A recent report by a United Nations team of experts has strongly accused Rwanda of supporting a rebel group that is destabilizing peace in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo.
The evidence of Rwanda's military support for M23—the group that Jean Bosco Ntaganda heads—comes from defectors, Human Rights Watch, and the UN itself. So far no other covert act in this multidimensional proxy war has been better sourced.
To keen observers of the Great Lakes region, there isn’t any doubt about what M23 is all about because many of its members served in another militia allegedly backed by Rwanda, the National Congress for the Defence of the People (CNDP), responsible for widespread atrocities, including ethnic killings and mass rape.
Following release of the damning UN report, the Western countries led by United States of America have reacted by suspending all financial aid to Rwanda, in bid to pressure the Rwandan president Paul Kagame to stop the allegedsupport of the rebel group—M23.
Of course that has always been the habit of Western countries, the use of aid as yardstick in Africa—a reminder to our leaders that aid isn’t something we should adore and nurture. The immediate target and purpose of this pressure by the Western countries is an indicted war criminal called Bosco Ntaganda, also known as the Terminator, whom Rwanda stands accused of shielding.
While it’s not our intention to question the contents of the UN report, it’s indeed our concern to ask this question: Since when did Western countries begin caring about the fragile situation in Democratic Republic of Congo?
We ask this question because it’s an undeniable truth that the people of DRC have suffered politically and economically during the past five decades, because the Western countries led by US created and glorified dictator Mobutu Seko Seko, after the brutal killings of the country’s first Premier Patrick Lumumba.
Lumumba—the first legally elected prime minister of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC)—was assassinated 51 years ago, on 17 January, 1961. This heinous crime was a culmination of two inter-related assassination plots by American and Belgian governments, which used Congolese accomplices and a Belgian execution squad to carry out the deed.
Ludo De Witte, the Belgian author of the best book on this crime, described it as "the most important assassination of the 20th century". For 127 years, the US and Belgium have played key roles in shaping Congo's destiny. In April 1884, seven months before the Berlin Congress, the US became the first country in the world to recognise the claims of King Leopold II of the Belgians to the territories of the Congo Basin.
Today, the combined resources mainly minerals of DRC if they were to be sold at the current world’s market price, would equal the combined Gross Domestic Product of US and Europe for one year. But, DRC is still the poorest country on earth with dilapidated infrastructure.
During the era of Mobutu, DRC’s resources were looted and exported to Europe, but nobody cared. Today, the country’s resources are looted by multinationals, some of which are from Western countries, but nobody bothers. All billions looted by Mobutu and his cronies have never been recovered or returned back to the people of DRC.
Why did Western banking institutions facilitate the capital flight of nearly $18 billion from the Congo during Mobutu’s reign? Why did law enforcement officials recover only a few million dollars of Mobutu’s purported $8 billion in personal wealth in Swiss banks? And what role did the West have in perpetuating Mobutu’s crimes?
Till today neither the UN nor the Western superpowers have ever answered these questions. What we have witnessed is a series of reports saying so and so have done this in DRC, and many other endless accusations. If the world does not thoroughly and fairly address the question of plunder of resources, insecurity in DRC and the struggle for power, the mineral-rich central African country will continue to suffer both politically and economically.
The Western countries should be honest about the real problems facing DRC and how these obstacles can be solved without creating another instability in the region. Today, DRC is the home of many rebel factions, including the one led by Joseph Kony, but due to either its geographical location and landforms or lack of international commitment—no one has so far been held accountable.
We would like to see a stable, peaceful and united DRC. But in having peaceful and united DRC, we shouldn’t tear apart neighbouring countries, which surround the country—especially Rwanda, Tanzania, Burundi and Uganda.