Painting by Cheri Samba

Lokuta eyaka na ascenseur, kasi vérité eyei na escalier mpe ekomi. Lies come up in the elevator; the truth takes the stairs but gets here eventually. - Koffi Olomide

Ésthetique eboma vélo. Aesthetics will kill a bicycle. - Felix Wazekwa

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Interview with Bertrand Bisimwa, M23 Spokesperson

Just before the M23 left Goma this morning, I spoke with Bertrand Bisimwa, their spokesperson. This is a transcription and a translation from French.

Can you explain the goals of your movement? You began in April demanding the implementation of the March 23, 2009 agreement, but since then you have put forward demands that go far beyond that.

The M23 is made up of armed groups that signed the March 23 agreement. We started by asking for the implementation of that deal. The government fought us, saying we didn't have the right to demand that. Then we reflected on the situation in the country and saw that many other things had happened since the March 23 agreement, things linked to governance and the legitimacy of Joseph Kabila. We couldn't not integrate these new facts into the demands of our movement. So today, in addition to the March 23 agreement we want good governance in the country and a legitimate government.

Precisely - when you talk about legitimacy and the rigged elections, didn't ex-CNDP soldiers help rig those elections in Masisi?

You have to realize that not all ex-CNDP joined the M23. In fact, most didn't. It was these others, those who didn't join, who helped rig the elections in Kabila's favor in Masisi. But also, cheating didn't start with the elections, it started with the changing of the constitution by Kabila, which allowed him to be elected by a minority of Congolese. It all started there.

In his press conference at the Ihusi Hotel this week, M23 President Runiga put forward a list of demands that include many points that Kabila will be very reluctant to negotiate with you, like dissolving the electoral commission, arresting General John Numbi and the liberation of political prisoners. Did you set the bar too high?

Those were not demands by the M23, but confidence-building measures we wanted to see in order to create a good climate for negotiations. Those negotiations will then focus on the governance of the country, the problems of Congolese society.

Bertrand Bisimwa, http://rutshuru.wordpress.com/


What exactly do you want in those negotiations?

We have a cahier des charges that lists our demands, but it isn't public yet. We want, above all, a vision for the development of the country that includes infrastructures, employment. security in the east of the country, and the return of refugees––from Uganda, Rwanda, and Burundi. We also want to discuss the form of the state, we want a state that is more decentralized that the current constitution states. We will, of course, also need guarantees that Kabila will carry out these reforms.

But won't the reintegration of your troops and cadres be one of the fundamental points of negotiation?

Integration is a measure that will follow once our demands have been answered. We are fighting for these grievances, as soon as we can find an agreement an on these points, we can proceed to figure out how to do reintegration.

You mention that you need guarantees from Kabila. You obviously have very little faith that Kabila will keep his word. What kind of guarantees can he provide?

We can agree on military reintegration and collaboration with the Congolese army without dissolving our troops. One example that I think about a lot is the Ivory Coast. There, the Forces Nouvelles were in a power-sharing government while their troops were still controlling the north of the country. Guillaume Soro was the prime minister while the country was still split. Kinshasa can maintain authority over the East without dissolving our troops.

What about political power-sharing, isn't that one of your demands?

No, it's not that important for us. If we can agree on our demands, as well as calendar for their implementation in time and space, that's enough for us. Many of us don't even want to have positions in government. But there needs to be follow-up, at the end of every month we need to sit together to evaluate the implementation of the deal.

You emphasize that you are a multi-ethnic group. That is true for your political wing, but not for the top military leadership, which is mostly from the Tutsi community. Is that a problem for you, given that many Congolese see you as a Tutsi movement supported by Rwanda?

The Tutsi are emblematic, they are easy to notice. If you, for example, sit down at a table with eight Africans, you will stick out because you are white. The same goes for Tutsi. In our army, Tutsi are in the minority if you look at the whole army. There are many Tutsi in the leadership, but you have to understand that Tutsi have been discriminated against more than other Congolese communities. This has made them react and mobilize more than others. When we constituted our army, we chose officers based on merit, and Tutsi officers were in a good position.

Now you are withdrawing from town in order to negotiate. But what will you do if Kabila does not negotiate?

We are also certain that he won't negotiate. There is no credibility in his promises. Since the RCD, he has been tricking the Congolese people. We are almost sure he won't negotiate - Lambert Mende said so, and he speaks for the government, and General Olenga said it, and he speaks for the army. In the end, the Congolese people will decide, we all share the same suffering. If the Congolese people decide to get rid of Kabila, we can do so. We won't go on the offensive, we will only defend ourselves against the government.

But your military spokesperson Colonel Kazarama said you would go all the way to Bukavu, all the way to Kinshasa. That's not a defensive position.

Kazarama was expressing the will of the Congolese people, not our policy. If Kabila attacks us, we can silence the weapons from where they are being shot, if necessary.

We have seen armed rebellions before in the eastern Congo that have had similar objectives as yours. The AFDL, RCD, CNDP all shares similar ideals - what makes you different from them and how can you avoid their mistakes?

The main difference is that our goal is not integration or power-sharing. We want to solve the problems of the Congolese, that's our goal. The second difference is that we want to negotiate a vision for the country, the RCD didn't have that approach.

I share some our your criticisms of the Congolese government, but disagree with your methods. Don't you think an armed rebellion will just create more resentment within the Congolese population against you?

This is a serious problem for us––but Joseph Kabila doesn't leave us a choice. You know, we had a political-military movement, the CNDP, that wanted to negotiate with Kabila. We were made up of civilians and politicians. But Kabila opposed us with weapons. What choice did he leave us?

Our military have the same problems as our civilians. Most of them have relatives in the refugee camps. So they decide to use the same means Kabila uses to defend themselves. But war is not good. That's why we say that our objective is to finish the war as soon as possible and have negotiations. We have always said that we want negotiations, that's it. We are even willing to make very big concessions––we are leaving Goma, a very big town, that is a big concession for us.

There have been many reports of Rwandan support to the M23. Many of your leaders live in Rwanda. What do you say to this?

You make me laugh a bit when you say many of our leaders live in Rwanda. If a Frenchman lives in Belgium and goes back to France to cause trouble, do you immediately say that Belgium is supporting him? As for Rwandan support, this is propaganda from the Congolese government. Rwanda is an easy target, a much easier one than we are, as they are part of the international community and sit in international institutions.

But I have spoken to many villagers, dozens of former M23 soldiers, all of whom testify to Rwandan involvement.

You know, when a Congolese villager sees a Tutsi, he will say that he saw a Rwandan. This is a perception that has made its way into the Congolese population. As for the deserters, they flee to MONUSCO and then they say they are Rwandan because they are trying to seek protection from the Congolese army. But they are actually Congolese, I know some of these guys. One of them is the brother of [name omitted]. If they were handed over to the Congolese government, they would be arrested, which is why they say they are Rwandan––if they go to Rwanda, nothing happens to them.

We have seen in the past couple of days what appear to be contradictions in your movement. General Makenga said you would withdraw from Goma, then your political leadership said the opposite. What happened?

This is about the content of the ICGLR agreement [to withdraw from Goma]. We thought that only the army was concerned by the retreat, there was no mention of the police or administration. But when we saw that Kinshasa wanted everyone to withdraw, we agreed, so that Kinshasa would not use this as a pretext to start fighting.

There was no contradiction––Makenga spoke for the army, Runiga for the political wing. Now we have agreed to leave. Everyone, the police and the administration.

What about the tensions within the military wing. Ever since Nkunda was arrested, there have been tensions between the pro-Bosco––even if you say he isn't involved today––and the pro-Nkunda officers, the "kimbelembele" and the "kifuafua." Isn't that a problem, expressed for example in the tensions between Makenga, an Nkunda loyalist, and people like General Baudouin Ngaruye, a friend of Bosco?

Look, if our movement didn't have cohesion, we wouldn't be as efficient as we are today. These tensions did exist, but there are part of the past. We have been able to manage these tensions, even though our enemy knows they exist and has tried to manipulate them. We have a positive diversity, that is good for our movement. There are no internal contradictions.

Since you have been here in Goma, there have been many accusations of looting, the stealing of cars in particular. What do you say to this?

There has not been any looting. What happened is that the government in its flight left behind its vehicles, often hiding them in the compounds of private individuals. We needed to get these vehicles, but we set up an investigative commission to evaluate each case. The only thing we asked was to see the ownership documents. If they didn't have these documents, we took the vehicles. There were many cases when people came to us, showed us the documents and we gave them their cars.

Where do you go now?

The politicians are going back to Bunagana. The military will go to Kilimanyoka [just north of Goma]. The military headquarters will be in Kibumba.

104 comments:

Rich said...

This is very strange.

CNDP aka M23 pledged, in 2009, to pursue its grievances only and strictly through political means. See Article 1: De la transformation du CNDP. http://radiookapi.net/files/Accord-CNDP-Gvt-23-mars-2009-pdf.pdf?55c0b5

How come before April 2012 (when they were asked to deploy outside Kivu), cndp aka M23 never ever raised any grievance through political means? To the contrary, they seemed to be enjoying life in bed with the presidential majority and their commanders were happy playing tennis in posh hotels in Goma or enjoying the management of a parallel chain of command within FARDC.

In fact, when you read the March 2009 peace agreement, it is obvious that M23 aka CNDP has failed to honour more than 90% of its engagements.

@Jason

Please Jason of all people, maybe you can tell us, why why in 2009 they agreed to integrate the national army and now they want to copy Ivory Coast model? Is this sticking to March 2009 engagements?

This movement is an excuse of rwandan ambitions in DRC hence the universal condemnation it has attracted thus far.

Rich

Rich said...

The Ivory Coast reference in Bisimwa's claim is very very dangerous and I hope he will have the time to backtrack on that.

Ref #"We can agree on military reintegration and collaboration with the Congolese army without dissolving our troops. One example that I think about a lot is the Ivory Coast."

Following such claim, the international community should now call for M23 to disband immediately because this Bisimwa's claim is a first test for the idea of what many Congolese call "la balkanisation du pays".

If Ivory Coast has a binary divide along its linguo-ethnic reality, in DRC all 400 and plus ethnic groups are minority and such idea is very dangerous and can lead to an unprecedented ethnic backlash that can consume the whole of central Africa.

Rich

Marcel said...

Thank you very much for conducting this interview, Jason. Very well done.

Marcel Stoessel

Kongo in NYC said...

@Jason

Good interview, Mr Stearns. I did notice, however, that you avoided a question about some of the many alleged abuses perpetrated by both M23's troops and, ofcourse, the documented ones by some of its leadership. Please excuse my ignorance but is there a reason why you didn't broach this with Bisimwa?

Also, do you or anyone have any background info on Bisimwa? He's cuts a fascinating figure.

@Rich

I understand and mostly agree with your long-running concerns about "balkanization". Indeed, I have enough family members both here in the US, in Belgium, in South Africa, and in the DRC that fill their fbook pages with long-running complaints about this possibility.

But if this rebellion has proven anything it is that Eastern Congo, for all intents and purposes, is not under the authority of Kinshasa.

We already have dejure balkanization and, if the Congolese do not meet the demands of the M23 the defacto one we all fear could come to pass.

Also, it is plainly obvious to anyone who pays attention that both Kinshasa and what I will just term "eastern elements" have been unable to keep their agreements. For example, nowhere in the agreement does it say "brassage" would eventually be tossed aside for "mixage".

Yet did not Kinshasa decide to go for "mixage"? Eastern elements simply do not trust Kinshasa and, quite frankly, neither does anyone else.

Finally, I think you're misrepresenting Bisimwa's reference to the Ivory Coast.

The rebels strategy in the Ivory Coast was to use its territorial division to force Gbango's government to agree to a more open and transparent election process that was overseen by the UN. They were confident that such an election would ensure their preferred candidate would win AND that Gbango would toss the results. They also knew such an act, given that is was overseen by the UN, would delegitimize his rule and thus force the international community to see the victor-and the rebel army that backed him- as the legitimate authority for the nation.

It worked brilliantly.

It is in this light that one should view Bisimwa's comment on the Ivory Coast. An armed, active, and supremely confident rebel force will force Kabila to abide by the Congolese constitution that calls for reform- particularly around decentralization of power and holding fair local elections- that he has been unwilling to do because it threatens his mafia rule over the country.

It is unfortunate that a foreign-backed rebellion is likely to be the vicar for constitutional and political reform in the Congo. I agree with you, to an extent, that it sets a dangerous precedent in Africa. But unlike many of these rebellions, the M23 has been willing to concede- it is pulling out of Sake and Goma and has not taken additional territory.

I believe now is the time for Congolese patriots to push for a truly binding peace accord that fundamentally transforms our political system.

This IS an opportunity. Let us not waste it if understandable but misguided demands for “territorial integrity” and “ la balkanisation du pays”.


Mel said...

Great interview and, as usual, interesting points from Rich and Kongo in NYC.

Have folks seen the latest from Hege?

This was just posted on the blog of the New York Times:

http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2012/12/01/world/africa/01congo-document.html?smid=tw-share

Fairly definitive proof that Rwanda is not only supporting the rebels but, on quite a few occasions, the RDF violated the Congo's territorial integrity by engaging in joint operations with M23.

I'm not sure what folks over at State need at this point. I mean, what are they waiting for? A full RDF division rolling in on the streets of Goma with CNN's Anderson Cooper reporting from the corner?

I dunno. I just am increasingly getting the feeling that Hil, Rice/others, see the path of reform in the Congo via the M23. If you think about it, it actually is the cheapest means to get it. Yes, I know that's cynical but we are talking about the Clintons here. We are doing it everywhere- particularly Afghanistan. I'm fairly confident there will be more aid suspensions but the real deal is IMF and World Bank support- which has continued with Rwanda.

Buried beneath all the news about the Eastern Congo was this piece by Kavanaugh at Bloomberg.

Congo Seeks IMF Extension
http://www.businessweek.com/news/2012-11-16/congo-seeks-6-month-extension-to-528-million-imf-loan-program

So, clearly Kinshasa is playing fast and loose with coming clean on these shady deals. And its also clear the IMF is beginning to lose patience. The IMF has already suspended the line of credit and it will be interesting to see if it denies this extension. If it does, I believe this will send a signal that the so called "international community" is basically done with Kinshasa.

With this in mind again I wonder if everyone at State is perfectly aware of Rwanda's efforts here and, again, sees the M23 as the cheapest most effective means- a la Soro in Ivory Coast- to force long-standing reform in the Congo.

