By Kambale Musavuli
Two dominant forces have fueled the conflict in Congo: a weak presidential regime in Kinshasa that lacks legitimacy and an aggressive interventionist neighbor in Rwanda that seeks influence in Eastern Congo.
The United States must impose sanctions on top-level Rwandan and Ugandan officials while withholding military aid.
The response from the international community has not been commensurate with the dire conditions faced by the Congolese people. In spite of several United Nations reports that document the role that Congo’s neighbors (Rwanda and, to a lesser extent, Uganda) have played in arming, training and financing the destructive M23 proxy militia inside Congo, the reaction from the international community has been tepid at best and equivocal at worst.
For enduring peace to have a chance, two conditions must be met: First, a Congolese state responsive to the interests of its people and capable of exercising authority over the entire country must emerge; and second, there should be a nonviolent dismantling of the Rwandan-backed militias in Eastern Congo.
The United States and other external players can help this happen by:
• Imposing sanctions on top-level Rwandan and Ugandan officials while withholding military aid.
• Bringing an end to Rwandan president Paul Kagame’s 16-year carte-blanche in the east of Congo. Implementing key provisions of the law (P.L. 109-456) that was sponsored by Senator Barack Obama in 2005 would be a step in the right direction.
• Ceasing the militarization and support of strongmen in the region that date to the Clinton administration. President Obama must live up to his Ghana speech and fall squarely on the side of democracy and strong institutions as opposed to militarism and strongmen.
Source: New York Times