa today places her voice hardly in Eastern Kivu. Since the beginning of the war Joseph Kabila has not made such Goma. A strong sign of abandonment by some.

Non-governmental organizations.

         NGOs have been established for many years in Goma and more broadly to the east. Their presence is sometimes questioned by local people. According to them, it is not in the interest of MONUSCO and other organizations that the war continues. A return to calm mean the end of missions.

Multinational companies.

         Most affected economically in the global war are without doubt the multinationals.
         The documentary "Blood in the Mobile", denounces the vicious circle in which large firms are involved. Director Frank Piasecki Poulsen, became interested in the case of Nokia, which has major interests in cassiterite mines in Walikale. He could not find concrete evidence of the involvement of the international firm, however, heavy suspicion on it.
        Companies usually benefit from instability to buy minerals at low prices. Minerals they use in manufacturing their phones for example. Of profits, observers assume that part is reinvested in the arms to support the instability in the region.

What is doing the international community?

         The international community is currently very silent. It will soon be twenty years ... The only concrete actions are sending humanitarian (Doctors Without Borders, Red Cross, Handicap International ...) in the early years of conflict in eastern Congo.
         Goma has become a nest of humanitarian organizations and may be the second largest employer in the city after the state. However, their action concretely verifiable on the ground seems limited. Refugee camp on the outskirts of Kanyarushinya near Goma have benefited in two weeks that a distribution of biscuits.
         The international community is also present with MONUSCO military: 17,000 well-armed peacekeepers are present in the zone. However, their mandate limited to a defensive role.

What is the status of forces?

         The balance of forces, either side of the regular army FARDC or the rebels of the M23, is difficult to assess. The army does not want to communicate about it. Military secret.
         From what we can see, the FARDC does not seem strong position. The state has not paid its soldiers for several months.
According to humanitarian missions, there would be many abuses by the FARDC in combat zones, including the looting that can be linked to poverty.
         In Goma, the eighth regiment before, every day, women soldiers come to claim the balance of their husbands. The soldiers are little or poorly equipped. The army in the east, is not a professional army experienced but it is composed of many young men came to the prestige of the uniform. Command of the units is not always held by competent men, it is simple to buy his grade.
         The side of the M23, it is not much easier to make an accurate assessment of the strike force. However, the rebels backed by Rwanda and Burundi according to UN reports. Jean-Louis Ernest Kyaviro, spokesman for the governor of North Kivu, said that vehicles, weapons and men pass the border regularly to increase the strength of the M23.

Population, first victim.

         This war has mainly affect civilians. Most visible are the dead which obviously we do today has no balance. Thomas Aquinas Mwiti, responsible civil society Kivu, announces the estimated 350,000 displaced since the beginning of the conflict. Nothing in the camp Kanyarushinya, authorities identify 13,600 refugees.
         These displacements are not without consequences. The refugees live in very difficult conditions. A Kanyarushinya, they do not have access to safe drinking water and sanitation are particularly uncomfortable, 28 latrines for the entire camp.
         The war also affects the local economy. The food prices increased sharply especially as Rutshuru, agricultural region, provides more grain because of the fighting on the territory and the departure of farmers. Prices rise because of the lack of taxation but also the different products by the army and the authorities in transit. The people of the east are also affected by mass unemployment. These various elements exacerbate global poverty populations.

A neutral international force, to do what?

         After Kampala, the International Committee of the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR) met in Goma to decide the terms of the creation of a neutral international force.
         The idea is to create a new military force to support peacekeepers to quell the rebellion of the M23 and to eliminate all negative forces throughout the territory.
         After three days of negotiations between experts, military leaders and ministers, he decided that a force of 4,000 men will be created to stabilize the border in eastern DRC. To ensure its neutrality, it was decided that it would not involve Congolese soldiers, Rwanda, Uganda and Burundi.
         So which countries send men? Other states in the Great Lakes region or the Congo - Brazzaville, Angola, Kenya, Sudan, Central African Republic, Tanzania and Zambia.
         Ntuba Lwaba, Executive Secretary of the ICGLR, recalls that the door is open to all who wish to help the Congo.

Two months for the force is on the ground.

         This force should be funded by the UN and the African Union. The ICGLR was given one month to this force is on the ground. Experts have prepared a document for quick action, urgent and effective cessation of hostilities announced Ntuba Lwaba. Within very optimistic, given the logistics of creating such an army. A neutral international force which makes a more skeptical.
         Several demonstrations took place in front of the hotel Ihusi, where the summit was held to demand the extension of the mandate of MONUSCO rather than sending yet another armed force on Congolese territory.
         Youth, women came to remind politicians that the consequences of their decisions affect the population.
         Some observers also criticize the neutral force. The choice of parking including soldiers. Rutshuru, Walikale, Masisi, Blessed are not at the border. While eyes were on Hotel Ihusi Goma, the war continues. On the night of August 15 to 16, "jeep and nine men went to Rutshuru," he says. A war with multiple players and issues.
         Now the end of the instability in a short time in the DRC seems complicated as the implications are great. The beginning of the return of calm will certainly go through a deliberate policy on the part of the Congolese state and the population.
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* Article of the journalist Charlotte Gosset appeared in Rue89, Le Nouvel Observateur, August 22, 2012.

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