Perhaps I'm reaching here. Dabbling a bit too much in conspiracy theory.

But, during the election, I did wonder why the US wasn't more forceful in seeking a fairer and more transparent election.

Maybe a rebellion is the only true 'change we can believe in' that is guiding the folks in DC and Kigali.

Mel

Rich said...

Kongo in NYC -

To cut a complex debate short, I would simply say, if we are to brand the Ivory Coast case as a success model then we are in for a potentially rough ride.

To me, the DRC would better continue its painful yet irreversible walk towards true democracy without having to rely on a wobbly crutch that is the M23 et al. I say this because I truly struggle to see what this movement stands for. It has been shifting its claims (March 23 agreement, verite des urnes, John Numbi arrest but not Ntaganda etc...) and sometimes names (ARC/M23) from day one. This reads more like an improvisation just like the other negative forces in the region than anything meaningful.

All in all the M23 is a military tool aimed at serving rwandan interests in the DRC but a politically empty shell that they fill with opportunistic and populist demands to distract Congolese.

Despite its problems the DRC has come a long way and it is not time to go back to formulas imposed by unaccountable actors such as the M23 et al.

Rich

congo man said...

@ Rich
I totally agree with you .
The m23 I just a disguise name for the 3rd RWANDO-UGANDAN invasion of eastern DRC. Unlike in the IVORY COAST where over 40 of northerners supported SORO and his rebel movement, over 99.9% of the Congolese peoples wants this terrorist M23 movement to be militarily confronted and It's leadership including this BISIMWA guy to be arrested and charged with war crimes and crimes against humanity. The demonstrations that rocked the entire Country after the capture of of GOMA by this terrorists is just one example of how unpopular this terrorist movement is among the Congoles people. They can be no nagotion with this people.all they want is to further weaken the Country and It's military with deals that will only lead to more infiltrations of the FARDC and Congolese institutions by RWANDAN spys ,soldiers etc. whose only mission is to sabotage the Country and protect the interests of PAUL KAGAME and his junta, who are again using this invasion not only to plunder Eastern Congo's resources but also to avoid real reconciliation and democracy in RWANDA. This guy is preaching to the Wrong peoples.he shall preach all his evil messages to the peoples of KIGALI where he lives because no congolese person wants to hear his bloody message and those who are trying to spin this as an opportunity ,are just RWANDESES disguising themselves as Congoles. This guy and his boss BOSCO NTAGANDA,JAMES KABAREBE,MAKENGA,JEAN-MARIE RUNIGA....shall all be arrested and charged with war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Kongo in NYC said...

Thanks, Rich.

I'll simply say that I find it particularly concerning that a supporter of our people could so willingly and wantonly support a regime that has humiliated us before the entire world.

You are of-course entitled to your opinion.

In any event, the ball is now in our "Dear Leader's" court- M23 has, as promised, withdrawn from Goma.

Negotiations and a ceasfire come next and, no matter what scenario you fancy, I do not see a situation where Kabila or the Congo's current political dispensation survives.

A revisit of Sun City is approaching.....

Kongo in NYC said...

@ congo man

I feel the need to "unskew" quite a few of your claims.

First, from which poll of our people are you getting your 99% claim? Have you yourself taken a poll of the Congolese? If you furnish one that can back your claim I'd be willing to entertain it but simply making it doesn't make it true- it just makes it your opinion.

Second, the demonstrations you are referencing had, in addition to M23, two other targets. Namely: a) Kabila b) MONUSCO. Our people are righthly frustrated by the lack of leadership from both and as such hit the streets. Given this, it is a considerable stretch to conclude their anger is solely directed at M23.

I would like to see real and deep political reform in my homeland and if it occurs via a rebellion.....so be it.

Life in Contradiction said...

@Jason. This issue is truly a "wicked problem", and I don't mean in the Bostonian sense of the term! Tackling it objectively and critically as you do is refreshing compared to the overly simplistic superficial (and so often biased) commentary I've been tracking on the matter. Thanks again for your great work, and keeping it real.

blaise said...

An interesting old piece to connect the dots and may explain why pres Kabila does what he does.
http://towardfreedom.com/home/content/view/1171/1/

@Mel,you should join the debate on twitter, interesting insight as usual

@Kongo in NYC
I don't think the #M23 is genuine abt their claims, they know they will fail in the ballot box like the RCD and CNDP.
Only way out is genuine dialogue between Congolese and a true rally to save thee country. A de facto situation precede a Dejure one,not the way around

Sema Wapi said...

Rich, what exacly do you mean with "would better continue its painful yet irreversible walk towards true democracy without having to rely on a wobbly crutch that is the M23 et al".....? Do you really think, that the D.R.Congo is on a walk towards true demokracy? In what world do you live, to feel that?

And congo man, who do you think you are, saying: "over 99.9% of the Congolese peoples wants this terrorist M23 movement to be militarily confronted and It's leadership including this BISIMWA guy to be arrested and charged with war crimes and crimes against humanity."...??????

Thats your special point of View! How can you speak for 99,9 Percent of the congolese people?
Sorry, I myself am not a Congolese, so I should better shut up. But I've got close relatives in the kivus and know they are not able to give their opinion in blogs like this because of the lack of internet connection. But I know, this is not the opinion of the most people there.

It's folks like you, with your rhetoric confusion, who boost ethnic conflicts in the east. Saying all congolese Tutsi are Collaborators of Kagame and Kabila, pushing the "balcanasation" of the eastern
Congo and so on... I always wonder, where do you stand? To me it seems you're nothing else than "kabilas submarine".

And thanks to "Kongo in NYC" who said exactly what I mean..., and to Jason for that interesting interview!

Mel said...

Wonderful and balance piece by Judith- a member of the Siasa community.

African Arguments: http://bit.ly/VeoCRW

It is always so refreshing to see “analysis” balanced with recommendations. I am always so worried that the approach to the Congo and its problems always tends to begin, and too often end, as an object of inquiry(or pity if one works in “development”)- as opposed to a call to arms.

I'm also not going to comment on the running argument between Kongo in NYC and Rich. Both are making valid points but, as is so often the case with this latest turn of events, the tone is getting so polarized. I just don't won't to contribute to that at this particular hour. Change, of some kind, is coming to the DRC (and the region) as a result of this rebellion and I just really believe we all need to a) accept this fundamental reality and whatever that comes of it b) remember to maintain vigilance for our brothers and sisters in the Congo who bear the brunt of it.

@Blaise- yeah, I got to get on twitter. But this old girl just sucks on social media. I'll give it a go though.

Mel

Rich said...

Sema Wapi -

Ref # "Rich, Do you really think, that the D.R.Congo is on a walk towards true demokracy?"

Perhaps I should start to "really think", that a rwandan backed rebellion is desperately needed by Congolese to pull through.

What I meant was fairly simple: Rwanda has ZERO democracy how come its puppet M23 will come to bringing democracy in DRC? This is more than a contradiction Sema Wapi.

Ref # "In what world do you live, to feel that?"

I am not sure! You can help by telling me "in what world" you read my comment.

There is no need to be mean to get your point across. Trust me my tone will always be reciprocal to that of my interlocutor.

Rich

kizza brown said...

watch m23 comin back to goma by monday night time or by tuesday the latest cause kabila doesnt seem to b ready to negotiate by 2pm tomorrow as an order from them.balkanisation thats wtf is up. north n south kivu r gone thats why u dont ntn from the whitehouse.

James Serudonyori said...

I have read a letter from Hege to the Sanctions Committee and leaked to the media. I have lost all respect for Hege. He is a tool being used by FDLR and Congo, he is not an independent expert.
He only concetrates on evidences pointing to Rwanda's culpability and ignores any mitigating evidences.
1. He says JVC photographed a RDF soldier in Rwandan uniform. This is the first time he is refering to this JVC because it has something bad about Rwanda to say. He quotes Congolese senior officers, Congolese civilians and former RDF officers (Read Major Jean Marie Micombero, Major Rudasingwa, etc, dissidents) as his sources to satisfy three source rule. Are these sources independent and neutral?
He implicates five RDF generals in capture of Goma. He is igonorant of military operations completely, or deliberately fabricates stories.
he says there was exchage of fire over the border and RDF beirfly crossed into Congo, 'violating its soveregnity' "Exchange of fire over the border" deliberately omitting FARDC firing into Rwanda.
He is angry because he has been accused of being FDLR attack dog, and he is attacking Kabarebe because of the interview he granted a belgian media, saying the GoE are young, inexperienced amateurs. Shame on Hege!

The Eclectic Intellect said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
http://wimw-Bachmann.blogspot.com said...

I have been following this blog for a while, and it is a useful tool to be updated, no question about that. Mr Stearns does a good job for all of us who do not have the time to follow up on events in the DRC on a daily base. Also, the contributions to discussions attached the main posts are enlightening.
However, to be honest, I would not want to be exposed to political power of many of the people posting on these boards. Hardly ever have I seen such a conundrum of ideologically overcharged pamphlets than in these boards. It is true, only a handful of contributors have enough time at their hands to maintain a vague of propaganda – sometime applying a wording worth the best students of Joseph Goebbels – but overall the contributions of people sincerely interested in an advancement of the Congo are prevailing. One simply skips postings by the ordinary hate-speakers. Many thanks go to contributors Congo NYC, and Mel.
I wish to thank the industrious contributor Blaise for the link to http://www.pole-institute.org/site%20web/echos/echo181.htm, and I repeat it here hoping that this impressive piece would find more readers.
Now my question, which refers to the term “Balkanisation”:
What exactly does the tern Balkanisation mean? I am quite familiar with the historical process of balkanisation, which was a long term evolution of the independent states of Greece, Bulgaria, Serbia, Albania, Romania, and Hungary. Overall, Balkanisation was a process of state formation of territories that had been parts of the Austro-Hungarian and the Ottoman Empires – a process of decolonisation. The people on the ground had little less aspiration than to get rid of these boundaries, which were defined by military occupation, and introduce their own boundaries.
The Congo territory was defined by Leopold of Belgium, and the first step of division of the terrain dates probably back to the division between French and Belgian Congo. Now – some of you have decided that the former Belgian part of the Congo is now a nation. The territory has never been fought for, it is not the result of military expansion – it was not gained, it was granted. What is this nation based on, except for the boundaries set by Monsieur Leopold? Why is it so essential to defend boundaries that were set by a person who has never set a foot on African soil? Why?
Directly after independence a process started in the DRC which had it been in Europe, would have been described as a process or state formation: Katanga and Kasai tried to become independent. This process was subdued, with lot of support by foreign forces, and its abortion still seems to haunt the country. By 2012 there is no state in the DRC, there is no jurisdiction, and the constitution of 2006 has not been implemented. What’s next? Carry on and keep calm won’t work.

Rich said...

Ref # "Why is it so essential to defend boundaries that were set by a person who has never set a foot on African soil? Why?"

Because that land has become a common heritage, providing an identity to millions and paid with the blood of people like P Lumumba, S Kimbangu etc.

Trust me this is not propaganda let alone being someone's supporter. It is simply an expression of deeply rooted sentiments shared by millions of Congolese up and down the country. Unlike those who set boundaries without having to ever set foot on the soil, I've been up and down the country and I humbly think I know enough to not buy into the "Congo is too big to succeed" theory. If size (big) of a country has ever been a problem then there wouldn't ever been a genocide in rwanda back in 1994.

I maybe wrong but the results of the 2005 constitutional referendum is the best survey that can exist on this topic. In that referendum Congolese made it clear that they want their country the size it is now and the same "boundaries". Who are we to tell Congolese they are wrong?

Rich

Douglas and Jennings said...

Jason, can you recommend an organization that is helping IDPs in the Kivus? Would like to help out but not sure the best way.

Mel said...

Rich & Congoman-

One thing I do want to take issue with is what appears, in my opinion, of an attempt to deny any agency to Congolese Tutsi's.

It is plainly clear to anyone who has followed the Congo and its problems in the East that a sizable portion of elites of this community do not trust or have any respect for the authorities in Kinshasa. Sure, they aren't the only ones with beef with the regime in Kinshasa but, as we all know, they are the most organized and the most unwilling to bend to its will.

In your latest comments, you both seem to gloss over their concerns and suggest that this is simply the efforts of their cousins in Kigali seeking political and economic control over the Kivu's.

But is that accurate?

Most of what I have read about the various incarnations of Tutsi rebelliousness provide pretty vivid detail of Congolese Tutsi's that align themselves with Kigali when it suits their interests and repel them where necessary. Indeed, the battle between Nkunda and Bosco was almost entirely based on the inability of Kigali to get a firm grip over the CNDP.

With this context in mind, I have some questions:

1- By denying any agency to Congolese Tutsi's, are you not denying them their right, as Congolese nationals, to petition for grievances?

2- If Congo is indeed on a "slow march to democracy", is it not a fundamental democratic principle the protection of minorities? If so, what does it say about the march?

3- If y'all DO grant agency to Congolese Tutsi's and recognize the flaws of governance in the Congo (which both of you have on other occasions), what are the expressed means by which such minorities can petition Kinshasa for redress? How do they hold Kinshasa accountable?

4- Is it at all possible that Congolese Tutsi's and Kigali could, at the same time, have both divergent and aligned interests? If so, how does that effect y'alls beliefs about Kigali's intentions? That of M23? Resolving this conflict more broadly?

I want to make clear that I agree that M23, and its backers, are a bunch of thugs. But simply opining that fact without coming to grips with the one piece of the Congolese fabric that continues to dangle- Congolese Tutsi's- doesn't encourage a clarity of mind that will be needed to resolve what is their THIRD rebellion in the Congo.

Congolese Tutsi's may be a small minority within broader Congolese society.

But as the whole world is beginning to figure out, they are a particularly aggressive and effective one that, unlike most Congolese, are simply unwilling to live under the corrupt and incompetent regime in Kinshasa.

Continuing to deny this, sweep it under the rug, ignore it and hope that it goes away, attempting to defeat them militarily, or blaming Kigali has not worked, y'all.

Perhaps confronting reality might.

Mel

http://wimw-Bachmann.blogspot.com said...

@ Rich

Many thanks for the reply. I trust that there is a sentiment of nationalism in the DRC as in any other country. People need a number of points of reference to form an identity. No doubt about that. But a sentiment does not make a state.

When, in the 19th century, Germans were rallying for a single German state, they eventually ended up with two states, the German, and the Austrian ones. Over time each unit then modified its proper nationalism. It is a political decision, not a sentimental one whether one forms a nation state, and if so, within which borders. By the way, I have only yesterday spoken to one of your compatriots from Bukavu, who told me that he would not wish to be ruled by Kinshasa. Maybe he has taken up another heritage from your common history, or has come to another political conclusion.

