In the spirit of “African Solutions for African Problems” as always advocated by President Kagame, the intervention process announced by the Chairman of the East African Community, President Uhuru Kenyatta for Eastern DRC is welcome. However, for it to succeed, it should be complimented by three key approaches.
Since the military approach of forceful disarmament cannot succeed alone, DR Congo Government and the army must be ready to offer full and sincere cooperation.
First and foremost, the they should be ready to cut any links with FDLR. Second, there should be a political process in place, with clearly elaborated road map, with emphasis on returning Kinyarwanda speaking Congolese to their land and full restoration of their rights as bonafide citizens. Third, the international community must consciously participate at every level to offer necessary support to all the spectrums of the intervention. All this should be hinged on the understanding of the genesis of the Congo conflict, not addressing symptoms which has been the convenient approach for two decades.
When the UN intervention brigade was approved by the security Council on 28 March 2013, the world hoped that this was the final nail in the coffin of all armed groups that had blighted Congo’s North and South Kivu Provinces. However, 15 years later, the armed groups in the region have multiplied instead of being annihilated as had been anticipated. This is because the UN intervention brigade made the cardinal mistake of basing on sentiments and other interests instead of professional ethics to deal with the issue as stipulated in their mandate.
The UN intervention brigade concentrated their firepower on M23 and ceased activity when they thought they had defeated them. The intervention brigade was never to be heard of after that, at a time the region waited to hear them direct the same firepower against FDLR, an armed group of genocidaires that is considered to be the center of gravity for the insecurity in Eastern Congo and the region. This left no doubt that the resolve to fight ‘all armed groups’ disturbing peace in Congo was a mere slogan, and the real target was M23, which served specific interests. The EAC force must avoid that mistake if they are to succeed.
Most importantly, the DR Congo Government must be willing to receive help if the remedy envisaged by President Uhuru Kenyatta and his regional counterparts is to be realized. Congo must accept that they have a problem and also accept to take responsibility for the prevailing situation.
It would be futile help a country that won’t be able to point out where they want things fixed. They must see regional neighbours and EAC counterparts as well intentioned players who wish to see DRC partake in regional economic growth.
Last but not least, the DRC army should desist from deliberate and baseless accusations against neighbours because they are not helpful. The Congo leadership should also avoid divisionism and hate speech targeting the Congolese Tutsi community, which is the very reason Congo is experiencing turmoil which has lasted for decades.