Thursday, 22 January 2009


Despite the complex development of the situation on the ground, and may be even because of it, I am posting my on going consideration on the faws of the Sun City "inter-congolese dialogue". History is a good reference while assessing decisions that can bring about the changes capable of building or to eroding the formation of a nation.
2003 Sun City agreement and the country’s unity argument

The Sun City inter-Congolese dialogue’s outcome could not be expected to succeed because of the precedent of a major failure of the State in DRC. Apart from the general causes highlighted earlier, the situation had been seriously aggravated by a number of well know circumstances. But it had been an urgent dialogue which was meant to save the unity of the country and its integrity. This priority took over other important issues without which no unity could be achieved. Especially, it could not be realistic if it did not establish a logical order of reforms needed.

Another cause of Sun City’s failure, which is little mentioned in different policy analysis is that, by focusing on the integrity and the unity of the country, Sun City’s “under the table agenda” proved to be not the restoration of the State, but only about dealing with the Eastern Rebel Movements, whose strongest claim remains today: the true reforms of the State to pave way for development. Sun City focused on: stopping the RCD-Goma[1] troupes from advancing on the Katanga and Kasaï fronts; getting the Rwandan Army fighting Ex-FAR[2]/Interahamwe on Congolese territory to leave the country; opening the positions previously held by the RCD-Goma to the Government forces and their allied militias; reorganizing politically and militarily Ex-FAR/Interahamwe and prepare their return to Rwanda by force. The agreement ignored totally the link established by the previous Congolese leadership, under Kabila father, between the Congolese army and the Ex-FAR/Interahamwe dating from the time of 1998 events. The means chosen to restore country’s unity was to start with the national army.

The official focus on the Congolese army restoration was supposed to respond to two problems: the formation of a newly integrated army to defend the territorial integrity and the reformation of different national militias and rebellious movements. To defend territorial integrity without any imaginative policy to tackle poverty is quite ironic. The process included a faulty mechanism called “brassage” to which many militias resisted, especially the brigades made up of a majority of kinyarwanda speaking Congolese, and those operating in Ituri. They feared ethnic cleaning within the army as it had happened before. They were determined to defend the local population living under constant exactions on the part of Ex-FAR/Interahamwe. In fact, the presence of the latter has been used tacitly by the Congolese administration to keep outside the country thousands of kinyarwanda speaking Congolese. This paper will not deal extensively with the dramatic history of this kinyarwanda speaking Congolese. It is mentioned here just to show how, instead of facing the challenge of the reorganization of the State; the dialogue in Sun City was derailed already in its process seeking to perpetuate division through a racist problem that has been always dealt with clumsily except a few times, under Mobutu’s rule.

Moreover, the agreement worsened everything for two reasons. First, it could not focus on the unity of the country while adopting, at the same time, divisive measures and an implicit protection foreign genocidaire militias. Secondly because of having chosen an easy way: the power sharing among the larger belligerent groups (mostly the MLC[3] and RCD) to set up a transitional government, probably hoping that the transitional government would solve the tough untouched issues. Today we know it did not, and then, we knew it would not, because of its flawed logic.

Sun City and the subsequent political decisions kept in their horizon the Unity shaped by Mobutu in his 32 years in power. They overlooked the fact that such unity had been shattered somehow by the AFDL policy. And in any case, Sun City should not have ignored so quickly the recent past of the country. Nor should it have ignored the fact that, the problem of the unity of DRC was the biggest problem since the time of independence. Every knowledgeable Congolese is aware of the Leopoldville Round Table that took place in January and February 1961. It sought to devise a federal structure due to very objective issues, which curiously are at the basis of the current crisis: ethnic diversity, economic diversity, language, common history and customs. The Round Table estimated that federal divisions could cover more or less 300,000 inhabitants per State. It has been a mistake to take as starting point Mobutu’s unity without having the political will to keep the country together. By adopting divisive policy, Sun City and its institutions turned the ethnic diversity, diversity of resources, language, history and customs into tools of destabilization as it is proving to be. Such faulty tactic can be understood within the context of a type of politics in need of keeping alive clientelism and new channels of corruption.

[1] Rassemblement Congolais pour la Démocratie
[2] Former Rwandan forces Ander Habyalimana: Forces Armées Rwandaise, which on Congolese territory became FDLR: Forces Démocratiques pour la Libération du Rwanda.
[3] Mouvement de Libération du Congo, the party of Jean Pierre Bemba who is in the Hague. It the main opposition party in the DRC parliament.

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