I fully agree that the size of a country does not pose a problem; Algeria, Brazil, India, and Canada are evidence for this - but that was not my point.

I also agree that a constitutional referendum is a strong argument to say that there is enough social cohesion within a population to justify the emergence of a state. In that case I would wish you the best of luck for the construction of a state…actually it is about time to start such a process in earnest seven years after the referendum.

Maybe the new commander of the armed forces is right, and the Congo has to win this war militarily – a war against all who contest the state’s legitimate monopoly on violence. Most probably the nationalist sentiment would make the people rally behind a successful army – in that case the sentiment could indeed play a positive role in the advancement of a policy of state-building.

Rich said...

@ Mel -

Thanks for your comment but I would be grateful if you can point to any of my comments where I dismiss the concerns of any of the more than 400 ethnic minority groups living in the DRC, let alone those of the Tutsi community.

By doing so you will help me answer some of your questions. Otherwise, I find it difficult to reply to accusations that I find baseless.

The other thing is that I seriously take issue with the way your present things, quote, "they are the most organized". I find it highly insulting to other Congolese communities and this is not different from what we hear Belgium did in attributing tutsi ans hutu identity to the people in that region back in the colonisation era.

Again it will be helpful if you can share with us the measurement tools that led you to draw this kind of conclusion knowing that there are hundreds of communities in the DRC and many of them have had viable and well organised structures dated for thousands of years.

To finish, I doubt Tutsis have been "denied agency" in the DRC and this is true for the various regimes that have been in charge of that country since the colonisation. To the contrary, I would say, more than any other minority groups of the DRC, Tutsis have occupied key functions in Congolese institutions for years. An example of that will be to look at the army and the police in its current configuration where there is a large proportion of officers of Tutsi descents probably more than any other group.

@ Bachman... -

I read your comment carefully and allow me to say, we can toss these arguments from one side to another for years if it is only about playing with words such as "sentiments, heritage, political conclusion, state, nation...".

My point was, Congolese said it clearly, in 2005, they want their country in its current geographical limitations and I think we have to respect that, regardless of how long they take to build a nation that is acceptable to THEM.

I agree that nationalist sentiment is key to drive any advancement in state-building and trust me Congolese don't lack it, all they need is to be left alone sort their nation out.

Rich

muana congo said...

@Mel and friends

Thanks for at long last being man enough and casting your indiscriminate pro-Tutsis bias colours to the mask, and stop that patronizing of Congolese with jokes like industrial farming in Mbaza-Ngungu and so on.

All you are saying here (DECEMBER 2, 2012 9:17 PM) is just what all Kagame int’l backers rehash on CNN and co. about some “grievances of Congolese Tutsis”. But for once let’s leave the realm of embellished abstractions and talk “facts”.

(1)Can you provide just one Congolese law or practice that particularly discriminates against Tutsis in congo?

(2)Can you give a single grievance by Congolese Tutsis (governance, poverty,jobs, army problems…) that is “only” shared by Congolese Tutsis and not other communities?

(3)As Rich said, can you refute that Congolese Tutsis have a disproportional representation in DRC’s institutions and army as we speak? Can you deny this “reality” dear Mel?

(4)As for the beef about “governance” in DRC, many Congolese share it undoubtedly. The question is how do we obtain a “real and durable good governance” in a country that is multi-community and that aspires to real democracy like DRC, unlike two-tribe and forever tyrannical Rwanda? Through rapes and killing of children as they are doing? I say NO. It should be through “Democracy”. Have you heard of JK’s choices for governors being defeated in Bas-Congo and Oriental Province? Or of changes to CENI? JK will not stand 2016. Congolese need more, but those are the small steps and opportunities that those opposed to the regime should exploit.

(5)Having said all this, can you dear Mel tell us then what are those grievances of Congolese Tutsis?

Look, this senseless violence is not about any grievances by Congolese Tutsis. It is Kagame and his int’l backers ASSAULT on Congolese people and resources in the Kivus.

PS.
You say here “Congolese Tutsis unlike most Congolese, are simply unwilling to live under the corrupt and incompetent regime in Kinshasa”

Nothing can be more insulting to Congolese people. It only shows that you know little about DRC’s history in the last 50 years. From day one, Congolese have fought fearlessly for democracy and good governance. Have you ever heard of Gizenga,LDK,Mulele, Gbenye, Sumialo, Sendwe or Tshisekedi? Congolese have had “Arab spring” a long time back.

muanacongo

glenys said...

Jason, thank you for this interview transcript. Always good to have direct questions and direct answers.

Once again, however, we see a vagueness. It is very unusual for a rebel group not to arise out of a deep grievance and to proclaim their demands to redress the grievance often– both as a source of legitimacy and as a means to rally supporters.

We are told that a “cahier des charges that lists our demands” exists, but M23 isn’t telling anyone what it is.

Again, it seems that M23 exists to exist. Which in turn, suggests that there is no path to successful negotiations that will not leave M23 intact.

Quick thought on ex-combatant reintegration. It is always a challenge to reintegrate former combatants. If they are not “fully” integrated (whatever that entails) there is a risk that they will prefer life as a rebel to their life post-rebel. The largest proportion of M23 is not mutineers, but rather individuals who have joined M23. Are we surprised that some men prefer life as a rebel combatant to any other alternative they currently have?

-- Glenys

Mushi B. said...

@Rich,
"...all they(NDLR:Congolese) need is to be left alone sort their nation out."
Can't agree more with you. If only the international community could leave us alone for 10 years, then, you will see how we evolve naturally into viable states. Imagine Congo without UN presence and all meddling(pressures on different actors) from US, EU, AU, ICGLR, SADC, RWANDA, UGANDA, ANGOLA and other NGO's...

Just 2 questions for you:

1. When Katanga leaders wanted to succeed, who stopped them? Congolese or non-congolese?
2. If you are well informed as you suggest,do you see Katanga part of DR Congo, if for any reason Kabila Joseph is ousted from power?

Actually based on my analysis and the information I have, I believe Katanga will break away before the Kivus.

That being said, I disagree with the widely distributed idea that Congolese overwhelmingly reject secessionism.
Sessionism is well alive among many people in Katanga, Kassai and Kivu. Only the elite who can talk to westerners like you tend to repel that sentiment, for fear of the unknown, and the hidden agenda of some foreign powers.

Mushi B. said...

Correction for a Typo error:
1. When Katanga leaders wanted to secede, who stopped them? Congolese or non-congolese?

Mel said...

Part 1.....

@ Rich & Muana Congo

Thanks for both of your responses though, Muana Congo, I'd appreciate if you could make an argument without ad hominem attacks.

A few thoughts on your responses....

- Rich, in your very first sentence, you dismiss the concerns of the Congolese Tutsi's by submerging them into the ethnic tapestry of the Congo. Perhaps you didn't catch that when you wrote it?

- I will be more careful in the future to avoid words like "organized" when discussing ethnic groups in the Congo. I meant no offense. To be clear, by "organized" I don't mean to suggest that certain ethnic groups have more facility in administration. What I mean, is that unlike other ethnic groups in the Congo, Congolese Tutsi's have been organized enough to threaten the existence of the Congo's very weak state apparatus. If you could offer up another recent example where this has occurred with a different ethnic group I'd appreciate it but, if you can't, my argument remains a sound one.

- Congolese Tutsi participation in either local or central government institutions (like the police or army) is not in itself proof that they are not discriminated against nor have faith in the abilities of central authorities. This would also be the case with the law as it relates to them as a group. Do not Muslims in Lebanon have legally sanctioned positions in its government AND its economy? Yet do they not continue to support Hezbollah? In both cases, these minorities (a term I want to use holistically here) have so little faith in the existing state that controls these institutions that they are willing to engage in active rebellion against it- which, for leverage purposes, additionally means seeking out foreign support. (Iran for Hezbollah and Rwanda for M23).

- I find your request for "measurement tools" about Congolese Tutsi grievances a little astonishing, Rich. Is it not plainly obvious to you that they have no respect for the regime in Kinshasa? What further proof do you need? In Stearns, Judith's, and Séverine Autesserre works they document- pretty clearly- that Congolese Tutsi's have deep and abiding grievances that have not been assuaged by numerous attempts by the regime in Kinshasa. And they also document the SEVERE prejudice non-Congolese Tutsi's express towards Congolese Tutsi's. Those grievances and the expression of Congolese racism, to a considerable but not determinative degree, feed rebellion and the proliferation of armed groups.

Mel said...

Part 2

- My central concern here is that by not singling out the particular concerns of what appears to be the most rebellious ethnic group we are, in effect, ignoring the problem. And the problem, to be very clear, is a direct result of the ineptness of the Congolese State and inadquecies of Congolese Democracy. I recognize that there are many Congolese who have deep issues with both. But, unlike them, Congolese Tutsi's feel the "Congo rot" (to use a Stearns term) particularly personally and have been willing to take up arms against the state to press their demands. This isn't a moral argument for this approach but, rather, a call to see this reality as it is as opposed to sweeping it under the rug with kumbaya, "we all get along" nationalism we've gotten from the Congolese authorities, press, and backers of this regime.


- As you know, my husband and I have a palm farm in Bas Congo. It is jointly owned and entirely managed with our Congolese partners- a function of the law since foriegn investors, as of last year, cannot own land outright in the Congo. I can assure you that while the Congolese see themselves as a nation of people, undivisible, that does not mean they do not believe their current state- as distinct from their nation- cannot be constituted differently. Sure, this is Bas Congo where the local Kongo people's have long resisted central authority and have, at times, taken up arms against it- most recently in the last decade. Noone who works for, or services, our farm is wedded to the current dispensation. Do you honestly believe this is a minority view?

I have good friends in Eastern Congo, Katanga, and now Bas Congo. Everyone loves the nation yet I cannot find a single person who loves the state. Not one.

As many of us our saying, quite a bit is about to change in the Congo given the absolute and complete leverage M23 has over the regime in Kinshasa. I realize that everyone is hoping in praying on the "Great Rwanda Aid Dump" as a way out of this mess. I think that's a horrible strategy primarily because the bulk of its aid- like in the Congo- is attached to disbursements from financial institutions like the African Development Bank, IMF, and World Bank. Those are legally binding contracts and cannot be revoked for political reasons. I would add that relying on a aid dump speaks volumes about the regime in Kinshasa at this point.

For the purposes of this blog and our discussions, I think it is important to recognize and accept reality- deal with Congolese Tutsi demands effectively- and start thinking through what a new political dispensation that gets to all of our shared goals of a united, peaceful, efficient, well-governed, and democratic Congo looks like. Let's us not keep staring at the abyss but set our sights higher.

Both will point the way forward for ALL of the Congolese people.

Mel

ps. Welcome Sami, Glenys, Mushi B, kizza, and Bachman! Glad to see more commenters on the blog and found all of yours really fascinating. Please join as you are able.


Mel said...

Sorry for yet another post on this thread. :)

As mentioned in an earlier comment, Kinshasa has been seeking an extension to an IMF credit facility that had been cancelled by the IMF due to Kinshasa's inability, or unwillingness, to publish IN FULL all mineral resource contracts as a condition for funds.

Well, the IMF just said denied the extension which means no more IMF money to Kinshasa.

http://www.businessweek.com/news/2012-12-03/imf-halts-congo-loans-over-failure-to-publish-mine-contract

Not a good sign for this regime in my opinion.

Mel

muana congo said...

@Mel


Thanks for the response.

First congratulations to you on IMF freezing a loan that would alleviate suffering and save lives of ordinary Congolese. You won once again!

That said, I am sorry to repeat myself again as you didn’t tell us how Congolese Tutsis are discriminated against in DRC nor their grievances.

All rebellions everywhere have “publicly stated grievances”, Congolese Tutsis or M23 don’t say theirs. Or they keep moving goal posts. You didn’t give a single one grievance by Congolese Tutsis, yet you want Congolese to face reality and address them. How do you address that which you don’t know? Even in Bisimwa’s interview, he says they can not divulge their “cahier de charge”. Have you ever seen that with any other rebellion elsewhere?

So why the secrecy about Congolese Tutsis’ concerns then? My conclusion can only be that they don’t have concerns of their own. They are remotely controlled by Kagame.

muanacongo

muana congo said...

Vox populi, Vox dei (people’s will is God’s will)

The Congolese people soldiers are back in beloved Goma. Forget a couple of policemen who had no choice but to surrender to the invader.

Please you need not read, just see in the photos how the relieved Goma population, women and children are hugging and kissing their soldiers FARDC:
http://in.reuters.com/article/2012/12/03/congo-democratic-goma-m-idINDEE8B20BK20121203
http://www.voanews.com/content/congolese-troops-enter-goma/1557512.html

The point is time is against Kagame and backers, people’s will is invincible!

Kongo in NYC said...

Great questions, Mel.

And ofcourse, instead of answering them, Rich and Muana Congo attack your reasoning and person (well, Muana Congo did atleast).

But here’s a question I’m fairly confident they will not answer but goes to the very heart of your argument.

If the Congolese believe in the capacity of their own state to protect and support them, why have near 500,000 of them fled for the lives in the Kivu’s? One would think they would have confidence in their own government to protect them from intruders, right? So why flee?

There is no greater and more damning symbol of the rank failure of our beloved homeland to protect and serve our people than the thousands fleeing in terror to find peace and solace to foreign NGO's who provide it.

But its ALL the M23’s fault right? Its all Kampala and Kigali’s fault, right?

Right. And I’m the damn tooth fairy.

Please, Rich and others. Stop shilling for this horrible regime and doing your best to imitate Bahdad Bob.



Mel said...

@Muana Congo

You are perfectly aware of M23's demands, my friend. And the argument that because they tend to shift doesn't make them any less salient or less serious. As leverage shifts in any negotiation, so too do the demands. M23 started with one set after the mutiny, then took some territory, then took Goma, and added to their demands. Nothing odd or "unserious" about it. Simply follow the debate over taxes and spending in my own country between Republicans and the President if you need proof. Its Negotiation 101.

Finally, it was not me that encouraged the IMF to end the credit facility. That was Kinshasa and its unwillingness to abide by its own rules. It's called honoring contracts, Muana Congo. As with many things this government does- or fails to do- the result will mean more struggles for the Congolese given the money was to be used to shore up its foreign reserves. Now that the line of credit is not an option, a period of inflation is likely to typify the domestic economy and harm the Congolese and tax-payers to the Congo treasury- like yours truly. So, once again, elites in Kinshasa attempt to double deal by selling off the bounty of Congo to the highest bidder end up imperiling the entire economy when they get caught.

