Masthead graphic based on a painting by Gudrun Thriemer.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

"D R Congo: Risky steps towards peace," edited by William Minter, AfricaFocus, January 28, 2009.

[Rich source of information for anyone who finds that the peace process for the World War II-scale carnage in DRC has slipped off their reading list. Once Canadians were peacekeepers. Those fronts have not been going well either. -jlt]

This AfricaFocus Bulletin contains excerpts from several commentaries and reports related to recent developments in the eastern Congo, including a summary from the UN’s IRIN news service, a statement from UN Rights, a commentary from Colin Thomas-Jensen of the Enough Project, remarks by UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay, and a report of a UN Security Council meeting on the need to strengthen peacekeeping capacity. WM

The UN Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC) has announced that it is providing logistical support for the joint Congolese-Rwandan military operation in eastern Congo, to maximize protection of civilians and reintegration of rebel forces into the Congolese national army. MONUC was not informed of the operation in advance, and there are real fears for the consequences for civilians. Nevertheless, most observers see the move, reflecting new agreement between Rwandan and Congolese governments, as a prerequisite for more fundamental peace-making measures.

The multi-faceted conflict in eastern Congo, which adjoins other conflict zones to the north and east, has involved systematic abuse of civilians both by government military forces and a wide variety of militias and exile groups. Despite the presence of the largest UN peacekeeping force anywhere in the world, conflict in the region continues to feature the systematic use of child soldiers and of rape against women.

In a parallel development, Ugandan, Congolese, and Southern Sudanese troops have been operating together in Congo against the Ugandan rebel group Lord's Resistance Army, which has slaughtered at least 600 Congolese civilians in recent weeks. The joint government military operations may have some success in weakening the rebel groups, as will the arrest of formerly Rwandan-backed rebel, Laurent Nkunda, and parallel commitments by the Democratic Republic of the Congo to cooperate with Rwanda against Congo-ased Rwandan rebels. But no one expects that these operations can by themselves establish stability, even if cooperation among the regional states continues.

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