The Gate Keeper:
Kagame, the RPF, and the M23, what do they all have in common?
President Paul Kagame, is a man of infamous history. He was part of the military party that captured Kigali in July of 1994 to end what is known widely as the Rwandan genocide. However, the same Rwandan President was accused of ordering the surface-to-air-missile that murdered the then acting Rwandan President, Juvénal Habyarimana, and Burundian President Cyprien Ntaryamira, which effectively began the genocide.
If the allegations are true, Kagame orchestrated a bloody governmental coupe that left him on top literally in place to become president of Rwanda. While he has since gained the respect of the international community for the success Rwanda has become since the genocide, there are still those who suspect his motives.
A Spanish indictment alleges that the RPF military, the military power that reports to Kagame, were in violation of several counts of genocide and human rights violations in Rwanda, but also in the Democratic Republic of Congo from 1990-2000. Why?
A UN report on the Illegal Exploitation of Other Forms of Wealth in the DRC sites three reasons: a number of Rwandan companies that have ties to DRC resources seem to be controlled by the RPF, Rwandan Patriotic Front, Kagame’s political party. Secondly, Kagame’s personal position in the State has evolved making him an important player in the control of Congolese resources because of his control over the military; his relationship with Rwandan businesses operating over the border in Congo and various structures that support illegal activities has strengthened. Lastly, Kagame and his administration have indirectly established climate conducive to illegal exploitation of natural resources.
Now that the DRC is in turmoil with the rebel M23 rebel forces holding the northern DRC region against government forces, Kagame’s name and administration is under suspicion again. This time, Kagame’s administration may have organized, recruited, and armed the rebel M23 forces.
Of course Kagame has vehemently denied any involvement in the chaos in DR Congo and has said Rwanda has nothing to gain from such madness. The question, however, is whether that is true.
While Rwanda may not have anything to gain, Kagame and his associates, if the UN report are to be believed, may. Governmental upheaval creates a perfect setting for continued exploitation of a nation rich in natural resources like DRC. If that is the case, the aggressive actions of the UN might make sense.
Currently, UN forces seem to be doing more than simply protecting civilians by returning rebel fire in civilian zones. Preemptive strikes have been taken against rebel forces, the same rebels allegedly tied to Kagame. Without these strikes and strategic movements by the UN forces, the Congolese government would not be able to fight back as effectively as they have.
It would seem that the UN has taken a side in this fight, but the question is whether this is simply a result of a broadly read mandate that allows UN forces to protect innocent civilians, or whether this is actually an opportunity for a collective push back against further exploitations by a questionable Rwandan regime lead by a questionable Kagame. As with politics we don’t have most of the answers but it is still worth asking some questions.
We know history is written by those with the most influence, power, and money. Whose version of history should we believe right now Kagame, the UN, Congo?
Who are we not hearing from in this political conflict and is the absence of that voice intentional or incidental, and does it matter?
What does the struggle for power in DR of Congo tell us about how African nations work for or against one another?
If the allegations against Kagame are to be believed, what should be done, by whom and how?
Even if Kagame is in fact using his influence to arm and spur on M23 in DR of Congo, should the UN take such a broad reading of their mandate to protect civilians as a way to fight against M23?
We know that other nations routinely take advantage of the African continent’s resources, who would you prefer take advantage; your neighboring African nation, or an outsider like the UK, US, or China?
For further exploration into the conflict in Congo check out the videos and pieces here:http://www.aljazeera.com/video/africa/2012/08/20128825149263825.html