Are you defending this?

Finally, M23 said today they will retake Goma if Kabila does not open negotiations as he promised to do if they withdrew.

I pray, every day, that he will bite the bullet and do so for the sake of his people- even if it means he loses power.

Its my hope that you do as well.

Mel

muana congo said...

@Mel

Wonderful, you can't wait for hyperinflation in Congo after IMF decision, can you?

Look,No. Trust me I don’t know what M23 grievances are. Why don’t you tell us what those are?

The governance lapse in DRC is used as an overarching excuse to justify the "silence" and to ignore the killings of women and childrens by Kagame. I for one castigate bad governance in appropriate fora. But I think that in a pluralist society like DRC, it is only democracy and differing views that will ensure real and durable good governance. We have had enough rebellions and killings in the last 50 years!
I have answered your question on governance lackings, can you please answer mine direcly?

(1)Please, provide a single law or practice of discrimination against Tutsis in DRC, and by whom.
(2)Please tell us what are the grievances of the Congolese Tutsis or M23 that are particular to them and not shared by other Congolese.
Simple questions, answer please.

PS.
In your last post you seem to intimate that i might not be Congolese. Sorry, i am a born and bred Congolese.


kizza brown said...

muana congo and mende must be bloody cousins they talk like they knw more about congo than the rest of cngolese ppls.muana congo u dont knw ntn about congolese politics period.what r u tryin to tell us!!that the FARDC return is being celebrated by goma populations?was it not the same way when m23 entered goma?let me tell u somthin ..even if today mai mai enters goma it will be celebrated too coz this ppls r confused and dont knw wats goin on.now IMF closed your line of credit what does that tell you?it means kinshasa government is doomed n pretty soon its the regime change coz i knw when doors start shuttin off on you like this it means business .watchin frazer interview on bbc it made me come to conclusion that kabila government is done might be wrong bt we should see.that 10bln dollars contract to chinese is hunting him back and the whitehouse has decided to bounce him

Kongo in NYC said...

@ kizza brown- you are fabulous! Entirely agree with your comment.

@ Mel- please, do not respond to Muana Congo. He is trying to bait you and, like Rich, refuses to zero in on the very real and very destabilizing concerns of our Tutsi brothers in Eastern Congo. For him and other misguided nationalists, Congolese Tutsi's should just shut up, wait for another election to be stolen, bring their grievances to our corrupt courts that never uphold any law, make deals with Kinshasa that it will eventually break so that the mafia the rest of the world calls "politicians" can eat from the blood mineral cake in the East to, be content with a state that can barely finance its own budget to say the least of protecting the dignity and sacredness of our women, and just generally take it like the rest of the “400 ethnic groups” that make up the Congolese nation.

All Congolese problems, in their world, emanate from Kigali or some multinational mining company HQ's. All of them. And ofcourse, if you any problems with Le Regime, we should all just "wait" for that magical day far, far, far ahead when our “slow march to democracy” somehow arrives at that destination beyond the rainbow when our people will wake up with a functioning state and a working democracy that is accountable to them.

No problem, gents. Continue to believe in your own canard.

A few of us will happily agree to flush it down the toilet in our effort to reclaim the dignity and respect of our people.

Justice, through the M23, is approaching....

Mel said...

@Kongo NYC

I’m perfectly find engaging with Rich and Muana Congo. I’m a big girl (literally) and have come across their likes before.

@Muana Congo

Act of Discrimination
1)It took an act of law, in 1972, to grant Congolese Tutsi’s citizenship. Then, in 1981, Mobutu restricts this to only who can trace their ancestry back to 1885- mostly to counter growing Tutsi economy power in the Kivu’s and to balance his near constant Machielvian performances that passed for governance. Then, in 1993, Mobuto appointee and North Kivu Governor, Jean-Pierre Kalumbo Mbogho, orders ALL Tutsi’s to leave the province which sparks pogroms that lead to the death of over 14,000 Tutsi’s. Mobutu does reverse this decision but, by then, the damage had been done. The current constitution in force reverted this back to anyone who is a member of an ethnic group that lived in what was then the Belgian Congo at independence. Thus, for Tutsi's, this constant ying and yang that has mostly be directed at them (though not exclusively given other groups, ie, Kongo, who have issues with central rule from Kinshasa) does not inspire confidence- to say the least.

Unequal treatment
1)Refugees: There are over 50,000 Congolese Tutsi refugees in Rwanda who have been living there for quite some time and stems from the wars in the late 90’s/early 21st century. Non-Congolese Tutsi’s, also displaced during the war, have been able to repatriate.

2)Double Standards: This all began with an attempt by Kabila to arrest Bosco. Yet, he is surrounded by ministers who are implicated in numerous crimes and they walk freely. Ofcourse, Bosco is a Congolese Tutsi and the bulk of Kabila’s ministers are not.

Hopefully this suffices but I’m fairly certain it will not and that’s just fine. I’m not a Congolese Tutsi nor a Congolese legal scholar so I can only go by what is available online. In any event, I’m confident your desire for answers is really, in my opinion, an attempt to delegitimize M23’s demands. That’s entirely understandable given you are clearly a Congolese nationalist- which I respect- but no amount of proof concerning either laws or grievances will be enough for you.

You see M23 as a bunch of puppets, controlled and financed by Kigali, who’s major goal is to kill, rape, and generally reak havoc in the Congo so as to gain primary access to the mineral reserves in the East. The M23, for you, are the symbol of evil and imperialism and therefore must be crushed.

I get your MO, Muana Congo.

My central point in my line of questioning is that the refusal of Congolese elites in Kinshasa- and those who parrot their propaganda in places likes Congo Siasa-to see the humanity behind M23. I understand why this is so hard- they are killing, raping, maiming, and completely humiliating the Congolese Army. And, a good deal of the leadership is led by Tutsi’s who are reviled by many Congolese as a particular ethnic group in the Congo.

As I have stated, however, as long as you and others are unwilling to grant the M23 some humanity the M23 will continue to deny it of the Congolese and we will have nothing but more death and pain for its people.

My central fear is that I really do believe the Eastern Congo is evolving into the same existential hell as the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. Noone wants to see the other’s humanity and grievances, everyone wants to blame various foreign powers for stoking division and gaining leverage, and everybody is content on exacting barbaric levels of violence on each other in order to keep or shift advantage.

I guess all we need to wait on now is Congolese Tutsi’s strapping home-made bombs on their bodies and walking into restaurants.

I hope it doesn’t come to that but, again, noone is willing to be the grown up here.

Its all so sad.

Mel

Rich said...

Mel -

Ref "- Rich, in your very first sentence, you dismiss the concerns of the Congolese Tutsi's by submerging them into the ethnic tapestry of the Congo. Perhaps you didn't catch that when you wrote it?"

Which very first sentence if I may ask?

What is wrong with referring to any Congolese ethnic group in a "ethnic tapestry of the Congo"?

I simply hope you are not making the mistake of assuming you know what I think about the Tutsis.

Rich

Rich

muana congo said...

@Mel

This is my last post on this topic. Because if you re-read your posts,you will see that you go on and on but don’t answer my two simple questions:

(1) provide a single law or practice of discrimination against Tutsis in DRC, and by whom.
(2)Tell us what are the demands of the Congolese Tutsis or M23 that are particular to them and not shared by other Congolese.

Instead you indulge in big dates and emotive yet non-factual statements. Let’s counter them with “facts”:

(1)About citizenship. The citizenship of Congolese Tutsis is not contested. Have thousands of Tutsis who live far from Kivus in Kinshasa and other provinces been attacked?

(2)About the return of refugees. No one is opposed to their return. There is a tri-partite commission of DRC-Rwanda-HCR who were very advanced on this issue before M23 stopped everything in April. By the way, do you care about other hundred of thousands non-Tutsi Congolese who languish in refugee camps in the 9 surrounding countries?

(3)It is unfortunate that you put M23 and all Congolese Tutsis in one basket. Personally I think that the two are distinct. Ordinary Congolese Tutsis like all of us ordinary fellows don’t care about those grand plans, all they want is security,jobs,shelter and food. In other words, does M23 solely and legitimately represent all Congolese Tutsis?

Lastly look how your disciplined M23 fighters killing, raping and looting even the vulnerable refugees in camps.

http://radiookapi.net/actualite/2012/12/03/nord-kivu-les-rebelles-du-m23-accuses-de-viol-sur-6-femmes-mugunga/

So proud hein?

muanacongo

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tresor said...

We realy need to be careful in labelling the M23 as the representives of tutsi interest because the majority of the tutsi do not support them. Even though I agree that congolese tutsi have grieviences just like other tribes in congo, the problem here is the level of violence that is being commited by the M23. And I think that has been the main point and the reason for the intervention of the international community. nobody can accept the kind of violence and suffering being imposed on innocent civilian regardless of the griviences that some tribes have. for me the M23 are Rwandans mascarading as congolese tutsi whose main interests is to simply loot.

Gisa Rebero said...

Greetings to Muana congo,Congo man, Blaise, James and all the others; it has been a while. Let me share my thoughts on the DRC situation.
MILITARY AND POLITICAL SITUATION
The situation has dramatically changed in North Kivu, since my last post.
1. As I predicted, military commanders erroneously thought they can defeat M23; their move ended up in complete disarray. M23 took Goma and only a concerted diplomatic pressure prevented the fall Bukavu.
2. It will take 3 to 5 months before FARDC reorganize and launch another offensive. I can predict that this one will be a suicide for Kabila and his government.
3. In the meantime politically nothing has changed. Kabila is not willing to find a political settlement to the crisis.
4. The promise to “listen to M23 legitimate grievances" is just a way of buying time, while sending more troops and ammunitions to Bukavu(Goma is no longer the military base it is used to be up until last month).
5. On their side M23 know Kabila's intentions. They made sure the logistics seized in Goma is transferred to their bases in Bunagana and Rutshuru, a sign M23 know they are into this war for months to come.
6. M23's latest attempt to rally support from political opposition is bearing fruits. Opposition in Kinshasa and in diaspora have found in M23 what they couldn't find by courting the IC: “pressure on Kabila's regime to accept his defeat in 2011 elections, and make a power sharing deal with major political forces, dismantling the CENI and freedom of movement for Tshisekedi".
7. Before the fall of Goma won't be the same as the after fall of Goma. Prof Ka Mana’s analysis reflects what independent Congolese intellectuals and opinion leaders think.
DIPLOMATIC SITUATION
1. Kabila's line (advised by and shared with Didier Reynders) was to call for more pressure and sanctions on Rwanda and its leadership. They somehow succeeded in short term. But in long term, as the conflict changes face, it will be difficult to maintain that line.
2. Already many voices internationally are questioning the approach of singling out Rwanda and its leadership.
3. The ICGLR force will be deployed in Goma before the end of the year. That will signal the end of 10 years of existence of Monuc/Monusco in DR Congo. Congo stabilization force will take the configuration of the one in Somalia.
4. More and more binding resolutions on DR Congo will come from ICGLR and AU instead of the UNSC.USA and UK governments are more likely to support the leading role of ICGLR. France and Belgium are likely to oppose this and push the UN to continue playing significant. France and may try and play on the regional divisions and ask for equal involvement of SADC.
5. In long run, diplomacy will be of very little impact on the situation on the ground. An internal dynamic within the civil society, the political class in Kinshasa and the diaspora will be decisive. By civil society I mean the catholic church- other civil society entities are very corrupt and do not reflect the will of the people.
UNITY OF DR CONGO
1. In above comments I have seen a trend to invoke the division of DRC into autonomous states; in my last posts I cautioned my Congolese brothers about the danger coming from unsuspected corners, some called friends of Congo.
2. I was particularly stunned on how everyone in the international community is keen at asking the M23 not to advance up to Kinshasa. What does this imply? We know they(IC) do not like Kabila’s government that much. What about the silence on the fate of Tshisekedi?
3. I agree with those who think that maintaining Kabila’s weaker government plays in favor of “balkanization” of DR Congo.
4. I believe in pan Africanist ideals and oppose any attempt of dividing DRC; I believe it is a long term strategic interest for Rwanda (and Africa in general) to have a united, strong (militarily, politically) and prosperous DRC.

tresor said...

I think we need to stop calling the rebel m23, it the rwandan army. the war hear it's between rwanda and Congo. and I think as long as international community have their eye on rwanda it will be difficult for them to acheive their objective. Given the weakness of congo institution, what Kabila can continue to do is play hide and seek like is doing now and let the circus continue until congo has a strong army to defend itself. Giving in to the demand of the so called M23 it will be like handing over N and S kivu to rwanda on a silver plate

blaise said...

@ Gisa,
Greeting,hope you are having fun with the Chinese. I'm happy that we are getting to that understanding about the need to have a stable and united Congo for the good of everybody in the region.Contested lands(territories) are poisonous in people life and States relations.Hopefully, everybody will get to your conclusion.

@ Mel
I follow your back and forth. You raise some good points but some of your conclusions suffered from some flaws.
I don't know exactly what are the grievances between communities in the Kivu but I can assure you that outside the kivus, the Tutsi population is not reviled because of who they are but because of the perception that they are agents of foreign forces. A lot of people have friends or even married in that community without problems. Beside,it's not a homogeneous community like we may tend to believe. Gnral Kayumba(ex RDF) stated that some banyamulenge were dissatisfy with Rwanda and fought in the MLC.
In any case, if you follow Radio Okapi,you will stumble upon ethnic violence here and there. I'm not trying to mitigate the anti Tutsi feeling among Congolese but to recenter them into that gnral framework.
About the balkanisation issue,I think most ppl want more autonomy and the right to enjoy the wealth of their soil. That was the motive of Katanga. I believe the decentralization process should calm those fears.
Last but not least, the M23. What to say? Fail leadership?yes.Double dealing?Of course.General grievances?maybe not. Half of the Cndp is still in Fardc.
You should read this excellent piece by Ipis. Mind blowing analysis http://www.ipisresearch.be/att/20121130_Mapping_Conflict_Motives_M23.pdf

blaise said...

@Mel and @ Gisa,
sorry for my typos and English butchering,still sleepy.
BTW, Bosco wasn't pursued because he is Tutsi. Pres Kabila wanted to arrest him as a sacrificial lamb to the IC gods. Lubanga is not Tutsi, neither is Bemba or the other 2 dudes.

