The International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR) just concluded in Kampala, Uganda after spending a few days debating on the security situation in Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). As expected, the 8 heads of states (Francois Bozize of Central African Republic, Joseph Kabila Kabange of DRC, Paul Kagame of Rwanda, Pierre Nkurunziza of Burundi, Mwai Kibaki of Kenya, Omar Hassan Ahmed El Bashir of Sudan, Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete of Tanzania and Yoweri Kaguta Museveni of Uganda) along with the Minister of Cooperation of Angola, on the behalf of Jose Eduardo Dos Santos, the Minister of Defense of the Republic of the Congo on the behalf of Denis Sassou-Nguesso, and the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Zambia, on the behalf of Michael Chilufya Sata, talked, debated, argued, threatened, confided, and left each with what other wasteful initiatives do: setting up new committees until the next similar meeting.
Called to resolve a crisis, this is what they decided to:
- Undertake vigorous efforts
- Support the efforts of the DRC
- Establish a sub-committee composed mainly of Defense ministers of the alleged DRC aggressors, i.e Rwanda and Uganda whose mandate of is:
- to propose urgent actionable steps to ensure that fighting stops completely to allow for consolidation of peace, security and stability;
- to also provide details on the operationalization of the neutral International Force;
The Subcommittee of Ministers is to be chaired by the Minister of Defense of the Republic of Uganda, one of the alleged aggressors.
There is something that even Joseph Kabila’s critics should admire. President Joseph Kabila had the courage to sit between Rwandan Dictator Paul Kagame and Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, in Kampala. However, for outside observers, either Joseph Kabila is part of the DRC aggressors, or he is so desperate that his is willing to travel to the capital of one his aggressors and shake the hand of all his alleged nemeses.
Based on the information AfroAmerica Network received from sources who were participating to the Summit, it appears that Joseph Kabila has rather grown desperate following a spate of defeats and setbacks that his army FARDC has suffered in the last few months, on the hand of M23 and other rebels supported by Rwandan Defense Forces and Ugandan Defense Forces.
According to the sources, during the Kampala Summit Paul Kagame tried to argue, point-blank, that the problem in the DRC was due to the Rwandan rebels known as Democratic Liberation Forces of Rwanda (FDLR). Then Joseph Kabila stood up, filled with visible anger but calm, and said the following, verbatim:
“You President Paul Kagame, if you are really honest, you need to remember that in late 2008 and early 2009, we sat down and agreed that you be allowed to send troops to the DRC, use all the weapons in your arsenal, including the ones you mentioned and that I do not want to repeat here, and erase the FDLR from the face of the earth. It is on this basis that you sent the troops into the DRC, in what was known as the Umoja Wetu FARDC-RDF military operations. I took serious political risks, just so that the FDLR excuse never be used again. Did you achieve these objectives of erasing the FDLR from the face of the earth? Then admit that the FDLR is not the issue. And I believe the FDLR is not really the issue. We both know where the issue is.”
According to the AfroAmerica Network sources, all the heads of states, government representatives, ICGL officials and observers present in the room were take back by Joseph Kabila’s courage to confront General Paul Kagame so openly. General Paul Kagame stood silent and never talked again. The FDLR mention was removed from the final statement. Only the “so-called M-23” was kept.
It is clear Joseph Kabila won the debate and perhaps his trip to Kampala brought something good. However, the trip may raise questions on his diplomatic wisdom in general.
- Why did he accept that the summit be held in Uganda, one of the aggressors? Why did he not require that the Summit be held in Tanzania, Kenya, or Angola or even at the UN headquarters in New York City?
- Why did he travel to Kampala, instead of sending a low level government official? Can anyone think about a British Prime Minister traveling to Berlin during World War II? One head of state made the same mistake, that ultimately cost him his life: General Juvenal Habyarimana of Rwanda.
- Why did he sign a document that provides for the Sub-commitee to composed of Rwanda, Uganda and Burundi and led by Uganda?
The culprit and the troublemaker in the Great Lakes region is known: The Rwandan Dictator General Paul Kagame, a master of shifting the blame, manipulation and intrigues. Joseph Kabila may be commendable for standing up to Paul Kagame’s bullying tactics. However, by traveling to Uganda and signing the document, he may have paid a heavy diplomatic price with effects hard to predict.
Joseph Kabila has a strength that very few heads of states have: promise a lot, deliver very little, and get away with it. Perhaps, it is with that same spirit that he attended the EXTRAORDINARY SUMMIT OF THE HEADS OF STATE AND GOVERNMENT in Kampala and signed the: DECLARATION OF THE HEADS OF STATE AND GOVERNMENT OF THE MEMBER STATES OF THE INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE ON THE GREAT LAKES REGION (ICGLR) ON THE SECURITY SITUATION IN EASTERN DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO (DRC).
Will he succeed?
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