Thursday, May 2, 2013

DR Congo: No time for half measures.

Military push not sole way to end Congo conflict -UN envoy

                                            Mary Robinson UN secretary general’s special envoy for the Great Lakes 

GOMA, Democratic Republic of Congo - A military solution is not the only way to end decades of conflict in eastern Congo, the newly appointed United Nations special envoy to the region said on Tuesday as the world body prepared to bolster its peacekeeping mission there.

It would seem that the military solution is the one that has found the most favour in Kinshasa and with the UN Security Council. The Irish Times goes as far as to describe it as ;

" UN resolution 2098 provides for an “intervention brigade” within Monusco with the responsibility of “neutralising armed groups”. This aggressive military mandate has led to concern that yet more civilians will suffer in the fall-out of Monusco confrontations with militia in eastern DRC."

Former Irish president Mary Robinson was visiting the region for the first time since being appointed U.N. special envoy charged with helping bring an end to the violence, which has left millions dead and the mineral-rich nation in ruins. 

The latest year-long rebellion to sweep the Democratic Republic of Congo's eastern borders has prompted the U.N. to add a 3,000-strong "intervention force" to its existing 17,000-strong mission. 

The so-called Force Intervention Brigade (FIB) is the first of its kind from the traditional peacekeeping force and is charged with neutralising rebel militias, but Robinson said it must not detract from the search for a sustainable political solution.

Jason Sterns at Congo Siasa actually points to the considerable political risks deploying the Intervention Brigade entails.

"The brigade is expected to deploy by June or July (around the same time as drones), with its base in Sake and operations probably beginning in the following months. But, despite the aggressive media campaign waged by M23 against the brigade, its political importance is likely to be as hefty as its (few) helicopter gunships and armed personnel carriers. As one Rwandan official put it to me: "Imagine the M23 kill ten South Africans. It doesn't matter whether we support the M23 or not, Zuma will blame us."The brigade forms a sort of political firewall––if the M23 puts it to shame, it will draw in some of the most powerful countries in the region into the conflict."

I  think that the African Intervention Brigade will have to provide an effective military solution to the rebel issues for any political solution to be implemented. MONUSCO to date has cost billions of dollars and achieved nothing of note. The last thing the people of the Eastern DR Congo need is individual nation states seeking to establish a hegemony over the region. They have been there many times before, in modern history we can start with Belgium and end with Rwanda and remembering the millions of Congolese lives lost. 

"There's no doubt these armed groups have to be dealt with, but I think it's important that this does not become a focus on a military solution, (and) that we're implementing the political steps that have been committed to," she said during a visit to the city of Goma, the epicentre for the recent fighting. 

Robinson was appointed to support the implementation of a peace framework signed by 11 heads of state in Addis Ababa earlier this year.

I hope the Intervention Brigade is armed to the teeth and very capable. 

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