Sunday, July 06, 2008

DRC: Peace Deal Unraveling

I'm currently in Goma supporting the international effort to uphold the Programme Amani, a rather free-wheeling effort to bring over 20 militia groups in the region to an agreement on disarmament, demobilization and absorption into the national army. The ceasefire responsible for this optimistic state of affairs has been broken repeatedly, however.

A primary concern is the lack of 'sticks' (vs carrots) for Laurent Nkunda, the most powerful group. His military advantage over the national army has been demonstrated several times, to much embarrassment in Kinshasa. His strong hand in these negotiations is not diminished by the threat of an ICC indictment; rather he knows he could turn the entire east upside down if things don't go his way. Without a convincing stick to wave in his face, the negotiators' hand is weak.

The other oncoming train in this particular tunnel is the prospect of a national army massively inflated by former rebels, when the Ministry of Defense can barely clothe, train, equip let alone pay its own forces. So a bigger, more dysfunctional national army is a good thing for Congolese civilians? Not sure where that strategy was rubber stamped, but there you go.

Coverage of the Amani process itself can be found here (Radio Okapi)

And the following report by the Institute for War and Peace Reporting describes the fragmentation of peace process itself. It is certainly accurate from my view on the ground, but does not exclude the possibility of resuscitation, which we are currently busy with.

'A ceasefire signed by more than 20 militia groups earlier this year is being broken repeatedly.'

The fragile peace that has restored some calm in the eastern provinces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, DRC, is in danger of collapsing, say key militia groups.

“They attacked our positions. It is now war,” said Sendugu Museveni, the former president and now chief negotiator for PARECO, one of the major ethnic Hutu groups to sign a ceasefire in January.

A peace deal was signed in the Goma, the capital of the North Kivu Province, by more than 20 militias operating in the region. Museveni accused the forces of Tutsi militia General Laurent Nkunda of repeated violations of the ceasefire and of sabotaging the peace process by backing out of the talks last week, as it has done several times before.“This is the last chance,” said Museveni. “We are very tired of responding to the capriciousness of the Tutsis who do whatever they want …. We will not agree to be dominated all the time by the Tutsis.” Read the rest here.

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