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DRC blame game sucks in UN

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UN peacekeepers (Monusco) in Goma, DRC. The UN peacekeeping mission in DR Congo has been criticised as being “totally incapable of engaging the rebels or defending civilian areas where interethnic fighting has broken out.” Photo/FILE

UN peacekeepers (Monusco) in Goma, DRC. The UN peacekeeping mission in DR Congo has been criticised as being “totally incapable of engaging the rebels or defending civilian areas where interethnic fighting has broken out.” Photo/FILE  AFP

By KEVIN KELLEY Special Correspondent

Posted  Saturday, September 22  2012 at  15:52

In Summary

  • The analysts told the United States Congress that, while Rwanda was primarily to blame for the violence, the ineffectiveness of both the DRC’s government and the United Nations peacekeeping force made the crisis continue to fester.
  • The analysts, nongovernmental researchers and advocates, also urged the US and its allies to apply greater pressure on Rwanda to stop it from supporting rebel forces in the Kivus.
  • And they expressed scepticism concerning a proposed “neutral force” that Kenya, Tanzania and Angola say they intend to deploy in unstable areas.
  • The UN peacekeeping detachment, known as Monusco, was also criticised as being “totally incapable of engaging the rebels or defending civilian areas where interethnic fighting has broken out.”
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The blame game over the crisis in the Democratic Republic of Congo’s Kivus region has sucked in the United Nations, with analysts citing the ineffectiveness of its peacekeeping force.

The analysts told the United States Congress that, while Rwanda was primarily to blame for the violence, the ineffectiveness of both the DRC’s government and the United Nations peacekeeping force made the crisis continue to fester.

The analysts, nongovernmental researchers and advocates, also urged the US and its allies to apply greater pressure on Rwanda to stop it from supporting rebel forces in the Kivus.

And they expressed scepticism concerning a proposed “neutral force” that Kenya, Tanzania and Angola say they intend to deploy in unstable areas.

“There is no doubt about Rwanda’s involvement,” Congo expert Jason Stearns told a US House panel.

The former co-ordinator of the UN Group of Experts on Congo said Rwanda’s military assistance to mutineers from the DRC military has been well documented by the UN and Human Rights Watch and investigators with the Rift Valley Institute, where Mr Stearns currently works.

Rwanda’s role

Congolese Methodist Bishop Ntambo Nkulu Ntanda denounced Rwanda’s role in graphic terms in his presentation to the House committee.

“We ask America to stop barbarisms of Rwanda in the DRC,” Bishop Ntanda testified. “Our people are in tears. There are killings, atrocities of all kinds and poverty, leaving behind orphans and widows. There is no respect for women, they are being systematically raped and infected with HIV/Aids.”

Mark Schneider, vice president of the International Crisis Group, joined the chorus of denunciations of Rwanda, saying his NGO has found evidence of a systematic pattern of military and political support provided to the M23 rebellion by Rwandan authorities.”

Mr Schneider and Mr Stearns also agreed that corruption and incompetence within the DRC military and the government headed by President Joseph Kabila is allowing the rebellion to continue.

The Crisis Group representative pointed to “the blatant military ineffectiveness of the Congolese army,” while Mr Stearns suggested that “a lack of faith in Congolese institutions is perhaps the most intractable part of the current conundrum.”

Mr Schneider added that “infighting, corruption, delinquency and the total lack of professionalism of the [DRC military] allowed 700 poorly armed and trained rebels to defeat for more than five months a government army of thousands of troops trained by several countries, including the US, and with a 18,000 UN force charged with backing the DRC army.”

The UN peacekeeping detachment, known as Monusco, was also criticised by Mr Schneider as being “totally incapable of engaging the rebels or defending civilian areas where interethnic fighting has broken out.”

“In the DRC,” he added, “people cannot understand why the most capable military force in their country is unwilling to use its firepower to implement its mandate.”

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