Mel said...

@ Rich

Here’s your first sentence- I’ve bolded where it appears, to me, you are dismissing Congolese Tutsi’s concerns:

Thanks for your comment but I would be grateful if you can point to any of my comments where I dismiss the concerns of any of the more than 400 ethnic minority groups living in the DRC, let alone those of the Tutsi community.

Finally, there is nothing- in theory- wrong with seeking to lump all Congolese into one nation. However, when it comes to public policy doing so doesn’t allow politicians or policy folks within the Congo to zero in on problems or concerns that affect a particular ethnic group. To take an example from my own country, if my federal or state (Florida) government is seeking to improve the educational achievement of its children- ie, ensuring, for example, they are proficient in written English by grade X- how effective would we be if we seek improvement among “American children in 3rd grade”? Would it not be more effective to examine how different groups of children- Latino, Asian, White, Black, middle class, low income, rural children, urban children, etc- are actually doing first and design policy accordingly? Indeed, it was former Florida Governor Jeb Bush (brother of George W, and son of George H.W.) began to do this were we able to see the massive gaps between different groups of kids, and shift educational policy accordingly, that we were able to narrow these gaps.

My point with Congolese Tutsi’s is that I don’t think it is useful to engage in policy, be it for war, refugees, education, etc, without singling them out given they are the one ethnic group in the Congo that has been the most unwilling to abide by the authority of Kinshasa.

And to be clear, I understand from your perspective why you DO NOT want to single out CT’s. Again, I am simply suggesting that doing so will not assist in encouraging those CT’s who are not yet devotees to M23- or whatever that replaces them should this crisis be resolved- in joining the cause.

Mel said...

@ Muana Congo

Thanks for atleast typing on the screen, man. It is unfortunate that instead of a reasoned response to my efforts to answer your question you instead chose to parrot the propaganda of the regime, peddle in falsehoods which you label as “facts”, engaged in some pretty lazy reasoning by making assumptions by posing questions, and, to top it off, even managed to sneak in a sexist comment. That’s a pretty remarkable performance, Muana. Did momma teach you to be a jerk? Or does this just come naturally? If its the latter, I highly suggest making a move to LA and auditioning for some acting gigs.

Also, I didn’t want to say this when you posed your “simple questions” but, as you surely knew when you wrote them, their underlying premise is based on a fundamental misunderstanding of discrimination. In my own country, African Americans no longer are subject to laws or policy that discriminate against them. But do mostly white teachers continue to have low expectations for their children? Do employers not continue to prefer hiring white candidates even when black ones are similarly skilled? Are they not incarcerated at higher rates for crimes that white commit at higher rates? Congolese Tutsi’s, by custom, law, and official government policy are discriminated against in their homeland. They wouldn’t support an active rebellion- No 3 at this point- if all was good and well in the Congo for them. And you know this, Muana. I get that some of that is other Congolese seeing them as agents for Rwanda but, as I posted above, this goes back BEFORE Rwandan meddling in the Congo.

When you are ready to have a grown up debate about these real challenges to the Congo let me know but otherwise please desist from the bullshit.

I know you are capable of this.

@Blaise

Thanks for that. My comments do suggest, now looking back, that I’m lumping all CT’s into the M23 bandwagon. I don’t actually believe that and, indeed, the wife of our partner in the palm operation is Tutsi- and while she “gets M23’s concerns” she would prefer more peaceful approaches to them. This is an error on my part and I appreciate your correction. I do feel, however, that CT’s DO have real grievances that must be addressed in a global manner.

@Gisa

Great and informative post. you seem to have the inside, as it were. I’m trying to find info on the opposition response to all this. Anything- it can be in French if so- you can share? I’m close to and gave money to Vital Karmerhe’s campaign and have the inside there but anything else you have with the rest of the opposition? Anything from the Catholic Church?

Mel

Mel said...

Sorry, Blaise, but I must respond to this:

I don't know exactly what are the grievances between communities in the Kivu but I can assure you that outside the kivus, the Tutsi population is not reviled because of who they are but because of the perception that they are agents of foreign forces.

Blaise, it is NEVER ok to engage in prejudice or racism. EVER.

As you know, during WW2, one of our greatest Presidents, FDR, interned Japanese Americans- the bulk of whom were 3rd and 4th generation citizens. Why? The “perception” that they were aiding and abetting our war time enemy- Imperial Japan. Next to slavery and the segregation of African AMericans, this was perhaps the ugliest moment in American history.

Wiki English article:

I do not care if 95% of CT’s join, from now until eternity, groups that seek the overthow of a regime in Kinshasa. That is not an excuse to hold prejudice against the remaining 5%.

It is fine if you disagree but I want to state clearly that prejudice and racism is NEVER ok. I am confident that wasn’t your intent and perhaps this is classic “ugly American” on my part given Americans, as a cultural value, place a high value on tolerance but I needed to respond to this.

Also, thank you for pointing out my error on Bosco and the other arrests. I stand corrected.

Mel

Mel said...

Opps.

Forgot the Japanese Internment wiki article.

Here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Japanese_American_internment

Mel

blaise said...

@ Mel
Take a step back, a deep breath and read me again. I didn't say "I think Tutsi...". I'm reporting to you the perception of an ordinary citizen in Congo, after an heavy propaganda from the national TV/Radio is thinking abt the CT.
Of course racism and prejudices are never okay but it's the reality worldwide. That what Sartre was alluding to when he said that "l'enfer, c'est les autres".
Do be more specific, what are the laws that discriminate the Tutsi community? are you talking abt the reversal of the Bisengimana law?
You have to bare in mind that the reversal affected Hutu and Tutsi that immigrated from Rwanda not only Tutsi.
My personal opinion is that this issue is used by politicians to antagonized communities in order to have more power. It's true inside the CT and outside the group.
I think a legal and organized offensive should clear the matter since the law is crystal clear abt nationality issues.
Again, it's unfortunate but prejudice is a trait share by most humans.It's fairly recently that the black have their civil right in America, a bicentennial democracy. Are you following what happening in Kenya? Do you remember the anti Japanese actions in China? How about the Kashmir?Check Georgia with the Ossetia.Have you been in "la banlieu" in France.how abt Germany?

Bottom line,Congo is even not at the level of 1940 America. People always look for the reason for their problems.In the East, the gov made us believe it was the rwandophones at large.The poor fellow confirmed that by siding with the invaders. In the west it was les bazombo or angolan refugees.But in a lesser measure.
You should purchase "Congo,une histoire" by David Van Reybrouck for a better grasp of the matter here.
We are not a full flesh democracy and I always advocate unity among Congolese regardless the size of their nose, period. And a bunch of people don't oppose their nationality but take exception in the collective attribution of nationality without verification.

muana congo said...

@ Gisa
Welcome back. I see “I told you so” prophecy there. LOL.
I hope we will civilly lock horns as before.
Take care.


@Mel

Cool down my friend and thanks for the “ad hominem compliments”. I thought I didn’t have to address this now circular conversation, but I have to I am afraid.

Can you see how short on facts to back you theories about Tutsi holocaust in DRC, you resort to lowly epithets. You are only good at thumb sucking after all. You say for instance: “Congolese Tutsi’s, by custom, law, and official government policy are discriminated against in their homeland”. I thought you were a serious contributor to this august forum. Don’t speak in tongues, provide facts dear Mel. I know many Congolese Tutsis are laughing at you right now.

I don’t in any way want to deny that M23 people may not have demands. I am a pragmatist. I want to know those demands so we can see how to solve them if ever they are reasonable and universally sharable by all Congolese. What are they dear Mel?

I think your problem is that of many expatriates who think they know Congo by reading books and watching CNN and co. I am a born and bred Congolese, and though I can’t pretend to know the Congolese Tutsi community enough, at least I went to high school with Congolese Tutsis in Kinshasa and Lubumbashi up to mid 1990s. I did not even know then that they were Tutsis despite appearances. Congo is too diverse mind you.
Guess what? Before Kagame started his hatred crusades in the Great Lakes, I can bet that most Congolese didn’t even know who Tutsis were. Many Tutsis were stars in Kinshasa circles for example the late Telecell entrepreneur Miko (see how many Congolese musicians have sung his praises). How about the great UNIKIN IR prof. Ndeshio Rurihose? Even now in our milieu of Congolese abroad we do talk. It is you people who have ulterior motives in Congo who poison inter-community relations with “off-the-wall-theories” even when facts on the ground contradict you.

Take care

muanacongo

Rich said...

Mel -

I'm sorry but your 'answer' reads more like another red herring.

My question was very simple. Check this thread again and you will realise that YOU mentioned the word "tutsi" before me. So I asked you and still asking you to show me where, in my comments I specifically attempted "to deny any agency to Congolese Tutsi's"?

All in all I referred to a rebel group backed by rwanda and it is disturbing that you felt you have to lecture me on how to perceive tutsis.

Again, you are wrong, wrong, wrong to think you know what my perspective is or why I DO NOT want to single out CT’s etc. I'm happy to read your speculations but no longer feel like I need to engage them. I find them baseless or manipulative when I don't find them patronising.

Rich

marieB said...

@ Muana Congo and Blaise

I've been following this blog for some time and the exchange with Mel.

I feel the need to respond with questions.

1) What is your definition of discrimination?

2) Have you, in your own person, been the victim of discrimination?

3) How is discrimination proven?

4) How do we Congolese deal with CT's so that they do not feel the need to join rebellions and be used by local warlords supported by Rwanda?

5) Do you believe this crisis is a) entirely the result of Rwanda/foreign meddling to keep Congo weak and have access to mineral wealth b) a symptom of state failure in Congo c) both d) neither?


I want stress that I mostly agree with Mel and Kongo NYC. Maybe because I live in America. But Mel's questioning is good because it is challenging us to locate ROOT of the problem.

Maybe Mel is wrong. But if you both have answers to my questions I would appreciate it so as to gain clarity on this problem in my country.

Thank you.

Kongo in NYC said...

Honestly, Mel, I wouldn't bother to dignify Rich and Muana Congo with an answer.

For Muana Congo, we Congolese are just slaves to the "powers that be"- no agency, no dignity, no ability to chart our own destiny, no nothing. All our problems are the fault of others and Rwandans are Gods on Earth whom we must sacrifice our virgins to appease.

For Rich, you brilliantly answer his questions- and then some-, you then manage to unearth is own hypocrisy by using his own words, he clearly took offense to your ability to pierce through the emptiness of his those words, and then has the chutzpah to use a red herring by calling your response one. Unreal.

For them all- and that includes you brother Blaise- discrimination is only possible if it is coded in law. Really, guys? Really? Ok. Got it. My only response to that is please don't ever become lawyers and seek to defend those who are victims of it. Keep your day jobs, guys.

I salute you, Mel. You are willing to dive into a debate that Congolese nationalists really do wish only involved them because, you know, if one is not Congolese they are either a) misinformed b) patronizing c) aiding our enemies d)haven't "lived" the experience of being Congolese and, therefore, are not qualified to debate. But ofcourse, when you disagree with the we-Congolese-are-victims-cuz-everyone-wants-our-minerals-and-will-balkanize-us-to-get-em' theory and you are Congolese you are a traitor.

Continue to be a light in all of the darkness that often pervades this forum, Mel. And thank you for having the courage to ask the tough questions about our inability to deal with a particularly determined ethnic group in our big Congolese family. Our people need healthy debate and we also need friends abroad who recognize our yearning for freedom and real democracy.

As Americans often say, "keep it real", Mel.

Kongo in NYC said...

And to put a finer point on my comment above, it isn't up to Mel or anyone else to justify CT's or M23's grievances or demands.

The plain reality is that M23 has vanquished the Congolese Army and they have earned the right to demand whatever they want.

Thus, Kinshasa has two options a) it can negotiate with the rebels and meet 90% of their demands-no matter how "farcical" they appear b) it can refuse and allow the Congo to descend into open civil war with the so-called "international community" stepping in yet again to govern our nation.

Either way, the regime in Kinshasa is toast and if you care about the Congolese people that's all that matters.

That's the reality and its time to face it.

Onward to Kampala....

Rich said...

Kongo in NYC -

I sincerely thought we'd moved on from our earlier exchange when you said the following, quote, "You are of-course entitled to your opinion... In any event, the ball is now in our "Dear Leader's" court- M23 has, as promised, withdrawn from Goma.".

I would like to stress that I am not here to win an argument or do a propaganda of some kinds if that's of any help!

Thanks,

Rich

blaise said...

@ Kongo in NYC,
I think it's useful to read the full context of an argument before jumping into erroneous conclusion.
English not being my native language, I'm pretty sure I left some ideas out.
What was in contention here and prompted me to address some remarks to Mel was some liberties(in my opinions) she took with Congolese history.
That will be stupid in my part to restrict to the law all acts of discrimination. My understanding was that among other things, Congo was conducting some kind of apartheid driven policies against the CT. Hence the questioning, which laws or policies she was referring to.
I believe I stated clearly in my introduction that I don't know exactly what are the dynamics in the local level(insults,abuses,humiliations,etc) but I know what is the feeling among the ordinary Congolese and it's related to the famous balkanization theory. That what I was trying to convey here. I don't recall any example in history were people associate with foreign powers are kindly treated by those who suffered an invasion and an subsequent occupation.
Everything as to be put into context in order to evaluate the situation and come up with real solution and not band aid.
I will invite you to read carefully the ipis link i posted early and see by yourself what is reality and what is claims.

blaise said...

@ Kongo NYC
I meant "Everything has..."
@ Mel
You should read Jason's book to realize that a lot of things are circumstantial.For example, young men from the CT fought the war in Rwanda in the 90's.Some even fought in the 80 in Uganda.That may explain why they are rebellious. Some studies suggest that reinsertion has to be carefully done because 1 out of 3 former fighter will go back to it's old ways. If all your life you only know fighting,it's a little hard to adapt to civilian life. Now we know that fighter suffer PTSD also. Just think about it, the Katanga's Tigers were rebellious to because they had Angola's backing. It helps to have a foreign military backer behind your rebellion. that what rear based is for.

blaise said...

