Dictatorships in Uganda and Rwanda: root cause of Eastern Congo crisis

The ongoing crisis in Eastern Congo has been raising countless discussions on possible solutions in different circles.

We have witnessed donors cutting or delaying their aid to Rwanda.

This was after UN experts found the country guilty of strongly supporting M23, the Congolese rebel group responsible of the current humanitarian crisis created in the region since the fighting started in April of this year.

In addition, as of mid-July, at the AU summit held in Addis Ababa, it was decided to set up an international force to stand between Rwanda and Democratic Republic of Congo and monitor the border.

The force would also have for mission to track and destroy “negative forces” as armed militias operating in the region are called.

The irony of the idea of having that force as neutral as possible is that Uganda and Rwanda, though alleged to be involved in supporting M23 at different degrees and despite their official denial, are almost leading in its establishment.

But US Congressmen are skeptical about the efficiency of such new force coming on top of the UN peacekeeping mission which has been operating from the particular province of North Kivu for the last 10 years at least, and is staffed with a 20,000 men force.

In their letter dated 3rd August and addressed to President Kagame, they argue that,

“… it is far from clear how that force will be implemented, and it will not ultimately address the underlying problems between Rwanda and DRC or in the broader region.”

Among these underlying problems there are undoubtedly the dictatorial regimes of Uganda and Rwanda led respectively by presidents Joweri Museveni and Paul Kagame.

The Ugandan president has been in power for 26 years.

During all those years, it would be a gargantuan task to evoke all atrocities committed under his leadership from the time he went in the bush in 1981 after being democratically defeated and starting a war to seize power by force.

The Rwandan president, who has 18 years as the strong man of his country, has been mentored by Museveni while serving as his Chief of Internal Intelligence service.

Crimes he is alleged to be responsible of have been documented by many international institutions including UN and Human Rights Watch.

Saying that both regimes are fundamentally undemocratic would be an understatement.

It suffices to consult records of political prisoners upheld in each country, or journalists who have been killed, exiled, or are in prisons.

Unfortunately it is not only in those areas that one needs to look at to understand how their respective leaderships are corrupt, discriminative in distributing national wealth among their citizens.

Though the recent move of several donor countries have suspended their aid to Rwanda is laudable to make Kagame rethink his persistent actions of destabilization of DRC, it does not address the root cause of never ending politics of violence and oppression Uganda and Rwanda have established in the region.

For the West not to review fundamentally their relationship with Rwanda and Uganda is considered by informed citizens of the Great Lakes region as a sign of ongoing complicity with these regimes in the misery of local populations.

I am convinced that linking efforts of improving stability in the region with tangible pressure on Kagame and Museveni to provide more political space to their non violent oppositions, and bringing all antagonists together for a dialogue on critical issues would bring more sustainable peace and development.

It is regrettable that billions of $ have been spent on MONUSCO and ICTR to achieve nothing more than an ongoing instability in the region and a state of unprecedented division between Hutus and Tutsis, particularly in Rwanda.

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