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This document is from the archive of the Africa Policy E-Journal, published by the Africa Policy Information Center (APIC) from 1995 to 2001 and by Africa Action from 2001 to 2003. APIC was merged into Africa Action in 2001. Please note that many outdated links in this archived document may not work.

Congo (Kinshasa): Peace Update Congo (Kinshasa): Peace Update
Date distributed (ymd): 020801
Document reposted by Africa Action

Africa Policy Electronic Distribution List: an information service provided by AFRICA ACTION (incorporating the Africa Policy Information Center, The Africa Fund, and the American Committee on Africa). Find more information for action for Africa at http://www.africaaction.org

+++++++++++++++++++++Document Profile+++++++++++++++++++++

Region: Central Africa
Issue Areas: +political/rights+ +security/peace+ +US policy focus+

SUMMARY CONTENTS:

This posting contains an update from the UN's Integrated Regional Information Networks summarizing the latest agreement aimed at ending the conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo, as well as a press release and letter from U.S. NGOs calling on the U.S. to take more active steps to support peace and human rights in that country.

Another related posting today contains new material released on the responsibility of the U.S. for the death more than 40 years ago of Congo's first elected prime minister, Patrice Lumumba.

For additional commentary on the peace agreement, see http://allafrica.com/congo_kinshasa, and particularly the allafrica.com interviews with Presidents Paul Kagame of Rwanda and Joseph Kabila of the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Pretoria Pact "A Positive Step", Says Rwandan President July 31, 2002
http://allafrica.com/stories/200207310226.html

Kabila Says He Wants Peace and Will Get It
July 31, 2002
http://allafrica.com/stories/200207310002.html

+++++++++++++++++end profile++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Kabila, Kagame Sign Peace Pact

UN Integrated Regional Information Networks
http://www.irinnews.org

July 30, 2002

Presidents Paul Kagame of Rwanda and Joseph Kabila of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) signed an agreement on Tuesday to end to the conflict between their two countries.

A memorandum of understanding and a timescale for the implementation of the accord were signed in Pretoria, South Africa, in the presence of South African President Thabo Mbeki, chairman of the African Union (AU); Malawi President Bakili Muluzi; South African Deputy President Jacob Zuma; South African Foreign Minister Nkosazana Dlamini; Deputy Special Representative of the U Secretary-General to the DRC Lena Sundh; and members of the diplomatic corps accredited to South Africa.

Speaking on the South African Broadcasting Corporation from the ceremony at the presidential guesthouse in Pretoria, Kabila said, "Today must be considered as a great day for the whole of Africa, one step more towards the sustainable development of the continent.

"The Congolese people, their government, and I are determined to live in harmony with the nine countries with which we share borders."

Kabila gave assurances that his government would apply "in all good faith" today's commitments, adding, "If there is any failure of this agreement, it won't be because of a failure on the part of the DRC government."

He called on the "entire international community", including the U and its Security Council in particular, to support peace in the region, and thanked "all those who never ceased giving their energy so that this day would arrive".

For his part, Kagame called the accord "a big step in the direction of resolving the conflict in the DRC, Burundi, Rwanda, among other countries".

He said: "This agreement is important in many aspects, as it addresses two of the core issues that underlie conflict in the region - one, how to deal with the ex-FAR [former Rwandan armed forces] and Interahamwe [Hutu extremist militia] and two, it paves the way for the withdrawal of forces who are involved in this conflict from the DRC."

However, he warned that the agreement would not succeed without the support of the entire continent of Africa and the entire international community.

"As the international community has historically been part of the problem, they must be part of the solution," he said. He accused the international community of having provided "more lip service than application of its capacities" to bring peace to the region.

Kagame closed his speech saying, "On behalf of my country, I wish to express that Rwanda is ready to fulfil its part of the obligation as agreed in this Memorandum of Understanding."

Following the signing of the documents, Mbeki promised that the AU, the UN and South Africa would all help to implement the accord.

