from Africa in Transition

It’s Bad (Again) in Eastern Congo

June 1, 2012

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Blog posts represent the views of CFR fellows and staff and not those of CFR, which takes no institutional positions.

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The UN office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reports that internally displaced people (IDP) in Congo-Kinshasa numbers more than two million, as of March 31.  That is up from 1.7 million IDPs at the end of December. Most of this increase is in the two eastern provinces of North and South Kivu. The UN Stabilization Mission in Congo (MONUSCO) is stepping up efforts to protect civilians, especially in North Kivu, in the aftermath of a mutiny led by Bosco Ntaganda. Ntaganda is a Tutsi warlord whose forces had been incompletely incorporated into the regular Congolese army as part of a deal between Kinshasa and Kigali.  MONUSCO refers to "significant" displacement of civilians and refugee flows into Uganda and Rwanda.

Luis Moreno-Ocampo, Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) is seeking new charges against Ntaganda for war crimes.

BBC reports cite UN sources of Rwandan involvement in training fighters engaged in the civil strife in eastern Congo, presumably associated with Ntaganda and the Tutsis.  This has resulted in a blistering denial by Rwanda’s foreign minister, who is bitterly critical of MONUSCO. She said, "This billion-dollar-a-year operation makes up one quarter of the UN’s entire peacekeeping budget, and yet it has been a failure from day one...MONUSCO has become a destabilizing influence, primarily concerned with keeping hold of its bloated budgets and justifying its ongoing existence."

A useful analysis published by Pretoria’s Institute for Security Studies (ISS) recalls the role of armed groups associated with the Tutsis and the Hutus and the complex relations between the governments of Joseph Kabila in Kinshasa and Paul Kagame  in Kigali. It was Kigali, ISS argues, that appointed Ntaganda as the head of the Congrès National pour la Défense du Peuple (CNDP) that supports the Tutsis, especially against the Forces Démocratiques de Libération du Rwanda (FDLR), a Hutu group associated with the Rwanda genocide.  It is apparently Ntganda’s CNDP that has mutinied.

The Rwandan genocide still casts a long shadow, and the people of eastern Congo continue to pay the price.

More on:

Sub-Saharan Africa

Democratic Republic of Congo

International Law

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