DRC crisis: Weighing in on the endless insecurity #rwanda #RwOT


Insecurity concerns in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) have a long and complex history, with roots stretching back several decades.

For example, during the colonial era between 1885 and 1960, the period of Belgian colonial rule was marked by exploitation and violence, setting the stage for future conflicts.

Following independence in 1960, the DRC experienced severe turmoil, including the secession of Katanga province and the assassination of the country's first Prime Minister Patrice Lumumba.

Similarly, the long rule of President Mobutu Sese Seko was characterized by corruption, repression, and the neglect of the country's infrastructure, contributing to underlying tensions and instability.

The first major civil war in DRC began when the Alliance of Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Congo (AFDL), under the command of Laurent-Désiré Kabila led to the overthrow of Mobutu in 1997.

Then between 1998 and 2003, a conflict involving multiple African nations and armed groups led to widespread violence and humanitarian crises. This came to be known as the "African World War.' It also resulted into the assassination of Kabila on January 16, 2001 by his 18-year-old bodyguard.

Since then, various regions of the DRC, particularly parts of the Eastern Province, have continued to experience violence and insecurity due to the presence of numerous armed groups, ethnic conflicts, and competition for natural resources.

Efforts to pacify the region have been ongoing for decades. A combination of military interventions, diplomatic negotiations, peace agreements, and international peacekeeping operations have been attempted but with little success.

To begin with, United Nations Operation in the Congo (ONUC) was established to maintain order following independence and the secessionist crisis in Katanga but it yielded no results.

Then Mobutu Sese Seko's government attempted to maintain control through a mix of authoritarian rule and patronage, but these efforts often led to further repression and corruption rather than lasting peace.

Soon after, neighboring countries, particularly Rwanda and Uganda, intervened to overthrow Mobutu, resulting in Laurent-Désiré Kabila becoming president. While this ended Mobutu's rule, it did not bring lasting peace.

As history has it, various peace agreements, such as the Lusaka Ceasefire Agreement (1999) and the Pretoria Agreement (2002) were signed aimed at ending the conflict. These efforts led to the formation of a transitional government in 2003.

With the Lusaka Ceasefire Agreement, the United Nations Organization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC) was established, later succeeded by the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission (MONUSCO) in 2010. These missions have focused on peacekeeping, protection of civilians, and support for the DRC government.

Efforts have been made to stabilize the country through democratic elections (2006, 2011, 2018), though these have often been marred by allegations of fraud and violence.

Disarmament, Demobilization, and Reintegration (DDR) programs have been undertaken with the hope to disband armed groups and reintegrate combatants into society.

More so, various international and regional efforts, including the African Union and the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR), have sought to address the underlying causes of conflict but in vain.

Despite all these efforts, the DRC continues to face significant challenges in achieving lasting peace. So, what exactly is the problem with DRC? Why do efforts to pacify the region continue today with little success? Can the DRC get stability and development amidst the ongoing challenges?

Understanding the endless insecurity crisis in the DRC requires a very sober mind on all accounts. It requires an authentic analysis of the geographical and geopolitical factors at play.

Experts say that this is a complex issue with multiple interrelated causes; a multifaceted matter involving historical legacies, natural resource exploitation, weak governance, and regional dynamics.

Arguably, numerous armed groups and militias, including the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) and the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), continue to operate in eastern DRC. For the most part, these are driven by ethnic tensions, control of resources, and regional politics.

Secondly, the DRC is rich in natural resources, including minerals like coltan, diamonds, gold, and cobalt. These resources have fueled conflict as various groups vie for control, leading to illegal mining and exploitation.

The illicit trade of these minerals often finances armed groups, perpetuating the cycle of violence.

But most importantly, weak governance and widespread corruption hinder effective administration and security efforts. The central government struggles to exert control over the vast and remote regions of the country.

The lack of infrastructure and basic services exacerbates poverty and insecurity, making it difficult for the state to maintain order and provide for its citizens.

Consequently, the prolonged conflict has resulted in severe humanitarian crises, with millions displaced and facing food insecurity, lack of healthcare, and other basic needs.

Sexual violence has been used as a weapon of war, with horrific consequences for women and communities.

Ultimately, lasting peace has been elusive due to the complexity of the conflict and the entangled interests of local, regional, and international actors.

To solve this puzzle, coordinated efforts towards peace and stability require comprehensive approaches, including strengthening governance, addressing the root causes of conflict, and promoting economic development.

Regional cooperation and dialogue among neighboring countries are crucial, given the cross-border nature of many rebel groups and the historical involvement of other nations in the DRC's conflicts.

This week, the Ministers responsible for regional and foreign affairs from each of the East African Community member States held a retreat in Zanzibar from 6th to 8th July 2024.

They took note of the state of interstate relations and the adverse impact on the integration agenda and encouraged the partner states to use existing frameworks provided for in the treaty for the establishment of the East African Community to address interstate disputes.

Concern was raised on the deteriorating humanitarian and security situation in Eastern DRC where the Ministers appreciated the humanitarian truce negotiated by the government of the United States of America and recommended that the truce be extended indefinitely.

During the retreat, it was acknowledged that the viable path to sustainable peace and security in this region is through a political process.

The meeting, recommended the convening of a summit of the EAC Heads of State to revitalize the political track of the EAC led Nairobi process in reciprocal coordination with the Luanda process.

Whether this time it will work or is just another round of fruitless efforts to pacify Eastern DRC, your guess is as good as mine.

And while the journey towards peace is ongoing, the commitment of both local and international actors remains crucial in achieving a stable and prosperous future for the country.

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Sam K Nkurunziza

Source : https://en.igihe.com/opinion/article/drc-crisis-weighing-in-on-the-endless-insecurity

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