The peace agreement commits the DRC to locating and disarming Rwandan Interahamwe Hutu militias and ex-FAR - the forces responsible for the 1994 genocide in Rwanda who remain active in the DRC; collaborating with the UN Mission in the DRC (known by its French acronym, MONUC) to dismantle the Interahamwe and ex-FAR; and repatriating all Rwandan ex-combatants to Rwanda, including some 2,000 presently at a UN base in Kamina, Katanga Province, southeastern DRC.

As for Rwanda, its government agreed to withdraw its troops from the DRC "as soon as effective measures have been taken to address security concerns in the DRC, in particular the dismantling of the Interahamwe and ex-FAR", an official statement from the Rwandan capital, Kigali, said.

A 90-day programme for the implementation of the agreement has been outlined and agreed upon by both countries.

Meanwhile, the Ugandan government-owned daily newspaper, The New Vision, reported on Monday that a new peace plan for the DRC involving the Rwandan-backed rebel Rassemblement congolais pour la democratie (RCD-Goma) was being developed.

"The new arrangement, which is geared towards the formation of an acceptable interim administration, is in advanced stages," James Wapakhabulo, the Ugandan third deputy prime minister, was quoted by the paper as saying. He said Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni was in touch with his counterparts in Kigali and the DRC capital, Kinshasa, on the new arrangement.

Under the arrangement, Kabila would remain the interim president and have two vice-presidents - one from RCD-Goma and the other from the Mouvement de liberation du Congo of Jean-Pierre Bemba. The new plan would supersede the 19 April accord reached at the conclusion of the inter-Congolese dialogue in Sun City, South Africa, by which Kabila would serve as president and Bemba as his prime minister.

Last week, Museveni briefed Bemba on the new initiative; however, sources told The New Vision that Bemba had not yet accepted it.


PRESS RELEASE

Contact: Carole Collins, Senior Policy Analyst, Africa Faith & Justice Network [for the Advocacy Network on Africa Congo Working Group]: 202-328-0761

Suleiman Baldo, Senior Researcher/Africa Div, Human Rights Watch: 212-216-1297

Tuesday, 30 July 2002

CONGO-RWANDA PEACE ACCORD WELCOME BUT NOT ENOUGH; NGOS URGE GREATER U.S. DIPLOMATIC ACTION ON CONGO HUMAN RIGHTS, GOVERNANCE ISSUES

(Washington, DC)- On the day that the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and Rwanda signed a UN/South African-brokered peace pact intended to resolve their hostilities, U.S. NGOs called on the Bush Administration to direct greater and more forceful "diplomatic attention to the Congo's human rights and governance as well as security issues."

The NGOs, in a 30 July 2002 letter to U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell, welcomed the two governments' specific undertakings to resolve their conflict and their inviting the U.N. and South Africa to monitor implementation of the peace agreement. But without rapid progress towards achieving a comprehensive power-sharing agreement that includes Congolese civil society, the NGOs warn, the climate of mistrust and uncertainty prevailing in the DRC may undercut the political momentum generated by today's peace agreement.

Signers of the letter assert that the U.S. "government's public silence on human rights issues has fed the perception among many Congolese that the U.S. de facto supports the belligerents." While welcoming extension of the U.S. Rewards for Justice initiative - to arrest the organizers of the 1994 Rwandan genocide - to the DRC, the NGOs maintain that "our government's public silence on bringing to justice perpetrators of violence against civilians in the Kivus, especially those killed by Rwandan-backed forces in Kisangani this past May, has outraged many Congolese."

The letter highlights two areas where more active U.S. diplomacy could be effectively focused:

  • seeking to end conflicts and extensive human rights abuses in the eastern Congo, a region largely controlled by rebel forces assisted by Rwandan and Ugandan military forces; andN
  • pressing the DRC government to end all support for groups and individuals clearly implicated in the 1994 Rwandan genocide and ensuring the Rwandan government does not exploit loopholes in the peace accord to undermine its implementation. Signers of the letter have requested to meet with Secretary Powell to discuss these concerns and other issues related to the war in the DRC, including the need for greater US political and financial support for the U.N. presence and human rights monitoring in the eastern Congo.

Among signers of the letter to Powell [see attached] are Protestant, Catholic and Jewish groups, human rights and advocacy organizations and community-based groups. Several support civil society programs in the DRC.

