Wednesday, June 19, 2013

DR Congo: Another Envoy.

Voice of America reports

US Names New Envoy to Africa's Great Lakes

                                                                       Sen. Russ Feingold

Former Senator Russell Feingold has been named the U.S. special envoy to Africa's troubled Great Lakes region.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, who announced the appointment Tuesday, said Feingold will work closely with U.N. envoy Mary Robinson to advance a U.N. framework for peace in the region.

The eastern Democratic Republic of Congo has endured years of conflict and humanitarian crisis involving militia and rebel groups, some from neighboring Rwanda and Uganda.

Kerry said that stabilizing the region and disbanding the preeminent rebel group M23 are high priorities for the Obama administration.

"We are convinced that we have to help the parties find a path to a lasting peace, to a permanent cessation of hostilities, and to the disarmament and demobilization of M23," he said.

That is going to be an interesting task given the appointment of Susan Rice as National Security Adviser.

Rice supported the multinational force that invaded Zaire (later known as the Democratic Republic of the Congo) from Rwanda in 1996 and overthrew dictator Mobutu Sese Seko, saying privately that "Anything's better than Mobutu." According to Gérard Prunier, a staffer to the Assistant Secretary said that "the only thing we have to do is look the other way," with respect to Rwanda's continued intervention. New York Times correspondent Howard W. French said that according to his sources Rice herself made the remark. In 2012 when serving as U.N. ambassador, Rice opposed efforts to publicly censure Rwandan President Paul Kagame for again supporting a Congolese rebel group, this time in the 2012 Congo conflict. The Rwandan government was a client when Rice worked at Intellibridge in 2001–02.

The DRC government has accused Rwanda and Uganda of supporting M23, which took over the city of Goma briefly last year. Rwanda and Uganda deny the accusation.

The evidence against Rwanda is fairly solid, Uganda less so.

Kerry said Feingold - who is 60 years old and served three terms as a senator from the state of Wisconsin - was known as the Senate's leading advocate and expert on Africa.

It certainly doesn't feature on his Wikipedia page.

The appointment was quickly applauded by activist group The Enough Project, which works to end crimes against humanity in Africa.

The group said Feingold must work to ensure the peace process between Congo and its neighbors addresses security, economic and refugee issues.

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