Can Uganda and Rwanda pacify the restive DRC?

Sunday April 1 2018

Presidents Paul Kagame (left) and Yoweri Museveni in Uganda on March 25, 2018. PHOTO | RWANDA PRESIDENCY

Presidents Paul Kagame (left) and Yoweri Museveni in Uganda on March 25, 2018. PHOTO | RWANDA PRESIDENCY 

The EastAfrican
By The EastAfrican
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Rwanda and Uganda have pledged to help the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) find solutions to the worsening conflict and sexual violence in the eastern part, with Presidents Paul Kagame and Yoweri Museveni blaming the United Nations for failing to pacify the country.

After last Sunday’s visit to Entebbe by President Kagame to resolve growing tensions between Kigali and Kampala, the Rwandan leader, who is also the chairman of the African Union, said they would work together to find a solution for the situation in DRC.

The two leaders have in the past two decades been accused of being part of the problem in conflict-riddled DRC, with their armies venturing into the mineral-rich country to fight proxy wars and depose governments.

President Kagame termed the growing violence in eastern DRC as alarming.

“DRC is of a big concern for everyone, starting with the neighbours — particularly Uganda, which has already had spillover from that situation, with hundreds and thousands of refugees,” he said.

More problems

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The Rwandan leader also said that some of the problems in DRC have existed for a long time, which is why a UN peacekeeping force has been present in DRC for a couple of decades now.

“What we are seeing today is not an end to those problems but rather more problems coming up. Definitely these are matters of concern to neighbours, the region and to the wider international community”

Both Heads of State blamed the UN for not doing much to stabilise the situation in DR Congo for more than two decades.

“We are trying to see what to do. Maybe we should be moving faster or doing more, first, as a region,” President Kagame said, adding a question: “Can we do something as a region that would be relevant to address the problems in DRC as we know them?”

He said the Great Lakes Region intends to do something about the situation in DRC because the UN which has been present on the ground for many years has not produced any results.

“We are already talking, in fact it was part of the discussion we had with President Museveni. We need to work with the UN to tell us beyond what they have been doing for many years that has not produced good results, what else do they intend to do or what can we do together to make sure Congo is stabilised?” he said.

Sense of urgency

The Rwandan leader said that the displacement of people in big numbers, which has affected the security of neighbours, and the suffering of Congolese people creates a sense of urgency in finding a solution to conflict.

On his part President Museveni reiterated the need for the international community to find a solution to the situation in Eastern DRC.

“The biggest concern right now is refugees. We are receiving worrying numbers of Congolese refugees. They are coming in big numbers, which calls for action. The international community has the responsibility to find a solution to this problem,” President Museveni.

The Ugandan leader also said that the influx of Congolese refugees comes alongside more thousands of refugees fleeing from South Sudan into Uganda.

“The UN has been that problem for a long time, since the death of Patrice Lumumba in 1960. The UN has been in Congo, almost continuously, for 58 years now,” President Museveni said, adding that for that long, it has failed to stabilise DRC.

Matter of concern

The growing levels of ethnic and sexual violence in eastern DRC have become a matter of concern for humanitarian groups, with more than 13 million people requiring aid and millions more displaced.

Over 100 deaths have been registered since February mainly in ethnic clashes in North Kivu Province. The political uncertainty in the country, following President Joseph Kabila’s decision to stay put since 2016 is partly blamed for growing levels of violence.

The vast mineral rich country is expected to go to polls on December 23, this year but it is not yet clear whether embattled President Kabila will seek re-election amid pressure from the Catholic Church and opposition groups urging him to step aside.

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