@ Marieb
thank you for your questions.I see I'm bundled in good company,lol.
I believe some of your questions should be answered in my post to Kongo. Nevertheless, here we go:
1) What is your definition of discrimination?
R/ My definition of discrimination is the same as found in the dictionary :Discrimination is the prejudicial or distinguishing treatment of an individual based on their actual or perceived membership in a certain group or category, such as their race, gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, national origin, or religion. It involves the group's initial reaction or interaction, influencing the individual's actual behavior towards the group or the group leader, restricting members of one group from opportunities or privileges that are available to another group, leading to the exclusion of the individual or entities based on logical or irrational decision making.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Discrimination
2) Have you, in your own person, been the victim of discrimination?
R/Of course.In more than one occasion.Not that much under Mobutu(maybe because I was still in high school)but probably more acute under the AFDL when to gain access to governmental services or good jobs, you have to be a "mina sema"(I'm saying in Swahili)or know somebody who has those entries. I guess it's African networking. And you have the usual treatment when you are a black person abroad. So yes, I know one or two things abt discrimination

3) How is discrimination proven?
R/It's proven by pointed out what is done to others but not you. The basis is the equal treatment principle.
Like I pointed out to our friend Kongo, my question was related to the narrative that was coming out of Mel's rendering of Congo history.

4) How do we Congolese deal with CT's so that they do not feel the need to join rebellions and be used by local warlords supported by Rwanda?
R/ In my understanding,there is a misconception that the CT is an homogeneous group that have the same driven goal. We have to remember that the Kivu are over populate. Every time you have dispute over lands there is not rational that hold. I can intellectually understand the dynamics in place because I lived a similar case were We bought a lot from a Customary chief in Kimpoko (suburb of Kinshasa) to find out later that the same chief resold part of our land to somebody else. I believe I know how it feel to be disposes of your land and can't do a damn thing abt it. I believe I know how local chiefs operate.
How can we help? By assuring that every thing is resolve in a fair and equitable way. I think miss Severine Autesserre alluded to that when she was referring to local barzas if I'm not wrong.
In another hand,the CT community should clearly be on the side of Congo. I believe that's the shift we are witnessing today. We have to put more effort in bridging the differences and countering heinous propaganda which aim is to divide in order to reign
5) Do you believe this crisis is a) entirely the result of Rwanda/foreign meddling to keep Congo weak and have access to mineral wealth b) a symptom of state failure in Congo c) both d) neither?
R/ I think I always try to be clear about my position, maybe sometimes it's lost in translation. You should go back to where everything started (pres Kabila speech in Goma) and check the comments made then.
My belief is that pres Kabila started something he thought he can control with brute force. Rwanda was more than happy to be unhelpful by looking the other way first and jumping into the wagon latter when things get serious. That's my opinion. The way out will be to restore franc dialogue in the States level and among Congolese. It should not be about power sharing but how we go forward from here: governance and accountability.
I hope I wasn't all over the place.

blaise said...

@Marieb
you should reread the comments on those topics.

http://congosiasa.blogspot.com/2012/04/as-fighting-in-kivus-intensifies-deeper.html

http://congosiasa.blogspot.com/2012/04/fears-of-wide-spread-violence-as-bosco.html

http://congosiasa.blogspot.com/2012/04/tensions-escalate-in-kivus.html

Kongo in NYC said...

@ Rich

We have no beef- other than you completely dismissing Mel’s comments for no stated reason other than she’s “patronizing-and I appreciate your response.

@ Blaise

Thanks for your response but, again, it feels more like BS that a reasoned one. As I stated, Mel has answered in full both your and Muana Congo’s questions.

The issue? YOU DO NOT LIKE HER ANSWERS.

Why can’t you both just admit that as opposed to feigning ignorance on the concerns of CT’s, which everybody knows, and M23’s demands which, again, damn near everybody knows???!!

Do you honestly think we are all so dumb that you both don’t know this? As regular commenters on this highly informative blog???!!

But whatever.

You both are entitled to your opinion, but please don’t try to pretend we are all fools that don’t know “history” and peddle our own “narratives”. Everything you and Muana have said continues to read “We poor Congolese. M23 are puppets. CT’s have the same gripes as everyone else and should just shut up. Stop trying to “balkanize” our country big bad West. Blah, Blah, Blah”.

No matter. The beginning of the end for the regime in Kinshasa approaches.

When it falls, please do cheer and rejoice for our long-suffering brothers and sisters in the Congo.

I personally look forward to two things in the next year: the rebels in Syria taking over and a complete and total regime change in my beloved Congo.

I am confident both will occur.

Won't it be wonderful, my friends?

kizza brown said...

kongo in nyc and mel they say when u act like a fool then u called one i said this coz you r wastin your time engaging discussion with this bush ppls like muana congo n the rest who act to knw all congo politics when they dont.ppls like this r the onces makin congo move backwards bt this time things r changin in a different direction kabila has forgotten how he came to power its either he listen or his gone m23 is irreversible with ace card in they hand at point

kizza brown said...

at this point i meant to say sorry for my spellin ppls

Mel said...

I find it rather ironic- and entirely frightening- that you mentioned Syria in your comments, Kongo NYC.

One of my friends at the University here is Syrian, an Alawite and supporter of Bashad. When the protests began last year, we had a discussion about them and I can say that many of the more strident comments directed at my posts on this thread shared some eerie similarities.

Here’s a snippet of an email he sent me:

“These protesters are a sorry bunch. Are they the only ones who take issue with the regime? NO! They are agents of our enemies, mostly Israelis and Sunni’s in Saudi Arabia who covet our oil and seek a hedge against our brothers in Iran. They do not want “democracy” and freedom. They only want Sunni control over Syria but we are one people! They only seek to divide. Their cries are the worst cynicism and the smartest propaganda that hides their evil desires for our country. You Americans always see “freedom” in every protest movement or rebellion when in fact these are smokescreens for our domination by this so-called “international community”. Sunni’s have the same rights and privileges as Shia so why bother with these foolish acts?! Their protests are meaningless and will be ignored by our people. They are just puppets. Baathism will always ensure our nation remains a unified whole, Mel.

And ofcourse, he has only grown more sure of the righteousness of the Bashad regime as Syria has descended into a brutal bloodbath. Suffice to say, he and I haven’t spoken in some time.

I pray everyday that Congo does not descend into the depths of pure and unrelenting barbarism that is convulsing Syria at this moment.

Unlike you, Kongo NYC, I actually think whatever comes from these talks in Kampala will not lead to a lasting peace and political reforms in the Congo. I wish I had more faith in them but, if history is any guide, their will simply be another band aid placed over this wound so that the West can continue to use Rwanda and Uganda- and Kenya these days- to fight “terror”, protect those oil fields in South Sudan, and allow Kinshasa to continue to slowly devour itself and thus ensure it remains weak. Could I be wrong? Sure. Kabila could see the light, drop “mixage” entirely and forever, implement decentralization, engage in land reform, release opponents, ensure good local elections, etc. But all of that requires he more or less agrees to relinquish power either peacefully or by the assassin's gun and, well, I just don’t see him making this choice.

Sorry to be such a debbie downer.

@kizza- love ya "spellin". :)

muana congo said...

@marieB

However we define discrimination, we all understand that it consists in prejudices or injustices mitted out at a group of people based on their characteristic identity. But what is more important is to remark that discrimination is not just a “self-conviction”, a “state of mind” or a “mental representation”. It is a “materially lived experience”. Therefore it can be not so much proven but at least explained, and its modes of expression outlined. Apartheid in South Africa was not a mental representation, its express modes of expression were inter alia pass laws, property and inter-racial laws, blacks were prevented from attending universities, travelling, confined to Bantustans and so on… The same can be said of racial discrimination in USA.

That said one can not deny to the “discriminated” their claim of injustice. Personally I hate idle theories and speculations. I prefer to be pragmatic and solution-oriented. If this conflict is about discrimination against Congolese Tutsis, I genuinely want to know how it works so it can be solved. How give a solution if the problem is not circumscribed?

There is my contention with Mel. She does not ask questions, she makes “axiomatic statements” about discrimination against CT, but fails to explain them or substantiate them with facts. For example she says “Congolese Tutsi’s, by custom, law, and official government policy are discriminated against in their homeland”. Wow, just like that! As an example she says that Congolese Tutsis feel discriminated against because DRCgov is cooperating with ICC only about Tutsis like Bosco Ntanganda. How about JP Bemba, G Katanga or Lubanga, are they Tutsis? You see how amazing Mel and the like are.

The point is, though we all have biases on this conflict, we should have a minimum “probite intellectualle” to at least agree on “simple facts”. If some would say without proof that 1+1!=2, then what is the point of having a conversation, to trade insults?

muanacongo

Gisa Rebero said...

All of the sudden "Tutsi" become the distracting subject, when political negotiations on governance problems in DR Congo open in Kampala. Any one else sees the pattern here?

blaise said...

@Kongo in NYC,
I think what is BS is listening to your own voice talking.If you have facts contradicting what I advanced, i will love to hear them.
In a nutshell : yes, the CT has their grievances. No, the M23 has it's own agenda that have nothing to do with those grievances:
- The Ipis document I posted early brilliantly demonstrate with maps that their objective are different.
- In the North Kivu, the CT are in majority in Masisi not in Rutshuru. #Fact.Who are they protecting since they are not in Masisi?
- The brigade that came from the south Kivu to reinforce the defense of Goma was made up with Banayamulenge and former Cndp. Another #fact

I'm more interested about the behavior of the protagonists then any rhetoric people will serve me,hot or cold.
What happened to the popularity of the CNDP and before it the RCD on the ballot box? Why did Bosco has to force ppl to vote for his candidate? 2006 and 2011 are factual indication of how the people you pretend to represent decided about their fate.
@Mel
I don't think I'm making a judgement of valor here between who is right and who is wrong. I'm just stating a fact abt what ordinary Congolese are thinking when it comes to the CT grievances.Rightly or wrongly is beside the point. The way forward is how those problems can be effectively tackle.Contrary to what the other gentleman stated, I think ppl should vent their grievances but I take exception when it come to the method. So far, we are just seeing the way of the gun.
You should imagine Congo like rural America and the rise of the tea party to grasp the dynamic.
As for Kampala,you pretty much right that there will be nothing out of there as long as pres Kabila keeps his double dealings. I think i repeated it ad nauseum that the problem has never been if Rwanda is supporting #M23 or not but always what Kinshasa will do to consolidate peace.As far as I know, pres Kabila doesn't have a clue abt that and whatever deal that will be sign there, the losers will be the ordinary folks in those kivu's hills.

blaise said...

@ Gisa,
I tjink it was more impromptu than a pattern.You may find this interesting,it looks more and more like a kabuki theatre.The domino effect may prove to be more devastating for all than anticipated : http://thinkafricapress.com/drc/unreported-invisible-frontline-north-kivu

marieB said...

Thank you Blaise & Muana. That helped. Here are some things I still don’t understand from your comments

Muana: if discrimination is a “material lived experience”, I agree with this, and also not easily proven, why disagree so much with Mel’s argument? Do you not like her answer and history about citizenship? These facts, yes? For CT’s a “materially lived experiences”, yes? What then is problem?

Blaise: I naturally skeptic I guess. I see “balkanization theory” like I see calls for “democracy” from so-called “international community”. Both appear like propaganda- one from Congo nationalists which our people believe without questioning or proof and one from rich countries who just want market access. But you support this theory, yes? Well, this conflict is causing a slow down in mineral trade and economy in Goma. Aid cutoffs doing same thing If Rwanda and Uganda in it for money and minerals, why make getting both harder with civil conflict in region?

blaise said...

@marieB,
What do you mean by me supporting the balkanization theory?
"Balkanization theory" is before anything else a theory.It can be true or it's just in people imaginary.
Regardless which positions you are taking,it's affect communities in the region way of interacting with each other.
As far as I'm concerned, it's among other theories like the return of king Kigeri 5 from dc to kigali.
As i stated before, I'm more interested about people behaviors than what they profess. Take the example of Mai mai, do you think that they will be that bold if they didn't believe in their jujus? That what the balkanization theory is. When you talk about Congo,don't think about your classmates from Bosengo or mama lueka but think of those who never set foot in a town. We are still a rural country and people believe in what they perceive to be the truth:"Congo is rich,everybody want a piece of it hence the balkanization idea"
This idea is people psyche like urban legends are in the Us.
All politicians are doing is putting together unrelated events and conspiracies theories to push their agenda.
so when you hear Herman Cohen saying that Kivu belongs to Rwanda,you take notice. Furthermore, when you learn that Rwanda's minaffet misses Louise Mushikiwabo,who is married to an american citizen, is organizing privates meeting with diplomats and show them an old map of king Rwabugiri, you notice. I call them interesting pattern.
Do I think there is a balkanization in the way? not at all. But do people in the region believe otherwise?probably.
I don't count,I'm not there.They count and act on what they believe is the reality for them.
The last link I posted to @Gisa just illustrate what is happening in Beni.
The Ipis link I provided earlier tell you a different story than what the #M23 is calling for.
The different posts I provide earlier will tell you in length what my positions were, are and probably will be unless things change.
One more link, that what somebody in Goma thinks.
http://www.guardian.co.uk/global-development/audioslideshow/2012/nov/28/congo-drc-humanitarian-goma-audio-slideshow?intcmp=122
I've been trying to follow on twitter ppl from all those countries involved to have a feel of what will happened next.
I hope I was as clear as possible. I always welcome feed backs as long they are not baseless ad hominem attacks.



muana congo said...

@marieB

(1)
The confirmation of the citizenship for CT might have been an eventful process as the timeline shows, but we are talking about HERE and NOW. I may be wrong but the status quo is that the citizenship of CTs is NOT contested in law or otherwise in DRC. I am aware of local inter-community feuds in the Kivus as they exist in many places in DRC. Do you know that to this day there are fellows in the USA (mostly Southerners) who deny American citizenship to African-Americans? It may seem surreal but similar cases abound in France (arabs and subsaharans), Germany (turks), not to forget UK (with its past imperial demographic resultant of Asian and African citizens).

Here is the question: does acquiring citizenship “which they incontestably already have” warrant this violence and this human suffering by CTs or rather M23? Or is this senseless violence about something else?

Maybe the Kampala gimmick will reveal to all what the demands of M23 and CT (since people on this blog say that M23 represent them) are. So we can attend to them.

(2)
About the balkanization issue. Is it a conspiracy theory or rather a well established sinister active advocation? I for one am not moved by either. Individuals, be they Herman Cohen and co., think they control HISTORY, they usually don’t. But peoples do. Conspiracies are beautiful things because they can’t be confirmed nor denied. People therefore work with what they see and hear. DRC is a creation of Berlin 1885, but so is Rwanda, Nigeria, South Africa, Kenya and every single African country.

