Ban Ki-Moon predicts Period of Instability in the Great Lakes Region
Just days ago, Senator Russell Feingold, the U.S. special envoy working to stabilize Africa’s Great Lakes region, announced he will give his final speech in this position. His press release stated the following, “On February 24, Senator Feingold will give his final speech as U.S. special envoy at the U.S. Institute of Peace to offer his current insights on the DRC, on the prospects for ending the militia violence in the country’s east, and for improving political stability in the Great Lakes region.”
Further the press release states, “Senator Feingold has now spent 18 months as the U.S. special envoy for the Great Lakes region and the Democratic Republic of Congo. He has helped negotiate an end to the M23 rebellion in the eastern DRC and has worked to improve human rights protections for women in that region. He has advocated military reforms in the country, and has pushed for greater dialogue and collaboration among the DRC, Rwanda, and other states in the Great Lakes Region. In his discussion at USIP, Senator Feingold will review recent accomplishments in the region and the challenges ahead. He will outline what he sees as policy priorities for the United States and international community.”
On the heels of this statement by Mr. Feingold comes a leaked yet candid report by Mr. Ban Ki-Moon stating the failures of the United Nations in this mission in the DRC. The 19 page draft report by the United Nations Secretary-General, Ban Ki-Moon, entitled ‘Implementation of the Peace, security and Cooperation Framework for the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Region,’ Mr. Ban Ki-Moon states that the region is in no better position for peace and stability than it was two years ago after the signing of the Peace, security and Cooperation Framework for the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the region.
The Secretary General states in paragraph 63 that, “The lack of meaningful progress in the FDLR disarmament, the slow progress in the repatriation of ex-M23 combatants cantoned in Rwanda and Uganda, delays in the overall implementation of the Nairobi Declarations, persisting mistrust between some leaders of the region, and the trend of disengagement of some signatories are testing the viability of the PSC Framework and delaying its effective implementation. The signatory countries, the guarantors of the PSC Framework and the international community should address these issues as a matter of priority, if we want to avoid any setback to the progress made thus far.”
Further, Mr. Moon states in paragraph 65 that, “The military operations against the remaining armed groups in eastern DRC will not be sufficient on their own to bring about durable peace and stability in the region.” The statement further chastises the leaders of the region for not attending the Regional Oversight Mechanism meeting in Addis Ababa as well as other key meetings that were designed to bring about peace in the region. At the meeting in Addis Ababa Moon stated, “I urge the Governments of the DRC, Rwanda, and Uganda to intensify efforts to complete this process as soon as possible.” President Paul Kagame of Rwanda did not attend this meeting. The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Louise Mushikiwabo, stated that the meeting in Angola was cancelled and Kagame boycotted the meeting because, “it was a waste of time and money.”
However, the most revealing and troubling part of the Secretary Generals statement comes in paragraph 72 and is as follows, “The possibility of violence during upcoming elections in a number of countries of the Great Lakes region in the next few years, and the potential impact this violence can have on the region, should not be downplayed. As electoral processes commence, we must do everything possible to prevent election-related violence. I urge all governments to ensure there is ample space for free and open political discourse. At the same time, I urge all concerned governments, opposition parties, civil society groups, and the international community to work towards promoting credible, timely, transparent, and peaceful elections throughout the region.”
Dr. Theogene Rudasingwa, Coordinator of the Rwanda National Congress, stated to this writer exclusively that, “We (RNC) had predicted failure and we are thus vindicated. We have predicted a period of instability in Rwanda unless root causes of conflict are addressed and Ban Ki Moon thinks so. However, he prescribes the same medicine (war) that has failed in the past, and fuels deadly conflict. To all Rwandan, Congolese, Africans, and peace loving world citizens: continue to unite, resist, mobilize and organize. The struggle continues until victory.”
Mr. Ban Ki-Moon precisely stated that due to the lack of trust among the leaders in the Great lakes Region peace and stability will remain an elusive goal until the trifecta of Kagame, Kabila and Museveni are able to set aside political differences and accomplish the task of working toward peace and stability for eastern DRC which has known only war for the last twenty years.
Moon clearly states in paragraph 70 that, “I urge all governments of the Great Lakes region to stand together and remain committed to cooperating to end the threat posed by all armed groups, and to bring perpetrators to justice before appropriate courts of law, whether through prosecution, extradition, surrender or transfer. This will play a key role in building confidence in the region, breaking the cycles of violence, and achieving a lasting peace.”