Amani Itakuya #16: Leadership Renewal for a Sustainable Peace in Eastern Congo

Leadership Renewal for a Sustainable Peace in Eastern Congo   

Robert Falay


If I was asked, as a Congolese, to point out the cause of the ongoing instability in eastern Congo, my answer would be without hesitation the lack of strong, competent and visionary leadership. For decades the Congolese government has been totally absent from its most fundamental duty, which is to ensure people and property safety within the borders.

Without undermining other undisputed roots of the Congolese crisis such as the brutal legacy of colonialism, Mobutu’s dictatorship, the international community’s failure to respond adequately to the fallout from the Rwandan genocide, illicit control over rich mineral resources, corruption, etc. many scholars, practitioners, analysts, advocates as well as Congolese citizens are of the opinion that the leadership deficit has been the most serious stumbling block for a sustainable peace and security in the eastern Congo.

Consider the numerous efforts that have been made towards peace: the US government decision to suspend military aid to Rwanda for backing M23, the 11+4 peace accord sponsored by African Union, the US Dodd-Frank Act for transparency in mineral trade, UN Security Council resolutions modifying the UN peacekeeping mission mandate, US Senate hearings on Congo, Kampala talks between the Congolese government and M23, Congolese Security Sector Reform Plans supported by the European Union, the International Criminal Court’s prosecutions against Congolese warlords, latest political talks in Kinshasa.

Why has none of these efforts improved safety in eastern Congo? Why do people continue to face the unspeakable, massive killing, displacement, sexual violence, hunger, and lack of access to basic needs? The answer lies in the leadership deficit.

While the forgoing efforts are not inherently improper, they become fruitless when built in collaboration with an incompetent and unethical leadership. Any plan for a strong Congolese army for instance, cannot be successful when applied through a government, which encourages corruption and impunity. The same is true with electoral system reform when those in charge of organising the elections are not ready to play fair.

The renewal of Congolese leadership based in competence, ethics, meritocracy and vision should be the first step of any peacebuilding efforts in Congo. Obviously, such analysis raises the question of how to get to a successful change of leadership. The answer could be found in the Congolese youth inside and outside the borders who need to be empowered and organised in a strong movement able of conducting a peaceful revolution. And the Congolese advocacy in America and other western countries such as Canada, France, and England can play a key role in achieving that goal.

The ultimate solutions to Congo’s problems though, including the lack of peace in the east, are in the hands of Congolese themselves who desperately need an independent and honest leadership capable of uniting the nation through reconciliation and leading the country to democracy and good governance.


Robert Falay is a Congolese lawyer and human rights activist working on justice for victims of human rights abuses in DRC.

3 Responses to “Amani Itakuya #16: Leadership Renewal for a Sustainable Peace in Eastern Congo”
  1. ethuin says:

    Thanks Gracia for your frequent and interesting comments. Would you also like to make a contribution? Let me know, thanks.

  2. graciak says:

    I share the view and the analysis concerning the lack of visionary leadership and its consequences on the country situation. However, when is true that our leaders are incompetent, corrupt … we should also as citizen take our part of responsibility in the fiasco.
    I quite share the opinion of Ory Okolloh (a Kenyan activist) when she says that “leaders are reflection of one society.” What’s about our society generating leaders that we don’t like? And how can we do to change that?
    She said and I so agree with her: accountability stems from demand!
    We need to start being inquisitive about the action of our leaders. Hold them accountable, ask questions, track their performance…
    How to do that in a country ravaged by rampant nepotism and clientelism, without functioning institutions?
    I think we should revive civic education
    We can also take inspiration from outside. Kenya for example with Mzalendo project, it is a website referencing the profile of Kenyan MPs, their questions to parliament …. It is a tool to hold accountable MPs, track their actions, ….
    I know this is probably not an universal cure but we have to find ways to start acting as real citizen and not just passive observer in our own country.

  3. Anand Upadhyaya says:

    This article is concise and to the point. You have to have a solid foundation for peace and progress or the structure will collapse. I’d love to hear more thoughts on how to improve the leadership issue.

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