As it happens…Strange times in the Congo (10/12/12)

I’ll just give up apologising for not being here, it’s been a month and twelve days since my last foray into politics.

Sir Patrick Moore, the popular astronomer, sadly died recently; Kate Middleton’s pregnancy appears to grow more fraught by the day. Oh, and until about two weeks ago UK aid money was funding the ambitions of a tyrant…

English: President Paul Kagame of Rwanda at th...

Paul Kagame: “Give me your money, and I will steal my neighbour’s tin reserves.”

Something stinks in the Democratic Republic of Congo, and it smells like paramilitaries. It all hinges on a group called M23 and its merry, rapacious romp about the eastern Congo. For years now, paramilitary groups have been engaging the Congolese army; we cannot necessarily blame the Rwandan government for this. What we can do is raise an eyebrow to reports of the Rwandan military sometimes popping over the border to help out their countrymen. That’s right, soldiers of a sovereign territory sneaking into another sovereign territory to do some good, old fashioned plunder of mineral wealth. A particularly interesting episode involving disarmed refugees in peace talks with The Congo, a Secret Accord, and an eensie weensie war crime makes for interesting reading (spoiler alert: the Rwandan Special Forces attacked the refugees).

But wait! Where does aid money come into all this? I hear you cry, or rather recall with vague interest. After looking into the amount of budget aid the UK provides for Rwanda, it would have been £16 million this month, I got to thinking whether all of the money meant to be helping Rwanda’s poor isn’t being used to fund a private war. Mutineers from the Congolese army are those who Rwandan President Paul Kagame and his government levels the blame at, saying that M23 is armed with Congolese weapons and munitions. Partly true. Also true is that they are led by renegade Tutsi general Bosco Ntaganda – who has been dubbed the Terminator. He’s a lot like the actual Terminator, except for not being Austrian and not pretending to be a sociopath, though may very well have slept with his housekeeper: I can only conjecture as to that. Equally as true, if strenuously denied by the Rwandan top leadership, is just how much gentle encouragement Rwanda has given to M23. Including the arming, uniforming and reinforcement of these rebels in lead up to a certain attack…

It’s not bad enough mad dog Bosco “Terminator” Ntaganda was rushing about North Kivu province (extremely rich with minerals) to commit some more crimes against humanity, but a letter from UN experts suggests that General Emmanuel Ruvusha had been sent by the Rwandan government to help coordinate attacks in North Kivu province. All culminating in the embarrassing capture of Goma on November 20th, the million strong provincial capital, which saw the Congolese army stationed there essentially do a runner.

שטר של 100 פרנק, רואנדה, 1989. צילמתי.

Money, money, money…straight to guns.

At this point, donor after donor thought it pertinent to suspend aid to Rwanda until it can be proven that the money they are giving is not used to fund more pillage. Rwandan Foreign Minister Louise Mushikiwabo was not best pleased by the insinuations about her nation’s integrity, perhaps because the UN implicates one of her colleagues as being in charge of rebel action. Nice to see politicians being really hands on. M23 has finally relinquished its hold on Goma, and the Congolese army strolls back to the city barracks, donuts in their hands no doubt like incompetent peacekeepers the world over.

Short on time so can’t begin to cover nearly all of what I wanted to, but I’ve a parting thought. Why is that it has taken so very long for this to spill into the realms of popular reportage? Maybe accidentally funding a tyrant’s sustained rise is something of an embarrassment. Better late than never though! Eh?

P.S. Who’s been keeping an eye on Syria, Iran and Egypt lately? Ethnic strife may be Syria’s newest ill, Iran has sped up its rate of executions (when the cat’s away…), and Egypt’s president is pulling a Nazi regime on his country’s constitution. Keep your eyes peeled people.

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