Rene — The conflict in the Congo is a resource war waged by U.S. and British allies

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The conflict in the Congo is a resource war waged by U.S. and British
By Kambale Musavuli
Online Journal Guest Writer
Feb 19, 2009, 00:17
Since Rwanda and Uganda invaded the Congo in 1996, they have pursued a
plan to appropriate the wealth of Eastern Congo either directly or
through proxy forces. The December 2008 United Nations report is the
latest in a series of U.N. reports dating from 2001 that clearly
documents the systematic looting and appropriation of Congolese
resources by Rwanda and Uganda, two of Washington and London’s
staunchest allies in Africa.
However, in the wake of the December 2008 report, which clearly
documents Rwanda’s support of destabilizing proxy forces inside the
Congo, a series of stunning proposals and actions have been presented
which all appear to be an attempt to cover up or bury the damning U.N.
report on the latest expression of Rwanda’s aggression against the
Congolese people.
The earliest proposal came from Herman Cohen, former assistant
secretary of state for African affairs under George Herbert Walker
Bush. He proposed that Rwanda be rewarded for its well documented
looting of Congo’s wealth by being a part of a Central and/or East
African free trade zone whereby Rwanda would keep its ill-gotten gains.
French President Nicholas Sarkozy would not be outdone; he also brought
his proposal off the shelf, which argues for essentially20the same
scheme of rewarding Rwanda for its 12-year war booty from the Congo.
Two elements are at the core of both proposals.
One is the legitimization of the economic annexation of the Congo by
Rwanda, which for all intents and purposes represents the status quo.
And two is basically the laying of the foundation for the balkanization
of the Congo or the outright political annexation of Eastern Congo by
Rwanda. Both Sarkozy and Cohen have moved with lightning speed past the
Dec. 12, 2008, United Nations report to make proposals that avoid the
core issues revealed in the report.
The U.N. report reaffirms what Congolese intellectuals, scholars and
victims have been saying for over a decade in regard to Rwanda’s role
as the main catalyst for the biblical scale death and misery in the
Congo. The Ugandan and Rwandan invasions of 1996 and 1998 have
triggered the deaths of nearly 6 million Congolese. The United Nations
says it is the deadliest conflict in the world since World War II.
The report `found evidence that the Rwandan authorities have been
complicit in the recruitment of soldiers, including children, have
facilitated the supply of military equipment, and have sent officers
and units from the Rwandan Defense Forces’ to the DRC. The support is
for the National Congress for the Defense of the People, or CNDP,
formerly led by self-proclaimed Gen. Laurent Nkunda.
The report also shows that the CNDP is sheltering a war criminal wanted
by the International Criminal Court, Gen. Jean Bosco Ntaganda. The CNDP
has used Rwanda as a rear base for fundraising meetings and bank
accounts, and Uganda is once more implicated as Nkunda has met
regularly with embassies in both Kigali and Kampala.
Also, Uganda is accepting illegal CNDP immigration papers. Earlier U.N.
reports said that Kagame and Museveni are the mafia dons of Congo’s
exploitation. This has not changed in any substantive way.
The report implicates Tribert Rujugiro Ayabatwa, a close advisor to
Paul Kagame, president of Rwanda. Rujugiro is the founder of the
Rwandan Investment Group. This is not the first time he has been named
by the United Nations as one of the individuals contributing to the
conflict in the Congo.
In April 2001, he was identified as Tibere Rujigiro in the U.N. Panel
of Experts on the Illegal Exploitation of Natural Resources and Other
Forms of Wealth in the Democratic Republic of the Congo as one of the
figures illegally exploiting Congo’s wealth. His implication this time
comes in financial contributions to CNDP and appropriation of land.
This brings to light the organizations he is a part of, which include
but are not limited to the Rwanda Development Board, the Rwandan
Investment Group, of which he is the founder, and Kagame’s Presidential
Advisory Council. They have members as notable as Rev. Rick Warre
business tycoon Joe Ritchie, former British Prime Minister Tony Blair,
Scott Ford of Alltell, Dr. Clet Niyikiza of GlaxoSmithKline, former
U.S. President Bill Clinton and many more.
These connections provide some insight into why Rwanda has been able to
commit and support remarkable atrocities in the Congo without receiving
even a reprimand in spite of the fact that two European courts have
charged their top leadership with war crimes and crimes against
humanity. It is only recently that two European nations, Sweden and the
Netherlands, have decided to withhold aid from Rwanda as a result of
its aggression against the Congolese people.
The report shows that the Congolese soldiers have also given support to
the FDLR and other armed groups to fight against the aggression of
Rwanda’s CNDP proxy. One important distinction must be made in this
regard. It appears that the FDLR support comes more from individual
Congolese soldiers as opposed to overall government support.
