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US: “Real success in the Kivus”. Sure?

February 21, 2009

Through words of its ambassador in the DRC, the US have publicly shown their full support for the joint military operation taking place in the Kivus. This kind of open declaration, and the way things are happening, can let us even think that plan the itself has been conceived by US diplomacy and proposed to Kigali and Kabila with a “you take it, or you take it” approach, soften with the idea of a “win-win” situation for everyone.

It seems that once the US speaks, the EU feels that it has to express itself on the matter.

Eurac, an influential European advocacy network, has expressed interesting recommendations on the current scenario, mainly advocating for less military muscle and more negotiation. This is not an easy thing to say now, though, because we are knowing  that the FDLR keeps on killing civilians. However, let´s make this clear: the FDLR are not the only negative forces in this war, no matter how many times Rwanda has tried to label them with this term. All armed groups involved in this war are more than negative (Filip Reytnjens expressed the spiral of violence in the Great Lakes region after the genocide with a very lucid sentence: “this is not a story of good guys fighting bad guys. This a story of bad guys”).

Following the on-going diplomatic plan, Rwanda affirmed yesterday what most Congolese citizens wanted to hear: that Rwandan troops will leave the country this same week. “Tomorrow [for today] they are going to issue (the orders). They will begin pulling back slowly,” a Rwandan spokesman said yesterday. He said that the withdrawal will be completed for next Wednesday.

The problem is: if Rwandan armed forces really leave, how are the FARDC suppose to hold their current position in the front line?

Many people in this part of the world remember the last time Rwandan forces left the Kivus. An expression was coined that time. People said that Rwandan soldiers “left through the main entrance and came back through the back window“. This is to say, they continued their presence in Congolese soil in a more disguised, but real, way. Many Congolese fear this could be the case again.

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