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The Race Against Peace: diplomacy in the DRC

FARDC and their immediate commander Colonel Chicko Tshitambue (2nd from right) push their jeep out of the mud on the road near Sake, North Kivu, 2006. Copyright Keith Harmon Snow. More of his work

The Race Against Peace: diplomacy in the DRC

Nicoletta Fagiolo

The war in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), which never makes world headlines, is by far the worst crisis in numbers of people killed and uprooted, before Syria, Yemen and other severely war-torn areas in the XXI century. It is one of three countries in the world declared a level three emergency by the United Nations.

The recent surge of extreme violence which began in the fall of 2014 in Beni, North Kivu, a oil and mineral-rich region in the eastern part of the country bordering Uganda, is part of this on-going war which has plagued the area since 1996, causing the death of circa one million Hutu Rwandan refugees and over 10 million Congolese.

In September 2016, following the gruesome Rwangoma massacres of 13 August in Beni territory which killed 127 people in a single day, the region’s plight hit world-headlines for a moment, as Pope Francis called for an end to the shameful silence on the part of the international community. Since then the massacres have continued and no end is foreseen.

According to Beni’s civil society organization at least 3,575 civilians have been killed and 3,877 kidnapped since October 2014 in the region.[i] North Kivu Province remains the most war-affected area in the DRC accounting for over 1.1 million displaced persons out of a total population of six million people, according to the UN agency OCHA.[ii]

Mainstream media as well as expert reports attribute the escalating violence to an aged Ugandan rebellion, the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), often stating that the ADF has international Jihadist links. Lyon University law graduate and member of the geostrategic research think tank DESC-WONDO, Boniface Musavuli in his forthcoming book Congo’s Beni massacres, Fake Islamists, Rwandan Unending Occupation[iii] sheds light on the historical processes since 1996 which led to Congo having "an army within the army," as well as the unending Rwandan occupation in eastern Congo via proxy rebellions as major destabilizing factors in the region, rather than the ADF.

Musavuli cites a January 2015 UN Panel of Experts report that concluded that there is no credible evidence that ADF has or had in the recent past links with foreign terrorist groups such as Al -Shabaab, Al Qaeda or Boko Haram. Page after page Musavuli exposes irrefutable evidence showing that the main perpetrators of the violence can not be attributed to the ADF who have been present in Beni territory for two decades: their defeat by FARDC General Lucien Bahuma was acknowledged officially in April 2014; the modus operandi of the current assailants differs sharply from the historical ADF; numerous witnesses through the North Kivu Military Operational Court, a recent mobile court hearing on the massacres, stated the assailants were not the ADF which they knew. Musavuli argues that an authentic rebellion does not usually attack the civilians of the country were they have taken up refuge.

[i] The figures are drawn from two open letters written by Beni’s civil society representatives of the region to President Kabila on 14 May 2016 and 5 May 2018 and

[iii] Forthcoming publication Boniface Musavuli, Congo’s Beni massacres, Fake Islamists, Rwandan Unending Occupation, Foreword by Georges Nzongola-Ntalaja, Postface and translation Nicoletta Fagiolo amazon, 2018.

Musavuli is also the author of Les génocides des Congolais, De Léopold II à Paul Kagame, Editions Monde Nouveau/Afrique Nouvelle, Switzerland, 2016.


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