To just compare DRC to Balkan nations and others. Is there any identifiable nation in DR Congo out of those 400+ tribes? Well, that would be very small indeed. All these provinces of Kivu, Katanga, Kasai or Equateur are just geographical coincidences. They have never existed without Congo. Today none forms a defined entity. What I means is unlike Serbes, Croatians, Slovaks, Bosnians… or even Walloon-Flemish, Basques, Catalans, Irish, South Sudanese, Kurds. There is no cultural, religious or political characteristics that “identify” Kivutians, Katangais, or Kasains or any one else.

You see it is so comfortable to some firing away emails and blog posts from a posh Manhattan flat or a lofty Miami beach. But to some of us the tragegy happening in the Kivus is personal. These are not statistics. These our people, cousins and nephews. What we want is the end and its resolution.

Take care

muanacongo

Mel said...

Are folks starting to feel like we are beating this thread to death? LOL. I think its time for another post.

Jason?

Anyway, really DEEP piece by Bloomberg's Kavanaugh about Dan Gertler, his clearly tight personal relationship with Kabila (which I wish he would have explored more deeply), and all those truly shady deals.

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-12-05/gertler-earns-billions-as-mine-deals-leave-congo-poorest.html

I'm not sure how others feel but whenever I read about these deals I always come away thinking why there is not a law in the Congo that bans any owner of any resource concession from transferring its ownership to a non-Congolese based registered company? Well, I do know why- corruption- but I'm fairly confident that Congolese citizens wouldn't be able to ascertain who owns what without something this, right?

Its just crazy:

- The Congolese government transfers concessions to its state-owned companies.
- The state owned companies than strike joint ventures to produce with local and foreign based companies AND distribution ventures with local and foreign based companies.
- The foreign based companies are, more often than not, themselves subsidiaries of, or in partnership with, other companies.
- The "mother" companies then form shell companies in opaque tax shelters like the British Virgin Islands or Gibraltar.
- Through this all, the underlying asset- the concession- is traded within and between companies, and companies of companies, and companies of companies of companies who are joint venture partners, and often is never even put into production.

Gracious, it is no wonder corruption is so easy in such a system. Its like house flipping on steroids!

Honestly, I say require concessions to be bought and sold by ONLY domestically-registered companies and through a public auction to increase transparency.

This is just unreal.

Mel

Mel said...

Sorry, I meant "bought or sold by, or a joint venture with, ONLY domestically-registered companies.."

Leaving out joint-ventures would open up a loophole.

Kongo in NYC said...

HA! Bring transparency to Congo’s resource deals? With this regime? I doubt it, Mel. Though, to his credit, PM Matata does have some good ideas on how to do so- many along the ideas you are suggesting-but fundamentally lacks the power base to enact them.

Now, placing aside the “public auction” part of your idea, there is still room for double-dealing in your approach.

Example:

Nasty international investor and her buddies pony up $50 million to purchase a gold mining license (GML) and start We Really Do Like the Congolese Mining LLP (WRDLCM) - a limited liability company. They take a 60% stake with Gecamines owning the other 40%. Not knowing a damn thing about mining, they need, well, a miner to get the thing operating. They strike a production and profit sharing deal with, say, Brazil’s Rio Tinto. To do so, they create a Congolese corporation, We Are About to Flip This Bi$#%H Corp (WAATFLTB), that is a subsidiary of WRDLCM LLP. So, the partnership owns the corporation which owns the concession- quite a bit like how Mitt Romney made- and hid- his millions as a partner in Bain Capital LLP. Well, being this is Congo, and our wonderful leaders in Kinshasa are pretty much required to keep greasing the wheels to stay in power, they stall, delay, and generally frustrate their partner, Rio Tinto, waiting for the moment until some Kabila hanger on demands to get paid. No, let me be more generous: there is a currency crisis and DeptFin needs the hard cash. Whatever the reason, Gecamines seeks a buyer for its shares. Now, around this time, WRDLCM LLP opens a tax shelter in the Cayman Islands. Your “law”, Mel, says nothing about doing so. This new demand from Gecamines raises the value of the underlying asset- the concession-and its derivatives- the partnership stakes and shares. Rio Tinto, wishing full control, agrees to buy the Gecamines stake for $125 million. Rio then agrees to buy the rest of the shares in WAATFLTB Corp for $185 million. Now, remember the tax shelter WRDLCM LLP owns? Because it exists, the $185 million completely bypasses Congolese authorities because the sale, by accounting standards, was booked to the now defunct corporation and thus the proceeds are “passed through” to the partnership whose account is far, far, far, away from the Congolese treasury in the lovely Caymans.

Nasty international investor and her buddies not only earn over 3 X their investment without producing a SINGLE GRAM OF GOLD but also manage to completely avoid Congolese tax authorities and thus fleece the Congolese people of the wealth of our nation.

So, while we likely won’t be able to avoid “concession flipping” in the Congo, we can require public transactions for the buying and selling of all concessions- like auctions- and perhaps ban tax shelters. Though, given the Congolese really like capitalism, I doubt a tax shelter ban would occur either.

blaise said...

@Mel,
PM Matata has been under fire because he is pairing State's pay with the banking system and mobile money. He is a little inexperienced although he has some good ideas.
Unfortunately, his government is impaired by his own boss. The presidency controls the revenues/deals from the mine industry, petrol and logging. That may explain why they had an hard time to publish those contract. UK MP Joyce investigated extensively on the matter.
I found this link interesting although I believe the author drifted in one point into conspiracy theory.
http://towardfreedom.com/home/content/view/1171/1/

Mel said...

@ Kongo NYC

You must be a tax accountant or attorney. LOL. Yes, tax shelters are indeed a key means that rapacious capitalists/rogue leaders/corporations hide, or shift, their earnings. And yes, I seriously doubt their is will in Kinshasa to make resource concessions more transparent- as this IMF business clearly shows. Honestly, my biggest problem with Kavanaugh well-researched piece is Gertler's belief that his double dealing is a kind of charity because so many investors refuse to invest in DRC. The man is a megalomaniac and should be called out as being so in my humble opinion. As rapper Eminem once opined about Bush, he has "empowered a monster".

@Blaise

Yeah, I heard about Matata's efforts at paying folks via direct deposit. I like Matata alot and I hope he's building the political base among reformers in the Congo- and their are reformers-in his time as Prime Minister. That doesn't mean he will survive but, if he plays his cards right, he just might and that would be good for the Congolese. I have the deepest respect for him and Vital. Both are super smart and appear to be men of integrity.

Thanks for the link. You posted it earlier and I perused some of the other articles on the site about the Congo. In my view, in the absence of transparency about political or economic affairs, I've longed believed conspiracy theories have their place. I have actually entertained a few relating to 9-11 primarily because the official record, well, has a few gaps. No, that doesn't mean I actually believe neo-cons/Bush are responsible for the attacks but, again, there are some concerns with the official rendering of what occurred before, during, and after that horrible day.

Anyway, I hear Goma is back to "normal". There have even been some protests in the city. Its really good news though, I know, still not enough.

I'm going back and forth about the upcoming "peace" talks. I guess I'm a cynic at this point but it would be great to get more information about them, who's really going and who isn't, the various demands on the table, what other opposition groups/civil society think about them (UDPS is apparently opposed to them), etc., so I could have more faith. I just feel this is an effort to buy time to re-arm/position and, alongside that, jostle for power within the various centers of it.

Does anyone have any info to share about the negotiations?

Also, I'm growing more curious about Kigali. Perhaps this is all conspiracy theory but I wonder if Kagame, in his increasing lame duck status, is try to appease his hawks as a means of slowing releasing his grip on power? I just keep trying to figure out Kigali's real motives here and why they are "done" with Kinshasa. The idea that its all about the minerals, while super dead on in most respects, I think ignores potential tension in the Kigali inner circle.

What, really, is behind Kigali's intentions with this rebellion? Like, really?

Mel

muana congo said...

Even if I should be unwelcome I choose to invite myself anyway. Deal with it.

About Transparency in the extractive industry in DRC:

Well, I don’t know why the issue is always “partially” approached. For starters, JK and his government have spent their time counting coltan-gold-copper-diamond-oil money than attending to pressing issues or strategizing about the aggression in the Kivus. Always, aloof, surprised, unprepared and ineffective for combat.

Applying Rothschild’s motto that “money is made where blood is flowing”, the Israeli-jew Dan Getler has used “chaos theory” obscenely in DRC. He has sucked dry the poorest of the poorest in DRC by bankrupting Miba in Kasai (diamond), Gecamines (cobalt + copper) in Katanga and Ituri oil. Is it why silence is king and chaos is willed on the DRC and any effort for peace is nipped in the bud at US State Department or UN? Is it why a blood-stained maniac like Kagame is routinely invited to WEF and at Rothschild heir’s meeting in London? Conspiracy theorish: “keep DRC in chaos so minerals can be extracted for through Rwanda”

But also, unquestionable NGOs like Transparency Int’l have strongly advocated plain transparency in the extractive industry in Africa. But it has been not African countries, but Western companies who usually evoke “contract confidentiality” to hide their corrupt ways. Not just in DRC, but Angola. South Africa, Nigeria and so on.

In bigger African perspective, DRC (a mere couple of $billions) would pale in face of $ hundred of billions int’l corruption in Nigeria (Halliburton and Shell crooks, they have accepted to pay fines for their criminal activities there) or South Africa arms deal (with UK’s BAE or France’s Thales). Short space to go to other African countries that are preyed upon by the int’l vultures.

So don’t worry about countries that have no “mineral resources” like Rwanda and claim to be corruption free. Where will corruption happen? In the hills? Show me a resource-rich country that is corruption-free, and I will give you serious corruption pending cases.

Here is "my solution" to DRC extractive industry intolerable corruption:

(1)Let’s stop play games like assets freeze or travel bans for M23 leaders. Come on, do Makenga or Runiga have homes in USA, do they intend to go there? It is Joseph Kabila and Kagame entourage that should face these measures.

(2)Dodd-Franck act should be enforced without delay (sad that SEC … Shapiro had to leave). It is only crooks who are fighting it in Washington.

(3)Rwanda does not produce gold or coltan. How come it has become a larger exporter of these minerals from DRC? Let’s ban any gold and coltan export from non-producing Rwanda. Lives will be saved in the Kivus.

muanacongo

muana congo said...

Sorry, i meant Mary Shapiro former US Stock Exchange Commission head under whose tenure the Dodd-Franck was enacted.

Too close to Wall Street vultures, she was always ambiguous about its application, Some say jettisoned it. But i also remember her paying lip service to it.

The point is the Dodd-Franck act will save lives in DRC.Dont listen to coltan and gold traders.


Like Senator Obama's DRC Relief, Security, and Democracy Promotion Act. What happen since then President Obama?

muanacongo

Kongo in NYC said...

@ Mel- I am indeed an tax attorney. Nice guess.

@ Blaise- Point taken.

@ Muana- Brilliant post. In total agreement with it all- cept Shapiro. I was part of a delegation of Congolese Americans, many of whom are bankers/lawyers in Boston and New York, and while she agreed with Sec 1502 she continued to feel implementation would be a bitch. And, to a degree, she is correct. New Senator Warren, however, is a big supporter of Sec 1502 (and the whole bill clearly) and Boston friends say she will push hard to ensure its implementation- which mostly means funding resources for SEC to do the implementing.

@marieb- I also view the “balkanization theory” as a canard pushed by elites in Kinshasa. Our people are mostly peasants with little to no education so this theory passes as a kind of ideology to whip up nationalist feeling since god knows we find no glory in our leaders. Balkanization is a religion- something to have faith in but completely void of reason or empirically demonstrated evidence.

It is also, like most propaganda, a study of stupidity. M23 and others are not calling for breaking up the Congo into separate states with their own army, laws, courts, taxation systems, police, border patrol, currency, etc. That would, quite frankly, be very dumb and everyone knows it. Are their elements in Rwanda that seek a “greater Rwanda?”. Sure, but there are elements of the Obama Administration that want open war with Iran and, at this point, this isn’t official policy towards Iran. They are calling for federalism which is clearly expressed in the 2nd Republic’s constitution. M23 wants continued military control over the East- ie, no more “mixage” and efforts to drop the “parallel chain of command”- but what they figured out over the period between March 23rd 2009 and the beginning of the mutiny is that there must be political reform to ensure this control. Kinshasa runs a mafia, not a government, and as such simply seeks ever more power so as to dispense ever more patronage. Federalism is not decentralization. The latter is a devolving of power from the center out and the latter is dividing power between the center and a provincial center- so sharing power equally.

In any event, I too am anxiously looking forward to the negotiations. I have different questions about them though:

* Will they be open to the public, ie press?
* Will Congolese civil society actually be part of Kinshasa’s negotiating team?
* Will certain parameters be set on the onset by the Ugandan mediators- as in, will there be a clear deadline to the conclusion of negotiations and clearer reprimands if both sides do not reach an agreement?
* What is the ICGLR, SADC, and the AU prepared to do to support any deal?

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blaise said...

@Kongo in NYC,
no problem.I'm trying not 2 make it 2 personal.We are constantly learning.

That say, I have some reserves about federalism at this point.For 2 reasons:
- it raise unnecessary fears about partition
- we are still in the "institutions building" stage.
One of the problem that is hampering the creation of the 26 provinces is that some entities just don't have the infrastructures and personal to make it work.
In the contrary, I will advocate for the actual decentralization system(maybe with some new powers for the provinces) as a transitional phase before reaching federalism.
A look around the world show that federalism in a big entity like Congo require a lot of maturity from it's animators.
I see that Dodd-franck has been mixed in the convos. From,locals on the ground,this law is the worse thing that have happened to them beside the war. The last GoE letter attested how the law is not effective.

As for the Kampala summit, the government went with some senators and deputies. They were supposed 2 bring the Civil society as observers, bared from intervening(that's telling).
The opposition is refusing to grow up and shrouded themselves in some dubious juridicism: not being part in a first "contract".
The M23 is late. They were sending junior officials (since pres Kabila won't be there) but they have been advice by their members from the diaspora to send the A team so they won't be bullied.
I personally don't see the sense of those negotiations since :
- it's not inclusive
- it create a bad incentive for other militias groups 2 emulate the M23
The government doesn't have a comprehensive and realistic plan to secure the region. The way they speak in public doesn't augur a good outcome as far as peace is concern in the Kivus.

blaise said...

