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Extreme opacity

January 29, 2009

A few days ago, I had a very long and illustrative talk with a Congolese expert on the  politics in the DRC.

Before, he told me, he was aware of what was going on. He basically got the information, and according to it he could foresee what was going to happen. These days, he does not know what is happening. Like anyone else interested in the war in North Kivu, he can only try to understand the current situation on the basis of the news, interpreting the chain of events and making his own deductions.

According to him, only four people really know what has been agreed  between Rwanda and the DRC: the president of Rwanda, Paul Kagame; the president of the DRC, Joseph Kabila, the Congolese general John Numbi, former chief of the Congolese Air Force and nowadays DRC Police Inspector General; and the Chief of General Staff of the Rwandan Armed Forces, James Kabarebe. To these men we could add a few of the highest officials from the governments of the US, the UK and France.

The visit of James Kavarebe to Kinshasa on January 8th, very much rejected by the Congolese public opinion, can be seen now as the turning point for the current scenario.

The opacity in the decission making is extreme. It´s not only that the Congolese governors do not know what is happening. The Congolese ministers themselves were not informed about the agreement with Rwanda.

As a result, the destiny of sixty million Congolese and an extremely relevant issue  for the future of ten million Rwandans is being decided leaving absolutely every citizen aside. It is completely undemocratic.

Only five months ago, Paul Kagame used strong words agains Joseph Kabila in La Libre Belgique. Now, they are working together. Only huge international pressure can explain that.

Now that the hunt of the FDLR has started, people wonder what will be the future of Walikale, the richest mining region in North Kivu. This is an area controlled by the 85th Congolese Batallion and the FDLR. Will they be sweeped? No one knows if this is part of the deal.

Another issue is the weight of the Rwandan army in the operation. Rwanda has publicly annonunced the “observer” nature of their forces in Kivu. However, everyone knows the real capabilities of the FARDC. It can hardly be called an army. And from one day to another, they are supposed to be capable to face the FDLR. Everyone knows who is carrying the military weight of the operation.

Many of us fear the humanitarian consequences of the military operation. The FDLRs have been living in Congo for fifteen years, have mixed with the population, have had children… As a relevant Congolese authority recently said, referring to the presence of FDLR in North Kivu: if you mix salt and sugar, how are you supposed to separate both again?

The expert I talked to agreed on the fact that a lot more than what we actually know has been dealed. But no one knows the real terms. Only the four men mentioned above… and a few others whose names we don´t know.

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