End the Impunity in Eastern Congo: Hold US Ally to Account


The United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the DR Congo (MONUSCO ) recently revealed that the Rwandan government has a hand in the current instability in eastern Congo by giving support to the rebel groups National Congress for the Defense of the People (CNDP) and/or M23. This does not come as news to those who follow Congolese politics. Since 1996, the Rwandan government has acted as a major destabilizing force in the east of the Congo. Myriad studies and reports have documented how the Rwandan government has waged proxy wars through rebel groups, pilfering of Congo’s resources and trading in hundreds of millions of dollars of conflict minerals.

The report by MONUSCO is not surprising, but the carte blanche that the Rwandan government enjoys, especially at the international level, continues to boggle the mind. It would appear that the more Rwanda destabilizes the Congo, the more military equipment, training, intelligence and financial aid the government gets from its donors in the West. Timothy Reid’s prescient article in the Harvard Policy Journal entitled Killing Them Softly: Has Foreign Aid to Rwanda and Uganda Contributed to the Humanitarian Tragedy in the Democratic Republic of Congo? captures the scale of the impunity with which the Rwandan government has operated in Congo with the full backing of its donors.

A staunch ally of the United States and the United Kingdom, the Rwandan government has benefited tremendously from the diplomatic cover and protection that accompanies its relationship with such powerful nations –former New York Times reporter, Howard French explains. 

The United States has a law on its books that supporters of the Rwandan government both inside and outside the US government would wish to disappear. The Democratic Republic of The Congo Relief, Security and Democracy Promotion Act (PL 109-456), sponsored by Barack Obama and Co-Sponsored by Hillary Clinton when they were both Senators, was signed into law in 2006 by President Bush.

Section 105 of Public Law 109-456 says “The Secretary of State is authorized to withhold assistance made available under the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 (22 U.S.C. 2151 et seq.), other than humanitarian, peacekeeping, and counterterrorism assistance, for a foreign country if the Secretary determines that the government of the foreign country is taking actions to destabilize the Democratic Republic of the Congo.”

Following a United Nations group of experts report published in 2008documenting Rwanda’s support for the CNDP and its leader at the time, Laurent Nkunda, Sweden and Netherlands did what the United States has not done to date; they held the Rwandan government to account by withholding financial aid. Subsequently, Rwanda demobilized the CNDP and placed Laurent Nkunda under house arrest only to replace him with Bosco Ntaganda as head of the CNDP. Now that Ntaganda has become toxic as a result of increasing demands that he should be brought to the International Criminal Court (ICC) where he is wanted for war crimes in the Congo, there is now an attempt to replace him with Sultani Makenga. Noted scholar of the region Rene LeMarchand stated in the Fall/Winter 2009, Brown Journal of World Affairs that Rwanda is a central actor who will determine whether the region is characterized by peace or war.

Allowing more to die and add to the millions of Congolese already lost to the war and instability of the last fifteen years is unconscionable. It is time that the international community and Rwanda’s allies, especially the United States, hold the Rwandan government to account. A good start would be to implement Section 105 of PL 109-456.

Sign Petition
Sign this petition and let President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton know that you stand for peace in the Congo and the Great Lakes region of Africa. http://www.change.org/petitions/fully-implement-public-law-109-456

Contact the U.S. State Department, The White House and members of Congress and request that they hold the Rwandan government accountable for its actions in the Congo.

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