Monday, 10 December 2012

DR- CONGO: Why backroom Kampala deal is flawed peace deal ?

After withdrawing from the provincial capital of Goma, Rwanda and Uganda M23 rebels and Congolese government officials have started ''talks'' yesterday in Kampala. Although they have enjoyed a rare week of peace, residents of eastern Congo are fearful of what failed negotiations might bring.

The truth is that the retreat is just the latest chapter in a long story involving competing mafia-like political and military alliances controlled by leaders in the capitals of Congo, Rwanda, and Uganda, all of whom justify their actions in terms of national security concerns to mask economic and political interests. Sometimes these competing elites fight each other and sometimes they cooperate for control of lucrative resources such as land, livestock, minerals, and timber

The opportunity that the rebel withdrawal presents should not be squandered by leaving the resolution of the conflict solely to these three governments while ignoring the root causes and the real representatives of the local communities most affected by the bloody conflict in eastern Congo.

The time has come, finally, for a real international peace effort -- the kind that actually has a chance of ending the deadliest war the world has witnessed since World War II. This week, the biggest guns are once again assembling to re-divide the pie -- this time in the Ugandan capital of Kampala, where peace talks are beginning between the main combatants.

By global standards, the effort to construct a credible peace process for Congo is manifestly derelict, and has only condemned that country to further cycles of devastating conflict. Each time that Rwandan-backed Congolese rebels with shifting acronyms have taken or threatened Goma over the past decade, hasty backroom negotiations have produced deeply flawed deals that have reduced the military pressure on Congolese President Joseph Kabila's weakened government and permitted the Rwandan-backed rebels to administer strategic eastern zones and oversee taxation and resource looting.

 The procedural flaws of the '' Kampala peace deal'' forecast skepticism and failure to launch a durable peace in eastern Dr-Congo conflict. WHY?

First, the latest non-transparent peace initiative has been largely left to the three actors who have benefited most from the absence of the rule of law: the leaders of Congo, Rwanda, and Uganda. As in previous processes, the interests of rebels backed by Rwanda and Uganda will be represented overwhelmingly by Kigali and Kampala.

Second, these backroom deals have led in the past to short-term security arrangements that address none of the economic and political root causes of the conflict -- a pattern that is repeating itself in the current effort. Previous deals have involved total impunity for war criminals, poorly conceived plans for integrating rights-abusing rebels into the Congolese army, and secret deals outlining governing arrangements.

Third, diverse stakeholders from civil society, political parties, and even other armed groups such as local self-defense militias have virtually no role in the negotiations, effectively silencing grassroots Congolese voices.

Fourth, there is no credible senior mediator from either the African Union or the United Nations who has the gravitas and international backing to introduce an agenda that would go beyond short-term deals cut by those with the biggest guns. The United States has supported the current peace effort -- putting a particular emphasis on Rwanda's participation in the talks -- but has not addressed the fundamentally flawed structure of the process itself.

Fifth, there are no expert teams such as those that supported previous African peace deals everywhere from Sudan to Mozambique to Burundi to support protracted negotiations over tough issues and draw on best practices from other peacemaking efforts around the world.

Sixth, there is no internationally coordinated leverage -- in the form of additional sanctions, aid suspensions, or war crimes investigations -- to compel intransigent parties to consider compromises and no effective approach to create real accountability for committing, orchestrating, or funding crimes against humanity. The International Criminal Court has issued arrest warrants for a few Congolese militia leaders, but no plans have been developed to execute the warrants of those who remain at large, including M23 leader Bosco "The Terminator" Ntaganda.

Seventh, there are no special envoys from the United Nations and United States at the talks, which only adds to the vacuum of diplomatic leadership and undermines any chance for peace.
There is no excuse for this sorry state of affairs. And rectifying the situation does not require huge amounts of money or wrenchingly divisive moves within the U.N. Security Council. It requires leadership -- from the African Union, from the U.N. secretary general, US and UK, both countries supporting proxies that plunder Congolese resources.

The answers to this diplomatic train wreck lie in the successful peace processes that have ended previous African war and beyond the Congolese, Rwandan, and Ugandan governments, the initiative should involve armed and unarmed representatives from throughout eastern Congo -- in particular civil society representatives and political party officials -- to ensure that any agreement has the buy-in of a wide swath of stakeholders.

It is highly hypocritical that Uganda, one of the backers of M23 rebels would play a role of ''mediator'' in this peace deal. But also, Rwanda, the main sponsor of M23 rebels is not on the negotiating table. The absence of the opposition officials in Kampala is a major concern for the success of this peace deal.

Rwanda, Uganda and Joseph Kabila'regime are the reason of the ''existing M23'' rebels and the cause of the easetern Dr-Congo conflict. One must be naive to think that they are part of the solution. A prospect of an everlasting peace deal should start with the neutralization of those '' three musketeers''.

By Guylain Gustave Moke
Political Analyst/Writer
Investigative Journalist

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