Only in the Alice in Wonderland world of war-torn eastern Congo would the withdrawal of M23 rebels from Congo's eastern provincial capital of Goma be cause for major celebration. The truth is that the retreat is just the latest chapter in a long story involving competing mafia-like political and military alliances controlled by leaders in the capitals of Congo, Rwanda, and Uganda, all of whom justify their actions in terms ofnational security concerns to mask economic and political interests. Read More »
If you have been reading about eastern Congo lately, one name has been stealing headlines: M23. In a dramatic show of force, the Rwanda-supported rebel militia group led by ICC indictee Bosco Ntaganda took control of strategically important Goma in mid- November and then earned a place at the ongoing peace talks in Kampala by ending their 11-day occupation earlier this week.
However, focusing on the M23 belies the complexity of the highly militarized politics of eastern Congo. Read More »
A semblance of normal life is returning to Goma, with a few banks, shops, and schools reopening. But despite the presence of 600 policemen and a battalion of government forces who deployed to the city following M23’s withdrawal, people are still petrified that M23 might return. Ahead of talks with the Congolese government, the rebels have continued to posture by threatening to retake Goma if their demands are not met. Read More »
During my recent three-week trip to eastern Chad to visit the Darfuri refugee camps Djabal and Goz Amer, I had lots of conversations. The meetings under trees, in classrooms, and community centers throughout the camps made me realize how much I took education and what it means for granted. We understand the need and importance of education, yet we underestimate its power and potential to radically improve the human existence. Read More »
Nearly six months on from the launch of a U.N. strategy aimed at ending 26 years of violence by the Lord’s Resistance Army, or LRA, a joint report by a coalition of non-governmental organizations reveals today that the strategy has failed to make meaningful progress toward its core objectives. The report is released ahead of U.N. Security Council consultations on the LRA set for December 18th.
Tepid political commitment from regional governments, lack of urgency from the U.N., and an under-resourced African Union mission are the key causes of the failure.
“For too long, the people of the central Africa have suffered from unspeakable atrocities committed by the LRA. Their children have been abducted and murdered. Their families have been forced from their homes and their livelihoods destroyed. The UN has shown great leadership, and invested a great deal, in developing a strategy to support these populations and respond to the horrors of the LRA. It must not fall short now. There is too much at stake and too much to lose,” Ben Keesey, Chief Executive Officer of Invisible Children, said.
The report comes as violence is again escalating in the Democratic Republic of Congo and amid reports that the Sudanese government is harboring the LRA. Both of these developments could give the LRA the opportunity to reassert itself in the region. The evidence of ineffective U.N./African Union collaboration is also of concern in the light of a likely military intervention in Mali.
“This report is a wakeup call for the Security Council. Unless they reenergize the strategy and ensure that regional governments are effectively engaged then the whole process could fall apart. The Secretary General must publicly affirm his determination to see the UN Regional Strategy on the LRA implemented in full,” said Ernest Sugule, National Coordinator of Solidarité et Assistance intégrale aux Personnes Démunies (SAIPED), in the DRC.
The international community also has a critical role to play to support the UN and AU’s efforts.
“The UN, in partnership with the African Union and international donors, should vigorously lead the effort to end the LRA conflict. To deliver on the UN strategy will require more troops, access for the troops to LRA safe havens, enhanced intelligence, and improved efforts to promote defections. At this critical moment, the UN must rise to the challenge,” John Bradshaw, Executive Director of the Enough Project, said.
WASHINGTON – Fighting between the M23 rebel movement and the Congolese military escalated last week as the rebel group seized control of Goma, a key city in eastern Congo. To address this growing violence, a broadened peace process including all parties and stakeholders must be initiated that will cease ongoing hostilities and address the systemic drivers of regional conflict, according to an Enough Project policy brief.
Aaron Hall, co-author of the brief and Enough Project Associate Director of Research, said:
“The current conflict in eastern Congo has revealed new evidence of support for armed groups from the governments of Rwanda and Uganda, as well as confirmation evidence of continued mismanagement within the governance and security sectors of Congo. However, the causes and dynamics of the long-standing conflict are unchanged. If the cycle of regional foreign intervention, economic exploitation, and rapacious governance in eastern Congo is not broken, there is no chance for peace in the region.”
The Enough brief argues that regional and international stakeholders must be more directly engaged in supporting a peace process that includes a balance between constructive and coercive leverage to provide the necessary incentives and pressures for compromise between the conflicting parties. The brief highlights the need for a broadened peace process that would be jointly mandated by the U.N., African Union, and the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region, or ICGLR.
John Prendergast, co-author of the brief and co-founder of the Enough Project, said:
"The lack of a credible, effective, internationally mandated and leveraged peace process for the escalating war in Congo is becoming a major reason for that war’s continuation. The closed-door ICGLR summit between heads of state from Congo, Rwanda and Uganda—without the involvement of political parties, civil society elements, and armed groups representing the diverse voices of eastern Congo—resembles all of the failed deals that came before it through similar processes. A deal between just the biggest guns is unlikely to address the root causes of the conflict in the eastern Congo. Instead, the declaration issued by the heads of state summit at Kampala represents another short-term security agreement that ensures that Congolese President Kabila remains in power while international pressure is removed from Presidents Kagame and Museveni of Rwanda and Uganda, respectively."
The brief outlines considerations for both regional and international actors in creating a framework to work towards peace in eastern Congo. This brief is the first in a three-part Enough Project series on the process, leverage, and substance necessary to create a path towards peace in eastern Congo and the surrounding region.
Enough is a project of the Center for American Progress to end genocide and crimes against humanity. Founded in 2007, the Enough Project focuses on crises in Sudan, eastern Congo, and areas of Africa affected by the Lord’s Resistance Army. Enough’s strategy papers and briefings provide sharp field analysis and targeted policy recommendations based on a“3P” crisis response strategy: promoting durable peace, providing civilian protection, and punishing perpetrators of atrocities. Enough works with concerned citizens, advocates, and policy makers to prevent, mitigate, and resolve these crises. For more information, please visit www.enoughproject.org.
Ten thousand Invisible Children supporters descended in red t-shirts on the D.C. Convention Center earlier this month for the group’s largest event to date: MOVE:DC. While I walked 15 minutes from my apartment, there were attendees who had flown from Brazil and driven from California, all united in their commitment to ending the atrocities of the Lord’s Resistance Army, or LRA, and apprehending now-infamous rebel leader Joseph Kony. Read More »
Residents settled into an uneasy calm today “under our new masters,” a day after mutineers from the Congolese army, now leaders of the M23 military wing, forced government troops, or FARDC, out of the city and took control of the lucrative border crossing between Congo and Rwanda. Read More »
The truth is that the U.N./African Union Mission in Darfur is unable to provide security for a host of hotspots being targeted by Khartoum government-aligned militias. So why did UNAMID deploy to evacuate Khartoum's combatants? Professor and Sudan specialist Eric Reeves examines the question in this guest blog post. Read More »
The city awoke to artillery and mortar fire today as rebels with the March 23 Movement, or M23, pushed into the outskirts of town, taking control of North Kivu province’s main airport this morning. By mid-afternoon the rebels claimed full control of Goma, underscoring the lack of resistance they faced from FARDC or MONUSCO by marching down the main road to the “Grande Barriere” border crossing with Rwanda. Read More »