Some time today, the Democratic Republic of Congo’s head of state, Felix Tshisekedi, will take to the lectern, to deliver his speech to the UNGA. Whatevever else that might be contained in that speech, you will be assured excellent odds, if you bet on the speech being composed, almost entirely, of complaints against Rwanda. For him success will be if he leaves the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), having ticked off every pretext he needs to take his country into an unnecessary war.
The UNGA speech will be a culmination of an entire year of similar complaints. Tshisekedi’s recently acquired flying palace, has racked up an impressive number of air miles, as he circumnavigated the globe to attend every event, just to denounce Rwanda to the world.
The reason for this urgency that verges on desperation, is the need to somehow circumvent presidential elections scheduled for this December. The Congolese head of state seems to have arrived at the conclusion that only war, offers him a chance of hanging on to power.
With a raging war, he can call for an indefinite postponement of elections, until peace returns to the country. When that would be, only he can decide, since whether or not there is peace in the DRC, has always been in his hands. And in the unlikely event that he is forced to hold elections, despite the war he will have carefully engineered, he can still call upon the nation to unite behind him, against a common enemy.
Only then can he avoid having to answer the inconvenient question of what on earth he has been doing for the last four years in office, since he can barely claim to have been governing the country.
Under his watch, a country whose abundance of natural resources, makes it one of the wealthiest nations on earth, titters on the edge of poverty, its people trapped in seemingly perpetual conflict, much of it cooked up in state house, primarily to enable the incumbent to stay in power.
The defeated planners and perpetrators of the genocide were safely conducted by their French backers, into what was then Zaire, under Mobutu Sese Seko. Mobutu took the Rwanda genocidal forces into the Congolese body politic. They would go on to form an army they hoped would recapture Rwanda, the so called, Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR).
As well as launching insurgent attacks against Rwanda, the FDLR targeted the Kinyarwanda speaking Congolese, in what was a replay of the genocial murders that had been perpetrated in their homeland.
The response from the Kinyarwanda speaking Congolese, was the formation of their own armed group, the Congress for the Protection of the People (CNDP). It this group that would later become M23, so named because of agreements signed between them and the government, on March 23rd, agreements the rebels say were never honoured.
An almost immediate halt of the Congolese conflict is there for the asking. All Tshisekedi has to do is agree to direct negotiations with M23. But that would bring peace, and peace does not suit his purposes.
Instead, hundreds of thousands of Congolese refugees, who have languished in refugee camps in neighbouring countries, including Rwanda, are joined by a new influx, as Tshisekedi prepares for war, after his own fashion.
For more than twenty years, the DRC has been plagued by armed groups, whose only objective was to prey on the local population. There are no exact numbers of how many these groups are, since more form and reform regularly, but there are over 130, at any given moment.
At least they were, until a few months ago, when the DRC government decided that men, and they are almost exclusively men, who rampaged through the country, looting, murdering, raping, were no longer “negative forces” but “patriots” now known as “Wazalendo.” The newly minted patriots, have been rearmed by the government, incorpoarated into a national army that is itself guilty of gross human rights abuses agaisnt civilians, to fight M23.
The “Wazalendo” include the FDLR, who still dream of returning to Rwanda by force of arms. They are supported by over 2000 East European mercenaries, including the Waganer, and Agemira groups. Among new arms purchased for the coming war, are a number of drones from China.
So, when he gets up to the speak at the UNGA, you can bet your last penny, that he will be blaming Rwanda, as a distraction from his failure to solve what are internal problems. Blaming Rwanda has replaced any attempt at seeking solutions for these problems, even when those solutions are all but presented to him on a plate.
So far, the world has seemed willing to be distracted, will the 78th UNGA be any different, and at least condemn Tshisekedi’s perverse need to find a problem for every solution, banging the drums of war to drown out any peace overtures?