Amani Itakuya #13: How can peace be achieved in the Democratic Republic of the Congo?

How can peace be achieved in the Democratic Republic of the Congo?

Richard Kapend

What started as a spill over of the 1994 Rwandan genocide into the neighbouring Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC, then Zaïre) has developed into a complex armed conflict involving many factors and actors; some enforcing one another and some incapacitating the others. Based on the ongoing nature of this conflict, which has seen its onset since the mid-1990s, it can be said that so far, factors feeding the conflict have succeeded to the detriment of those designed or aimed at ending it.

What is the problem?

In natural science it is proven that, to find a good remedy one should seek to look up symptoms and list natural cures and treatments based on specific risk factors and prevalence. Looking at problems in the Great Lakes region especially the aforementioned armed conflict, it can be submitted that the lack of trust between the governments of Rwanda and the DRC has been and remain a constant factor around which a complex of many other variables feeding the conflict evolve. The lack of trust between Rwanda and DRC perpetuates armed conflicts in the DRC since early 1995. This can be seen by the fact that the Rwandan regime has been uncomfortable with the presence, near its border with the DRC, of armed men who fled Rwanda in the mid-1990s and are accused of being responsible for the 1994 genocide; these armed men are also known as FDLR. The Rwandan unease with the presence of FDLR has been there at the onset of the armed conflict; it has been there throughout the late part of the 1990s and most of the 2000s and it is present to these days, in the early 2010s. The only time the presence of FDLR in east-DRC has been less of a burning issue in the relation between the regime in Kigali and Kinshasa is when the two countries worked together against it. This has been the case in 1996-1997 with AFDL; during most part of the 2000s during the RCD reign in eastern DRC and more recently, through the “Kimia II” and “Umoja Wetu” joint military operations led by FARDC and RDF. It is worth noting that these joint operations were heavily criticised within the humanitarian community for their lack of respect for basic human rights in operational areas. [1]

What is the solution?

Based on what has been said above, it can be assumed that the regime in Kigali may have legitimate interests in eastern DRC and these interests may be linked primarily to security and the economy. Given that the aforementioned interests are real and genuine, it can therefore be suggested that the regime in Rwanda voices its concerns in a transparent and honest way, using official channels and if possible seek the mediation of international actors.

By using official channels it is meant stop using armed groups such as RCD, CNDP, M23 etc. to do its bidding in DRC. Some may argue that these armed groups have nothing to do with Rwanda and that the proliferation of armed groups in the DRC is rather the result of bad governance. Answers to such arguments can be found in various reports from the UN Group of Experts [2], MONUSCO and many other corroborating reports from well-known human rights organisations [3] and respectable media outlets [4], to name but a few. Beside this, one can make a correlation between the final destination of armed group’s leaders including, Jules Mutebusi, Laurent Nkunda, Bosco Ntaganda, Boudouin Ngaruye, Jean-Marie Runiga etc. –  they all end up on Rwandan territory once they run into trouble inside DRC. With regards to bad governance, one can say, the DRC has nine neighbouring countries, how comes only one border out of nine is the source of the armed conflicts which have been ongoing since mid-1990s? There again one can see a correlation.

To sum up, a viable solution to end the armed conflict in eastern DRC is to urge regimes in Kigali, Kinshasa and even Kampala to utilise the Peace, Security and Cooperation Framework agreement for the DRC and the region [5], to put in place a transparent agenda aimed at accommodating genuine interests through legitimate channels. In the same way, it can be said that due to the fact that after almost 16 years, various armed operations with more robust and lethal mandates have failed to completely neutralise the FDLR, why not try an alternative approach through a political settlement as it is considered for the DRC government and the M23 rebel group?

Glossing over these factors with hypocritical diplomatic circumventions will only prolong the suffering of millions in the region and further undermine prospects for peace and development. 


Richard Kapend is a researcher focussing on criminology and the demographics of armed conflict.

One Response to “Amani Itakuya #13: How can peace be achieved in the Democratic Republic of the Congo?”
  1. dominique says:

    As conditioning its “Prosperity” since 20 years, Rwanda “has to” maintain the Conflict in East DRC … by his own “Rebels” as M23, but preferably for them as by any others sourced “Rebels”/plaunderers, they can anyway finance by the monopoly they got back from USA/ (US de facto embargo + ITSCI Tags of 400 fake rwandan Mines) to launder as having become “Conflict-Free” because rwandan, the East DRC coltan, they too can buy at cheap miserable price, because the “de facto US embargo”. Please email me if you want I proove you this ITCSI Tags system is done for that = Rwanda “has to” maintain to become eternal the “Conflict” in East RDC = USA wants to keep the control of international market of Coltan : to whom it goes, at what price, for what quantities … and for how long.

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