The Southern African Development Community (SADC) has finally decided to deploy military forces in the troubled city of Goma in the Kivu province. Banking its hope on the recent successful mission in Somalia, where United Nations peace keeping forces failed abysmally, SADC and the Great Lakes region leaders have decided to deploy military forces to stop and where necessary battle the M23 rebels.
Though Somalia and the Democratic Republic of Congo differ sharply in terms of history, geographical locations as well as the nature of the conflicts, still our leaders from the Great Lakes region and SADC are convinced that military forces should be deployed in Kivu province in order to restore peace and security in the area.
Since the UN’s most expensive peace keeping army with 17,000 soldiers has totally failed to bring peace in the troubled DRC then our leaders have decided to apply the Somalia magic in the war-ravaged Central African nation. Very soon we shall have two different peace keeping forces in DRC, just to fight M23 rebels who have pulled out of the city of Goma pending the outcome of Kampala peace talks.
However, as SADC and Great Lakes region eye the military option, we strongly believe that a fully committed peace negotiations would provide the best solution to end the crisis in Congo’s Kivu province. Since both parties are willing to negotiate, then the Kampala peace initiatives should serve as the best option to bring a lasting solution in DRC.
In a world full of double standards, where in Libya, Syria and Egypt the legitimate regimes have been removed, the western nations including the UN decided openly to back rebels, but in DRC, we are seeing the opposite — a true demonstration of hypocrisy of the international community. In a world where the barrel of the gun has failed in places like Iraq, Afghanistan, DRC and elsewhere, it’s an expensive adventure to believe that military action is the option to bring peace among the warring factions.
It’s also a shame to skip the reality and the source of Congo’s conflict and jump into an adventure of deploying another military force in Kivu Province. Congo’s problems can only be resolved through serious peace talks, not tactics and cheap games of cat and mouse. Africa and the world still have a chance to make the Kampala peace talks bring about a lasting solution to the current crisis between M23 and Kinshasa regime.
At the same time, Africa and the rest of the world should also find an answer on why there are more rebel factions in DRC than anywhere else in the world. Are all these factions armed by Rwanda and Uganda as claimed? For instance, while SADC and Great Lakes region are willing to deploy military forces to fight M23, not a single initiative has been taken by the very same leaders to eliminated the Forum for Democratic Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) and many more.
As long as DRC continues to allow its territory to be used as a training and coordination stronghold for various rebel factions, which some have the mission to overthrow the legitimate regimes in neighbouring countries the war-torn central African nation will not achieve peace at any cost. The world should help DRC to eliminate all these rebel factions, if it’s really committed in building a prosperous Congo for the Congolese. Today, there are more rebel factions in DRC than there used to be during dictator Mobutu’s era.
Apart from the Kampala peace talks, SADC, the Africa Union and United Nations would have jointly launched a mission to eliminate rebel factions in DRC, which apart from causing insecurity and instability in Congo, are also threatening the neighbouring countries like Uganda and Rwanda. Rebel factions like the Lords’ Resistance Army (LRA) and FDLR are more dangerous because during the past few decades they have caused more human tragedies than even the M23.
In Rwanda, FDLR, which is the byproduct or remnant of brutal Hutu regime, participated in the killings of about 1 million people during the 1994 genocide. But, today, the FDLR have turned Congo into their stronghold, terrorizing people while planning to return to their country, Rwanda, one day.
In Northern Uganda, LRA has mutilated, raped and killed thousands of people during the past two and half decades. Today, it’s believed that the LRA’s leader is in Congo, making millions of dollars through poaching and timber supply. There are still more rebel factions operating freely in DRC and all of them should be eliminated if the international community really wants secured and a stable Congo.
It’s therefore puzzling to see that SADC and Great Lakes region are ready to fight M23, but cannot do the same for other rebel factions like FDLR, LRA and many more, which are based in the Democratic Republic of Congo. They may end M23 as an organization, but will not end the ideas behind these endless wars because tomorrow another rebel faction will emerge again in the very same country.