Dangerous aggravation of the situation in Congo


On the urgent appeal of Denis Mukwege


by Dr Peter Küpfer


The undemocratic “Democratic Republic of the Congo” (Ex-Zaïre) does not come to rest. The state is quasi bankrupt, the army corrupt, the police according to credible sources rather a factor of chaos production than as a guardian of law and order. In the east of the country, murder, terror, rape and chaos are prevailing for more than 20 years, kept going by anonymous militias, who are logistically supported, instructed and armed by Rwanda according to credible and independent sources. These militias do everything to terrorize the civilian population and to make a normal life impossible. Whole regions of land have by now been abandoned and deserted. As experts of the situation testify, exactly this desertion was aimed for. Superficially it is purely economic: The two provinces south and north of Lake Kivu (North Kivu and South Kivu) contain countless mines with highly coveted resources, including the famous coltan (columbite tantalite), without which no mobile phone and no computer function. As independent sources confirm, many of these mines are not registered and are exploited “wild”, backed up by the machine guns of the militias in Rwandan services. The remainder of the mines is to be exploited even under the covert protection of forces of the Congolese army itself. In the meantime, the formerly poor Rwanda, which itself has no mineral resources, has become an important diamond exporter and coltan supplier worldwide. This sudden abundance can be accurately dated in time: It started at the same time as the attacks of so-called rebels in 1996, when a cruel war brought the Kabila dynasty into power.


Kasaï: Is the Kivu model repeated?


Members of the Congolese opposition have been pointing out for years that this is a major reason why the Congolese army has never effectively stopped the raging of the militias in these areas. The other reason rests in geostrategy. There are voices in the West speaking of a “division of the Congo”. An aim the government in Rwanda also seems to have in view. A strong East Congolese country – with the inclusion of Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi, all in the hand of the Tutsi, the elitist ethnic group, by military means and with dubious democratic legitimacy - has long been in the minds of secret services, especially the American. Since the death of dictator Mobutu, who has given the US every service, especially the long-standing privileged access to the coveted raw materials, they are looking for a just as solid substitute. Looking at the tormented history of the Congo, the goal in this country and its neighbours seems indeed to be in a “logic”, even though this logic is diabolic and has cost human victims of several million innocents in recent years, mostly civilians, women and children: weaken the lucrative eastern territories of the Congo by permanent unrest and finally separate them from the rest of the Congo to integrate them into a newly emergent East African super-state, which would then be wholly controlled by the US and its economic and geo-strategical interests.

Popular uprising or civil war?

In the meantime the frustrations and tensions in the Congolese realm have reached dangerous proportions. It is all about the question of the arbitrarily “extended” term of office of President Joseph Kabila. He persistently refuses, and contrary to the current constitution, to resign and organize new elections. Since 19 December last year, the president of the colossus rests on clay feet and thus in an open breach of the constitution. This makes Joseph Kabila another “illegal president”, who is likely to cling to the presidency, among other things, because he is trying to escape the – by the opposition and the UN – long-sought investigation of his role in the two recent Congo wars, similar to Mugabe in Zimbabwe. Meanwhile, representatives of the Congolese Bishops’ Conference, who are constantly, intermittently and cautiously intervening, raise also alarm: “Only a popular uprising can save this country,” its spokesman Abbé Nshole recently stated in a long interview with the newspaper “MO International News”. It is said – as was emphasised – to be carried out with peaceful manifestations throughout the country. The opposition points to the most disturbing current course of events in the giant Kasaï province. There terrorist attacks on the civilian population are repeated according to the “pattern” of the 20-year-old suffering in Kivu. There, too, are so-called militias, having nothing else to do but expel the civilian population with brutal attacks. In the meantime, courageous resistance members have found numerous mass graves. Today, Congolese independent media (such as Radio Okapi) confirm that their excavation was partly done by soldiers of the Congolese national army. If events develop according to the model of the North and South Kivu, the danger of a civil war is given.

The situation is serious


The appeal is marked by the seriousness of the current situation. It comes from the human rights activist and gynecologist Denis Mukwege, acting with courage and energy. The physician operating in Bukavu studied in Burundi and France and was a doctor in the region of Lemera (territory of Uvira, South Kivu) during the invasion of the militias controlled by Rwanda in 1996. Only by a miracle did he escape a planned murder by the Soldateska. He then installed himself in Panzi (quarter in Bukavu, capital of South Kivu) where a hospital could be built, supported by aid organisations. The clinic is specialised since 10 years in the treatment of women who have survived a rape. Internationally esteemed, Dr Mukwege is often invited to give lectures and stands out in his dedicated votums as a defender of human rights, peace and democracy.     •