Congo Crisis: Rebel Nkunda has Reason to Fight

Published on 5th January 2009

My reason is not to dance on the graves of innocent Congolese, including my own young brother, Cpl. Peter Oupal, who have since perished in the bloodletting adventure between human beings driven by greed rather than grievance. If I were in General Laurent Nkunda’s shoes, what else would I have done to resolve the conflict in eastern Congo?


Imagine having participated vigorously in the campaign to rid the then Zaire of dictator Mobutu Sese Seko but end up being ‘sidelined’ by my own compatriots at the ‘eating table!’ In the absence of a convincing political solution to Congo’s problems, I would coin several reasons that would send me to the bush.


Political isolation would be my first excuse and this would be tied to the threat faced by my Tutsi ethnic group. The second reason would be the threat of depletion of Congo’s natural resources and finally, the complacency of the international community on the several attempts to resolve Congo’s crisis.


I would imagine that following the overthrow of Mobutu, we would have borrowed Ugandan President Museveni’s ‘political medicine’ of forming a government of national unity. Yes, it is said to have initially worked in Uganda and Kenya too has learnt lessons from it, although the tired looking ‘Angel’ Gabriel of Zimbabwe thrives on reneging on such pacts. I have no doubts it would push Congo to some level of sanity. As you can now all see, Kabila Jr is now busy signing business contracts personally in total disregard of other genuine economic and political activism.

Gen. Laurent Nkunda (left)


This business of a president, the top leader in a country, getting bogged down by trade negotiations, renders him incapable of controlling the army. So what do we consequently see? An undisciplined army backed by a myriad of government-sponsored militias threatening to wipe out ‘my’ Tutsi ethnic constituency. How could you expect me to sit and watch my people being decimated by rabble groups?


Also, my country is well endowed by God-given natural resources that I see being looted both by the government and its foreign friends. And since my intended anti-government campaign will be based in this vast eastern Congo, why couldn’t I take advantage of these free resources to finance my war? The looting of these resources would tie-in very well with the theories of environmental conflict. As Normal Myers correctly states, ‘If a nation’s environmental foundations are depleted ...the outcome is all too likely to be conflict’. I would also get assurance from Johann Galtung’s theory which states that “destruction of the environment may lead to more wars over resources”.


Then what happened to the Nairobi declaration and Goma agreement? Where are our so-called international partners who would facilitate the implementation of these truces? As you may know by now, those have perhaps since developed cold feet and left my people to suffer. The Nairobi declaration, according to Neil Campbell, provided for the normalisation of relations between Rwanda and Congo. It also talked of disarming the armed Rwanda Hutu rebels that participated in the genocide in Rwanda in 1994. ‘None of the guarantors of these accords had the courage to press Rwanda or Congo to respect their commitments,’ Neil stated in a press release dated November 8, 2008, in the International Herald Tribune.


Neil Campbell recently stated that ‘it is imperative for the European Union to push Rwanda and Congo to honour their commitments. The EU should not be distracted by internal negotiations on military assistance - any force will have to work with UN peacekeepers in support of a clearly defined political process. A diplomatic role for the EU is the more feasible and effective option.’


So what would I have in order to start the war? Lack of immediate response by the largest ever UN peacekeeping force would lend me an opportunity to recruit the numerous unemployed youth roaming the forests of eastern Congo. I would know that there would be no interference from such a redundant force if I launched the insurgency. The availability of a fighting force coupled with exploitable resources to finance it would be a trigger enough for me to launch the military campaign. And since there is no semblance of governance in this part of Congo, why couldn’t I use the porous borders to ‘import arms’ for my planned activities?


In order to end this carnage, there is ample time and resources to implement the Nairobi Declaration and the Goma Agreement. Short of that, the war continues.


By Lt. (Rtd) Felix Emojong


Felix Emojong [email protected]   is studying for a Master's Degree in Conflict Resolution at Lancaster University, United Kingdom.

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