Monday, 3 December 2012

DR-CONGO:'' Stalemate'':The Farcical M23 withdrawal and Joseph Kabila

On Saturday, Rwanda and Uganda backed M23 rebels have temporarily withdrawn from the city of Goma in the eastern Dr-Congo. The Rwanda-backed M23 rebels seized Goma on November 20th after United Nations peacekeepers gave up the battle for the frontier city of one million people, which is the capital of North Kivu province.

There are also credible reports that Rwanda backed M23 rebels have stolen over US$50 million from the city's branch of the Banque Centrale du Congo ( Congolese Central Bank) and ammunition, weapons, missiles from the Congolese's army base in Goma.


Several elements indicate that the M23 withdrawal might just be tentative, since they have just pulled out 20 kilometers from Goma city. The military commander of M23 rebels echoed that possibility when he said that they now want to negotiate with the government in Kinshasa within two days if their conditions are not met, they will come back.

The M23 rebels previously claimed that they will withdraw from Goma only if Joseph kabila, the Dr-congo's president, held national talks, released political prisoners and dissolved the electoral commission, a body accused by western powers of delivering fraudulently Kabila's second term in the office, but none of these conditions were met so far and the Congolese government has so far refused to negotiate with M23...the current situation is more just a ''stalemate'' than a realistic solution.

The M23 rebels are widely believed to be covertly supported by Uganda and Rwanda. Rwanda has a long history of meddling in Dr-Congo, its neighbor blessed with gold, diamonds and other glittering mineral riches. The Rwandan government strenuously denies supplying weapons to the M23 or trying to annex eastern Dr-Congo. Rwanda has often denied any clandestine involvement in this country, only to have the denials later exposed as lies.

Factions within the Rwanda backed M23 rebels insisted that they would maintain some kind of control of the city, despite their withdrawal, and it is unclear what strategic benefit the rebels won by giving up their greatest prize. It is not also clear who would take full control of Goma after the M23 withdrawal. The UN peacekeepers have proven ineffective and the Dr-Congo army has the reputation of running away everytime a dog barks.

Many analysts believe that stalemate looms in eastern Dr-Congo and call the M23 withdrawal ''farcical''.

It is evidently clear to see in the nature of the negotiations in Kampala, who pulls the strings. Even though their conditions were not met, Uganda's president had personally ordered M23 to pull out of Goma to divert the international attention.

Despite their rhetoric of marching to Kinshasa, possibly overthrowing Joseph kabila's regime, which plays out well with the cynicism of vulnerable, tired Goma population, the M23 rebels have a little interest in overthrowing Joseph kabila's regime. The UN Groups of Experts evidenced that James kabarere, the Rwandan defense-minister, who enjoys ''uncle-nephew style relationship'' with Joseph Kabila, is the ''hands of god'' of the M23. However the seizure of Goma by Rwanda- backed M23 rebels has political ramifications on their puppet in Kinshasa, Joseph Kabila.

The seizure of Goma last week, followed by a withdrawal by the Rwanda- backed M23 rebels on 20th November, has dangerously exposed and weakened the regime of the puppet Congolese's president, Joseph Kabila. There seems little prospect of Joseph kabila recovering his political authority in the east or indeed, anywhere else in the country.

On 19th November, 103 members of parliament and senators supported a declaration that Kabila had not tried to build a national army during his eleven years in office and that his association with Paul Kagame, Rwandan president and James Kabarere, Rwandan defense minister and his tolerance of Rwanda and Uganda bordered on ''high treason''.

Some nationalists parliamentarians and senators are genuinely angry about the state of the government and army but others are provincial and territorial administration officials (running customs and tax departments) exploiting the crisis to boost their local income and power base. This will further weaken Joseph Kabila's regime grip on the state and political developments.

Joseph kabila has not grasped the severity of the crisis unfolding in the east or he is just turning a blind eye to the suffering of Congolese people in eastern Dr-Congo and the uprising of the Congolese people across the country and abroad, simply because he is a part of the problem. His circle of advisors tends only to give him good news and there is a belief that M23 farcical withdrawal will solve all the government's problems. This could prove to be dangerously deluded.

Dr-Congo's chronic instability is rooted in very local tensions over land, power and identity, especially along the Rwandan and Ugandan borders and have been festering for years, wounds that never quite scabbed over. The most realistic solution is not a formal peace process driven by diplomats, or a country (Uganda) which is reportedly backed the M23, or a ''farcical'' M23 withdrawal from Goma but a strong well structured and militarily well equipped Congolese army, a legitimate nationalist president and the securization of the Congolese borders with its neighbors.

Joseph Kabila, the most despised president of the country history, has proven ineffective and unreliable for eleven years and there is little prospect that things will improve during his second term in the office. A realistic solution to eastern Dr-Congo conflict can only be started with his departure. Joseph Kabila is a part of the problem not the solution.

By Guylain Gustave Moke
Political Analyst/Writer
Investigative Journalist

Co-Founder of : Congolese Press  Freedom Forum
Researcher and political Activist of '' Congolese thinker''