Text of NGO letter to Colin Powell

30 July 2002

The Honorable Colin L. Powell
Secretary of State
U.S. State Department
2201 C Street, NW, Washington, DC 20520

Dear Secretary of State Powell:

Today the governments of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Rwanda signed a U.N./South African-brokered memorandum of understanding which seeks to address several core security issues. We welcome the undertakings by both parties to resolve their conflict and their asking the U.N. and South Africa to monitor implementation.

We hope the agreement will encourage those Congolese parties heretofore dependent on outside military support to move rapidly towards an inclusive power-sharing agreement that will facilitate a genuinely democratic transition. We are concerned, however, that without more forceful and sustained international - and particularly U.S. - diplomatic attention to the Congo's human rights and governance as well as security issues, the Congolese-Rwandan peace accord may increase internal tensions and conflict.

In particular we urge the U.S. government to speak out more forcefully on the deteriorating respect for human rights, continuing conflict and rising political tensions that continue to afflict millions of Congolese citizens, especially in the eastern Kivus. Without rapid progress towards an inclusive agreement on power-sharing among all Congolese, including civil society, the climate of mistrust and uncertainty that now prevails in the DRC risks provoking deeper spirals of violence that may engulf the entire country.

This climate of mistrust and uncertainty has grown since the Sun City talks, adjourned in April, failed to reach a comprehensive and inclusive agreement on security or power-sharing issues. As a result, millions of Congolese civilians have been subjected to involuntary displacements, rape, forced recruitment and summary executions.

Despite extensive documentation - by international as well as local human rights groups - of increasingly brutal violence directed against Congolese civilians and their growing vulnerability to disease and famine, the public response of the United States government has been woefully inadequate, especially given the gravity and magnitude of the suffering in the DRC. Our government's public silence on human rights issues has fed the perception among many Congolese that the U.S. de facto supports the belligerents.

We feel it is imperative that the U.S. government publicly speak out now in support of respect of human rights in general, and that it strongly condemn flagrant human rights violations whenever and wherever they occur in the DRC. Speaking out publicly on the DRC's human rights crisis at this particular moment will strengthen its credibility with Congolese citizens, many of whom believe the international community has largely ignored the deteriorating situation and erosion of their human rights. The U.S. government's public silence risks encouraging continued violations of these rights and undermining incentives for reaching an inclusive agreement on power-sharing among all Congolese.

Although the human rights situation across all of the Congo is deplorable, we want to highlight two areas of particular concern where we feel U.S. diplomatic pressure could be effectively focused:

  • the continuing conflict and human rights abuses in the areas of the country under control of rebel forces assisted by Rwandan and Ugandan troops. Violence has become endemic in the wide swath of territory under control of the Rwandan-backed Congolese Rally for Democracy (RCD) and factions of the Uganda-backed Movement for the Liberation of the Congo (MLC). Recent events clearly indicate that they enjoy little popular support. To cite a few examples:
    • In South Kivu, fighting on the high plateau continues with Congolese Banyamulenge soldiers who formerly served under the RCD now being pursued by RCD troops and their Rwandan allies. Because of the isolated nature of the area, detailed information on the conflict and its impact on civilians has been limited.
    • In Kisangani an attempted mutiny within RCD rebel ranks reportedly led to the deaths of an estimated 200 people, including many innocent civilians caught in the crossfire. There are credible reports of summary executions of soldiers and civilians whose mutilated corpses surfaced in the rapids on the Tshopo River. Catholic priests as well as civil society leaders and activists became explicit targets of RCD violence.
    • In Goma human rights activists have been harassed, detained and arrested for their human rights activities. Among those harassed was Immaculee Birhaheka, Secretary General of PAIF (Promotion and Support of Women's Initiatives, a key human rights group in the region), who is playing a vital role in the peace movement there. She was harassed after meeting with a representative of the U.S. Embassy and a member of a U.S. House Africa subcommittee Staff delegation; two other local activists who met with the delegation were detained and threatened before being released.
    • In Uturi province conflict between between Hema and Lendu ethnic groups continues to cause immense suffering for innocent civilians. Thousands of people have been displaced and recent reports allege that within the last few months as many as 500 people may have been killed.
    • A recent Human Right Watch report (The War Within the War: Sexual Violence Against Women and Girls in Eastern Congo) documents horrific abuses directed against women, particularly the frequent and systematic use of rape as a tool of war by combatants in Eastern Congo.
  • The continuing failure of the DRC government to stop all forms of support for those individuals and armed groups in this region clearly implicated in the 1994 Rwandan genocide. The DRC government has clearly failed to act to bring these genocidaires to justice. Indeed some are even currently serving as officers in the DRC army. While the Congo-Rwanda "understanding" on security issues promises to begin to address this issue, U.S. diplomatic pressure is needed to ensure that the DRC government acts effectively to bring these groups and their leaders to justice, and that the Rwandan government does not exploit loopholes in the peace accord to undermine its implementation and justify maintaining Rwanda's military presence in the Congo.