The Congolese government is not supporting the FDLR in incursions into
Rwanda; however, the Rwandan government is in fact supporting rebel
groups inside Congo. The Congolese population is the victim of the
CNDP, FDLR and the Congolese military.
The United Nations report is a predictable outgrowth of previous
reports produced by the U.N. since 2001. It reflects the continued
appropriation of the land, theft of Congo’s resources, and continuous
Ahuman rights abuses caused by Rwanda and Uganda. An apparent aim of
these spasms is to create facts on the ground — land expropriation,
theft of cattle and other assets — to consolidate CNDP/Rwandan
economic integration into Rwanda.
Herman Cohen’s `Can Africa Trade Its Way to Peace?’ in the New York
Times reflects the disastrous policies that favor profits over people.
In his article, the former lobbyist for Mobutu and Kabila’s government
in the United States and former assistant secretary of state for Africa
from 1989 to 1993 argues, `Having controlled the Kivu provinces for 12
years, Rwanda will not relinquish access to resources that constitute a
significant percentage of its gross national product.’
He adds, `The normal flow of trade from eastern Congo is to Indian
Ocean ports rather than the Atlantic Ocean, which is more than a
thousand miles away.’ Continuing his argument, he believes that `the
free movement of people would empty the refugee camps and would allow
the densely populated countries of Rwanda and Burundi to supply needed
labor to Congo and Tanzania.’
Cohen’s first mistake in providing solutions to the conflict is to look
at the conflict as a humanitarian crisis that can be solved by economic
means. Uganda and Rwanda are the aggressors. Aggressors should not
define for the Congo what is best, but rather it is for the Congo to
define what it has to offer to its neighbor.
A lasting solution is to stop the silent annexation of Eastern Congo.
The International Court of Justice has already weighed in on this
matter when it ruled in 2005 that Congo is entitled to $10 billion in
reparations due to Uganda’s looting of Congo’s natural resources and
the commission of human rights abuses in the Congo. It would have in
all likelihood ruled in the same fashion against Rwanda; however,
Rwanda claimed to be outside the jurisdiction of the court.
The United States and Great Britain’s implication is becoming very
clear. These two great powers consider Rwanda and Uganda their staunch
allies and, some would argue, client states. These two countries have
received millions of dollars of military aid, which, in turn, they use
in Congo to cause destruction and death.
Rwandan President Paul Kagame is a former student at the U.S. military
training base Fort Leavenworth and Yoweri Museveni’s son, Lt. Gen.
Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, graduated from the same U.S. military college
in the summer of 2008. Both the United States and Great Britain should
follow the lead of the Dutch and Swedish governments, which have
suspended their financial support to Rwanda.
With U.S. and British taxpayers’ support, we now see an estimated 6
million people dead in Congo, hundreds of thousands of women
systematically raped as an instrument of war and mi
llions displaced.
A political solution will resolve the crisis, and part of that requires
pressure on Rwanda in spite of Rwanda’s recent so-called `house arrest’
of Laurent Nkunda. African institutions such as the Southern African
Development Community (SADC) and the African Union are primed to be
more engaged in the Congo issue. Considering Congo’s importance to
Africa, it is remarkable that they have been so anemic in regard to the
Congo crisis for so long.
Rwanda’s leader, Paul Kagame, cannot feel as secure or be as arrogant
as he has been in the past. One of his top aides was arrested in
Germany as a result of warrants issued by a French court and there is
almost global consensus that pressure must be put on him to cease his
support of the destabilization of the Congo and its resultant
humanitarian catastrophe.
In addition to pressure on Kagame, the global community should support
the following policies:
1. Initiate an international tribunal on the Congo.
2. Work with the Congolese to implement a national reconciliation
process; this could be a part of the international tribunal.
3. Work with the Congolese to assure that those who have committed war
crimes or crimes against humanity are brought to justice.
4. Hold accountable corporations that are benefiting from the suffering
and deaths in the Congo.
5. Make the resolution of the Congo crisis a top internati
onal priority.
Living is a right, not a privilege, and Congolese deaths must be
honored by due process of the law. As the implication of the many
parties in this conflict becomes clear, we should start firmly
acknowledging that the conflict is a resource war waged by U.S. and
British allies.
We call upon people of good will once again to advocate for the
Congolese by following the prescriptions we have been outlining to end
the conflict and start the new path to peace, harmony and an end to the
exploitation of Congo’s wealth and devastation of its peoples.
Kambale Musavuli is spokesperson and student coordinator for Friends of
the Congo. He can be reached at Kambale@friendsofthecongo.org.