Reports coming out of eastern DRC are that its army, FARDC, and one out of a slew of rebel factions in the country, M23, are in the thick of a flare-up of fighting again, after a short lull. As is always the case, just as no one knows what kind of country this mine-jungle collection is or, in fact, if it is a country at all, no one can tell exactly what’s going on.
What those in neighbouring Rwanda know is that bombs are falling in from across, followed by refugees, and that, paradoxically, DRC blames the Rwandan army (RDF) for supporting the faction. Apart from this blame from one of them, the belligerents, as they are wont to, are sending conflicting messages.
While DRC says it was aggressed but is beating off the aggressor, with a daily enemy-casualty count sometimes running in the 50s, M23 swears it was attacked in the area it controls but that it’s holding its own, without any support. Rwanda, on her part, protests the bombing.
In this kerfuffle there is a neutral observer whose duty it is to soberly take in the situation so as to save any civilians that may fall victim to this fight’s outfall. The UN peacekeeping team, MONUSCO, hasn’t been watching the situation for a short time.
This humongous organisation has been watching the situation and its millions of victims for close to twenty years. And its equal number of thousands-strong contingency has been living on billions of dollars, with nothing to show for it. Whether the whole mess has ever bothered it, it alone knows. But, by the look of things, not in the least.
Unfortunately, the DRC government, again if it exists, which is equally strongly in doubt, has not helped matters. Its Mende – hopefully not in Kiswahili, in which it means an insalubrious insect in the Blattaria order! – as the spokesman assures everybody that there is no war between FARDC and M23; the war is between FARDC and RDF.
Surely, if what Bwana Mende asserts is true, it makes for the most cynical of comedies. As of now, news trickling in is that FARDC elements are running to Rwanda for cover, from M23! Only our Mende holds the key to the truth of whether it’s M23 ghosts (more than 70, per Mende) putting them to flight but, the way Congolese are known to be superstitious, I wouldn’t put it past them.
For their sake, though, these elements would do themselves a lot of good if they forgot that favourite hobby of theirs, when on their territory. In their flight to Rwanda, if they claim one rape victim – just one! – it’ll surprise no one if they find themselves bundled off to Kinshasa, with their FARDC and DRC government, wherever their disorganised presence may be in DRC.
For, make no mistake, there are taboos that are not indulged in Rwanda, if these dear neighbours value their lives.
And talking of the value of lives, where is the concern for the lives of these brothers and sisters in DRC? Surely, who should be asked to answer for the killing, the maiming, the raping, the dislocation and all abuses suffered by the innocents? Who is the criminal standing watch and not being asked to account? Who is it that should be put to the cross by the world?
By ignoring the DRC government and blaming two neighbours (Uganda and Rwanda) for its misery, when actually they’ve shown concern, the international community has encouraged the DRC government to bask in its impotence and to content itself with blaming others.
The two countries managed to bring DRC and M23 to the negotiating table, which the moribund UN body has never pulled off. When the two sought the involvement of the rest of the Great Lakes Region countries and there was hope, now the UN has quickly stepped in to dash their effort.
The UN’s touted “intervention brigade”, if at all it hopes to bring a solution, which is equally strongly in doubt, is taking for ever to take off. The talks initiated by Uganda, Rwanda and DRC are grinding to a halt, the spinoff of which is well known: death and displacement of innocents. Meanwhile, the attempt by the Great Lakes Region countries at making sense of the DRC problem has been dealt a death blow – by the UN. Surely, if this is not criminal, what is?
Now we are left with the unsolicited and uncleanly entertainment of the histrionics of this Mende (Mende, Membe, an interesting duo!) Maybe the show would have been appreciated if there hadn’t once been a superior one, on a different continent, from one Muhammad Saeed al-Sahhaf, alias Comical Ali.
Those who remember Saddam Hussein’s war with USA know that, unlike Lambert Mende, Comical Ali would not have stooped to the indignity of parading his own national beauties as being Rwandan soldiers disguised as women.
How low can you stoop, DRC and your Mende, in the name of pleasing this ineffective UN outfit! And the UN, when it sees the blood it’s wading in, wherefrom does it get the courage to claim legitimacy from this, our world?