Rwanda and Uganda already achieve their main goal: positioning troops inside the DRC to shield them from future attacks(Fdlr/Adf). 10 countries of the ICGLR agreed 2 send troops in DRC, including Rwanda and Uganda. for Rwanda, it will have this accrue advantage to have assets on the ground 2 carry target assassinations as it's in the case in other EAC members states. It's rumored that RDF special forces infiltrated Mai mai Cheka to carry the assassination of a Fdlr Commander.
Here is some perspective of pres Museveni's mindset
http://thinkafricapress.com/uganda/museveni-foreign-policy-chess-game-drc-rwanda-m23
It's also important to noticed that he dispatched some of his generals out of the country(1 was serving in Somalia and the other was chief of staff) while promoting one of his body guard as brigadier.
that's remind me the sudden reshuffled that occurred in the RDF shortly after the M23 mutiny started. I don't believe in coincidences.

http://wimw-Bachmann.blogspot.com said...

Thanks to all of you for the enlightening comments.

Congo NYC, I think your assessment of the balkanization propaganda as such is right, especially as the term is used in a wrong way as I suggested earlier. However, why is this so deeply ingrained an idea? I think I remember that the headline of every issue of the newspaper “Le Potentiel” carried the line “Contre la balkanisation du Congo” or something to that effect. Is that still the case or do I remember wrongly?

If it was true, I could fathom why this newspaper still carries the name “Potential”, which I find a rather depressive summary of five decades of DRC history. Hopefully it will be called “Le Résultat” one day.

As regards your questions – or should we say invitation to wild speculation – on the negotiations in Kampala, here is my two pence:

* Will they be open to the public, ie press?
- No way.

* Will Congolese civil society actually be part of Kinshasa’s negotiating team?
- Well, Blaise answered this point already.

* Will certain parameters be set on the onset by the Ugandan mediators- as in, will there be a clear deadline to the conclusion of negotiations and clearer reprimands if both sides do not reach an agreement?

- There will probably a playing for time until Uganda has to pass the presidency of ICGLR to Denis Sassou-Nguesso. He has been traveling back and forth between Kin and Kigali, and he is everybody’s darling since. Given the accusations against Uganda, he might even advance the negotiations. Regarding the time table…there should be two weeks in a five star hotel to discuss the order of business, and another two weeks to mock negotiations, even if everyone knows that they collapsed on day one. However, with the urgency of the matter given in this case I could imagine that the delegations’ per diem degrades to a secondary issue, and we will have some official statements by 15 December.

* What is the ICGLR, SADC, and the AU prepared to do to support any deal?

- Depends on the deal, doesn’t it – but allow for a counter question, please: where is the Security Council of the CEEAC (Copax) in all that reckoning? CEEAC is the only African Regional Economic Organisation that fields an on-going military peace support operation. In addition, it has declared in summer 2011 a whole brigade of 5.000 odd men of the African Standby Force as operational. Wouldn’t it make sense to refer back to CEEAC as its forces are mostly francophone, and do have some valuable experience in implementing peace agreements?

Cheers

Mel said...

Interesting points, Bachman.blogspot (??).

I think something I'm interested in is what, ultimately, are Kabila's positions and concessions?

Just seems to me that Kabila keeps having to make these deals with armed groups that, inevitably, lead to both future rebellions and more armed groups.

So is the idea just to keep doing the same thing? I guess I just keep hoping he's going to pull something different and new out of his bag of tricks besides "ok, so what positions do y'all want and where do you want to serve?".

If that's both the opening and closing gambit then, as Blaise rightly suggests, we will continue to circle the wagons with armed groups- be it M23 or some other Mai Mai group.

Am I being an optimist? Does Kabila have something more visionary to offer the rebels that doesn't lead to another rebellion in 2016?

Mel

Gisa Rebero said...

@muana congo@December 6, 2012 12:03 PM said : "...So don’t worry about countries that have no “mineral resources” like Rwanda and claim to be corruption free. Where will corruption happen? In the hills? Show me a resource-rich country that is corruption-free, and I will give you serious corruption pending cases."
Have you actually read the CPI(Corruption Perceptions Index)2012? Your understanding of causality between corruption and minerals is not objective.
I think public governance is closely related to the prevalence of corruption; whether a country has minerals or not, isn't a big deal.
Compare the CPI 2012 and failed states index 2012.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_Failed_States_Index

files.transparency.org/content/download/533/2213/file/2012_CPI_DataPackage.zip

In Rwanda a minister was sacked and prosecuted in July for an alleged 4,000Us$ bribe. It doesn't have to be billions Us$ to be corruption.
http://www.ghanamma.com/2012/07/rwanda-local-govt-permanent-secretary-arrested/

Policemen, administrative civil servants and Customs agents are the one contributing much in the "perception" of corruption in a particular country.That is why many African countries are trailing in the list. It doesn't necessary mean we are the most corrupt but we are still witnessing corruption in Africa as it was done 2000 years ago by the Romans.
Transparency methodology does not expose high level and sophisticated corruption as applied in Wall street, the City and other capital markets places.

As for the billionaire guy, I think he did what his family and his country expect from him: " Excellence when executing your responsibilities". Dan's duty consists of making as much profit as he can,without breaking any law in his homeland. The other party involved in all those deals is to blame for not doing what they are paid for, namely preserving public interests.
Given the same opportunities, few may claim to do it differently. I always dream of being a billionaire(in Us$) before I am 35. That story gave me some clue.

muana congo said...


@Gisa Rebero

Believe it or not, “in principle” I can only agree with the tenets of your argument about the generality of enablers of corruption. But you can’t deny the corrupt nature of the extractive industry in Africa and the developing world. You can’t disproof the correlation between abundance of resources and corruption especially in weak, aid seeking developing countries. So until Kagame’s Rwanda has abundant natural resources, it can’t prove how it would work against this well established obscene system. Know that even countries that are better and democratically run like Botswana or Ghana have an opaque, monopolistic and corrupt extractive industries, where respectively British AngloAmerican and AngloAshanti effectively own these economies. And the elite receive int’l patronage as usual.

The truth is, the corrupt int’l mining companies stick mordicus to the corrupt status quo and oppose any attempt for fairness for Africans in the extractive industry. Disclosure of contracts as advocated by Transparency Int’l and accepted by African countries is a “dirty word” for them.The system is such that they almost pay no royalties (risk premium excuse); they under declare their profits, and so pay ridiculous taxes if any, which are nothing compared to what they would in Australia or Canada. Cases are just too many in Africa, but Glencore (copper) in Zambia or Areva (uranium) in Mali are typical.

It would sound like JK’s apology if we considered the mitigating context that led to the rise of opportunists like Dan Gertler and others in DRC. All forget, or hide, the fact that DRC was IMF-WB $ 15bil debt ridden, broke, isolated. These vultures were then able to impose their conditions for the little they provided. Besides other things, why is JK reviled, is it not because his government reviewed mining contracts (unheard of Africa), or that he sought to upset monopolies by bringing in Chinese?

Finally, you are so right to say that “Dan gertler, he did what his family and his country expect from him”. It seems like the Israeli-Jews are spurred with impunity to make money out of the blood of Africans. It can’t be a coincidence that behind bloody wars in Africa there is an Israeli-Jew. We know the Oppenheimer family in Apartheid South Africa (De Beers, AngloAmerican, Mondi…), Mark Rich (Bill Clinton sponsor late hour pardoned) who sold illegally arms to South Africa, or Angola war businessman Russian_Israeli Arcadi Gaydamak, or in Sierra Leone-Liberia conflict with he who put Charles Taylor in power Herman Cohen and the friend Gus Kouwenhoven. Whenever they pursued in justice, they run to Isreal for cover.

Once you become a billionaire, plz contact me. I want to be a billionaire too. LOL.

muanacongo

blaise said...

An interesting contribution by Foreign Policy,highlighting what is lacking in the actual peace process.
http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2012/12/07/the_7_deadly_sins_of_congos_peace_process?page=0,0

http://wimw-Bachmann.blogspot.com said...

btw... there may still be some people in the DRC who are fed-up being ruled by their official government...no matter their patriotic feelings or cultural affinities. As I said before, secession is a political decision nowadays (21st century as opposed to the 19th century), and more often than not it is based on rational reasoning rather than on sentiment (Somaliland, Lakota Nation, Catalunya).

Look at this short report, and try to explain why the inhabitants of Minova should trust the government aka regime after contact with its uniformed representatives, please

http://www.enca.com/videos/congolese-soldiers-accused-allegedly-raping-village-women

A conceptual distinction between "the state" and "a regime" is nowhere being made, not on the ground, let alone by the international community.

However, these are two completely different models, and it is about time to check whether we talk of the Congo as a state or as a country in the hands of a regime. There are both opinions being aired in this forum, but the difference is never clearly pointed out.

A next step could be to check whether the government - or regime - is willing and able to delegate power in order to create a state. The negotiations with m23 may be indicative for this, no matter what we think about M23.

If the government/regime does not show a meaningful political will to abandon the patrimonial system for an institutionalized system, people will recognize it as a regime unrelated to their political needs and aspirations, and they will eventually start thinking about alternative routes to having a state.

It is highly likely that such an alternative route would bypass Kinshasa, no matter what the international community and its clients would prefer - for the simple reason that Kinshasa (as a pseudonym for an alien/colonial regime) embodies the principal obstacle to the erection of (a) viable state structure(s) on the territory currently called the DRC.

Whatever Congolese go for, all the best to all of them, and to all of the expatriates living there

Kongo in NYC said...

Thanks, Blaise and www.bachman.blogspot, for your respective links.

Its my thinking that the Congolese people see themselves as a people and, as in all nations, this stems from a shared understanding of our history, a shared language that is a polygot of all our tongues(Lingala), a deeply sensual yet at turns melancholic music (soukous), and a love/hate relationship with our large, bountiful land.

Simply, we are a nation.

I would argue that we are indeed a nation that is being colonized by a regime which itself is a client of the regime in Kigali and Kampala whom are themselves clients of the international community.

One could call it being colonized three times removed. :)

It is for this reason that I believe that the nation will-either through this latest crisis, a more radicalized church (Catholic and Evangelical), the growing access to unfettered information by mobile internet, or all of this combined-figure out a means to fashion a state that can actually protect and serve our nation.

History has a way of collectively finding someone or someones who collectively say "Enough" and who seek a reordering of the ancien regime.

I have no idea what this reordering will look like or what form it will take but it is my strongest belief that it is approaching.

And one needs an awakened consciousness to apply the will necessary to create a State.

Mel said...

I'm getting confused with the media reports of late.

It appears that the Tanzanians will make up the bulk of a neutral force and will deploy very soon in Goma and its environs.

But does this mean we will have two different mandates in the area? SADC and the UN?

Given Museveni's take down of the UN forces the other day- the whole "military tourist" comment- its clear that he and Kagame really just want an effective police force in the region to protect people and search out and destroy all rebel armed groups.

This makes sense to me.

But is it legal to have two different neutral forces patrolling the same area? Has the UN Security Council agreed to this?

I'm totally confused.

Mel

June Sina said...

@Mel.True theres a lot confusion bse DRC which should be providing a solution is confused itself.Thy have decided to take the back sit and let outsiders find a solution to their problems.Believe me no man can put the other mans house in order than himself.

Kongo in NYC said...

@Mel

Not sure if this helps and I realize you are "bad at social media" but, as Blaise suggested upthread, highly suggest you either join or follow Twitter.

In particular, follow a Reuters Videojournalist named Justin Ziras who tweeted the opening of the DRC/M23 negotiations today in Kampala- where, I assume, he is based.

Here's how:

A) Join twitter: go to www.twitter.com and create a real simple profile. Then, where you see "Discover", type in various "hashtags"- which are search terms in Twitter-speak- related to this effort. Terms like "#M23", "#DRC", "#Congo", etc. You will notice certain people posting on the subject. Click on their name and "follow" them. You can follow Justin by going to his profile: https://twitter.com/JZiras.

B) Or, if you have a cellphone, you can actually get tweets as texts from certain folks on Twitter who "do" Congo, as it were. :) To do so, text the number 40404 and enter text "follow xyz". So, if you want to follow Justin, enter 40404 and follow jziras.

If the latest news on negotiations is what you want, I suggest the following Tweeters:

1) This blog's author: @jasonkstearns
2) Justin (Ugandan journalist)
3) Digital Djeli: ‏@digitaldjeli
4) Melanie Gouby: @Melaniegouby
5) Johnny Hogg: @jonnyhogg1
6) Howard French: ‏ @hofrench
7) Daniel Howden: @howden_africa
8) Angelo Izama: @Opiaiya (Ugandan journalist)

For more Tweeters who tweet on Congo regularly just take a look at who THEY follow and then follow them. Folks who tweet on Congo seem to mostly be academics (Jason, Laura Seay, Mvemba Dizole), journalists stationed in the region (Melanie Gouby, Johnny Hogg, Justin, etc), and activists like ourselves.

I personally highly recommend following the journalists. They know the region well and tend to write objectively and competently on the Congo- hard to do given all the emotions/propaganda swirling around these days. I tend not to follow the academics and activists primarily because tweets from both tend to be binary (people who love/have no issue with Rwanda vs people who hate Rwanda) or ill-informed on this issue.
I know this doesn’t get to your question about the different forces/mandates but I’m sure if you follow these folks a picture will start to come into view. From what I can gather from @JZiras the opening talks are a) framework discussions- so discussing what will actually be discussed in the negotiations b) predictably confusing and accusatory.

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georges iyamuremye said...

we are tired with unlimited talks. can the government and M23 reduce the suffering for eastern congo by finf compromises in their demands! I realy doute if kampala talks will give good out come to congolese. because with a corrupt government which wants to stick on power and M23 movement which is not autonomous always acting as proxis of their foreigner godfather. congolese, lets be serious with ourselves..

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Richard Lion said...

@ MwanaCongo
It is contrived to say that you have never been told the root causes of the violence in the Kivus!!!
They are very simple & have never been a secret! Here are some straight forward ones:
1. Rwanda wants to feel safe vis-a-vis the FDLR (Genocidaires) whom Congo & the UN have miserably failed to disarm!
2. The Rwandophones/Tutsi Congolese want to feel safe and equal citizens.
3. Uganda wants to feel safe against ADF rebels who use DRC as a staging ground.
4. M23 want the March 23, 2009 agreement implemented.
Lets start with those - even a simple one like disarming the FDLR would be a start!Shouldn't be too dissicult for 17,000 UN Blue helmets & a well armed FARDC! Look at waht Uganda has achieved with 6,000 troops in Somalia!

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