Over the week, Rwandan and Democratic Republic of the COngo (DRC) governments delegations were in front of the United Nations Security Council.
The two delegations were defending their respective and divergent positions about the infamous M23 rebels. For DRC, the aim was to confirm UN Group Experts’ findings that Rwandan government officials and Rwandan Defense Forces have been training, arming, reinforcing and funding and militarily supporting the M23 congolese rebels. For Rwanda, the objective was to convince the UN Security Council that the findings are not true.
From sources at the United Nations, the general consensus is the arguments presented by the Rwandan delegation led by the self-styled Rwandan Foreign Affairs Minister and Government Spokesperson Ms. Louise Mushikiwabo failed to convince. Most of the defense staged by the Ms. Louise Mushikiwabo rested on accusing the UN Experts head, Mr Steve Hege, of bias against Rwanda . Rwandan delegation was also lost into too much useless and immaterial details, sometimes contradicted by other sources available to UN Security Council members.
The frustration of Ms Louise Mushikiwabo was visible when she emerged from the hour long closed door meeting with the UN Security Council. In an intervew with the media, she spent more time on Steve Hege and accusing Western governments who use economic and military aid to put pressure on “poor” third world countries, like Rwanda. The US, Sweden, Great Britain, and other donors have suspended the aid to Rwanda following the UN Experts findings. She also accused President Joseph Kabila of incompetence and said, in what she qualified as “undiplomatic terms” that the powerful DRC country has a leadership vacuum and is led by the ghost leader, General Joseph Kabila. Present diplomats and observers appeared surprised by the appalling public loss of control and the visible emotional distress of Ms. Louise Mushikiwabo and some members of her delegation. Some observers commented on the fact that if Rwanda wants aid, then the Rwandan government should conduct itself as one who deserves aid and abide by the international standards of human rights and the rule of law.
DRC delegation appeared this time unusually well prepared, coordinated and reserved. The head of the delegation, DRC Foreign Affairs Minister Raymond Tshibanga traveled to New York with representatives of Congolese churches and non government organizations. In preparation of Raymond Tshibanga’s presentation, the representatives sent a memorandum to the UN Security Council, accusing the Rwanda government of being responsible for the chaos and the human tragedy in Eastern DRC. Mr. Raymond Thsibanga also had prior coordination meetings with UN DRC experts and private consultations with Steve Hege.
According to sources at the UN, the presentation by the DRC government was to the point and better received by the UN Security Council.
Emboldened by the positive reception by the UN Security Council and upset with Louise Mushikiwabo’s comments, the DRC President General Joseph Kabila has now asked Rwanda to withdraw all its troops from the DRC territory, including the special forces operating under the Umoja Wetu and Amani agreements. The Rwandan special forces have been conducting joint military operations with Congolese government forces, FARDC, since February 2009. They targeted Rwandan rebels of FDLR and have been responsible for assassinating a number of FDLR military and civilian leaders.
On Friday August 31, 2012 columns of troops on foot and trucks full of Rwandan special forces were seen leaving their positions located in Rutshuru area, and heading to the Rwandan border. At the same time, FARDC troops who were working with Rwandan special forces also left the villages of Kiseguro and Binza and headed in opposite direction as the Rwandan troops were driving towards the border town of Kibumba. The Rwandan special forces on the DRC territory are estimated to be between 3 and four combat units.
However, as most the Rwandan special forces were officially leaving the DRC, other Rwandan special units embedded within the congolese Mai-Mai Raia Mutomboki were conducting raids against Rwandan and Congolese ethnic Hutu in Masisi and Walikale. On Wednesday August 29, 2012 night, they attacked and burned villages occupied by Congolese Hutu and Rwandan Hutu refugees in Walikale. It is believed that the FDLR military leader, General Mudacumura has been living in one of the burned villages until a few weeks ago. However, when the Rwanda special forces and Raia Mutomboki stormed the villages, they only found civilians and hacked most of them to death and later burned the entire villages along with the civilian bodies.
Whether or not the divorce between General Paul Kagame and General Joseph Kabila is being materialized, the end of the chaos in DRC remains a distant dream.