We welcome the U.S. government's decision to extend to the DRC its Rewards for Justice initiative to arrest the organisers of the 1994 Rwandan genocide. But our government's public silence on bringing to justice perpetrators of violence against civilians in the Kivus, especially those killed by Rwandan-backed forces in Kisangani this May, has outraged many Congolese.

To our knowledge the U.S. government has yet to make a public statement on the deteriorating human rights situation in the DRC, including the bloody events in Kisangani and recent events in the high plateau of South Kivu. On July 6 the Congo's National Catholic Bishops Conference, in a statement on the current political impasse in the Congo, urged the international community to promote peace in the DRC. Respect for human rights is vital to nurturing and sustaining any effective peace process in the Congo, and for reaching a comprehensive global agreement that satisfactorily addresses the critical issues for all parties.

Many of the human rights abuses have taken place in isolated portions of the Congo where independent verification of local reports is difficult, and where rebel forces have sought to expel outside observers. For this reason we urge the U.S. government to use its influence as a member of the United Nations Security Council and a member of the U.N. High Commission for Human Rights to back a significant increase in the number of the human rights monitors assigned to the Congo, including those serving with the MONUC contingent of peacekeepers. Committing more U.S. resources to strengthen the U.N. role in the eastern Congo will be vital to the success of the peace accord signed today.

We would like an opportunity to discuss with you further our concerns about the human rights situation and related issues in the DRC. A representative of the groups signing this letter, Carole Collins of the Africa Faith and Justice Network (202-832-3412 ext 2 or 202-328-0761), will contact your office in the next two weeks in the hopes of setting up a meeting where we can exchange views and perspectives on this important issue.

Sincerely,

Africa Faith and Justice Network, Washington, DC [representing 50+ Catholic religious orders with on the ground presence in Africa]; African Immigrants & Refugees Foundation, Silver Spring, MD; American Friends Service Committee, Philadelphia, PA and Washington, DC; Amnesty International USA, Washington, DC; Church of the Brethren Washington Office Conference of Major Superiors of Men, Washington, DC [representing 250 US-based Catholic religious orders and 23,000 vowed brothers and priests, ten percent of whom are serving outside the U.S., many in Africa]; International Development Exchange, San Francisco, CA; International Human Rights Law Group, Washington, DC; Kenya AIDS Intervention/Prevention Project Group/Int'l, Rhode Island, USA; Kwanzaa Arts Cooperative, Santa Cruz CA; NETWORK, A National Catholic Social Justice Lobby, Washington, DC; TransAfrica Forum, Washington, DC; Unitarian Universalist Service Committee, Cambridge, MA and Washington, DC; Union of American Hebrew Congregations; United Methodist Church, General Board of Church and Society; Washington Office on Africa [sponsored by 12 national Protestant and Catholic religious groups]; Washington State Africa Network Women's International League for Peace and Freedom/United States Section Washington, DC; Wo'se Community Church of The Sacred African Way, Oakland, CA


This material is being reposted for wider distribution by Africa Action (incorporating the Africa Policy Information Center, The Africa Fund, and the American Committee on Africa). Africa Action's information services provide accessible information and analysis in order to promote U.S. and international policies toward Africa that advance economic, political and social justice and the full spectrum of human rights.

URL for this file: http://www.africafocus.org/docs02/conk0208.php