In April 2012, a number of Congolese soldiers mutinied after the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s (DRC) President Joseph Kabila decided to arrest one of the nation’s armed forces generals, Bosco Ntaganda, who is wanted by the International criminal Court (ICC). The incident became an opportunity for Rwandan President Paul Kagame to act out his plan to further destabilize the eastern provinces of North and South Kivu for what is believed by credible reports as a push for an autonomous state in eastern Congo. This would serve, a among other things, as a buffer zone in the face of threats of Hutu rebel groups to Rwanda’s stability and Paul Kagame’s regime. The DRC government and the rebels have been holding peace negotiations in Kampala, the capital of the Republic of Uganda.
Advocates for peace in DRC have recently gotten the attention of US leaders in Washington.
On October 24, 2012, President Obama extended for one year the 2006 Presidential Executive Order 13413, national emergency with respect to the situation in or in relation to the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Click here to download the excecutive order
On November 30th, the US Senate unanimously passed an amendment giving authority to the Secretary of Treasurery to block assets, the Secretary of State to deny visas, and the Secretary of Homeland Security to remove from the US anyone “that the President determines provides, … significant financial, material, or technological support to M23.”
On December 10, fourteen organizations, Africa Faith and Justice Network among them, sent a letter to President Obama characterizing U.S. quiet diplomacy to address Rwanda’s involvement in eastern D. R. Congo as old and failed policy. It has been widely publicized and referenced by US lawmakers and news media.
On December 11, the US House Subcommittee on Africa, Global health and Human Rights held a hearing on the devastating destabilization of the DRC by Rwanda. The Subcommittee Chair, Congressman Christopher Smith, started the hearing by recalling the NOG’s letter to President Obama. Lawmakers asked the Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, Ambassador Johnnie Carson why the US has not taken drastic measures including implementing US Public Law 109-456. In July, the State Department decided to withhold $200.000 in military aid to the government of Rwanda in accordance with US Public law 112-74. Wondering why European nations have imposed heavier sections against Rwanda than the US, Congressman Tom Marino asked Ambassador Carson: “ how many more people have to die before you get serious about this?” The Subcommittee’s Chairman, Christopher Smith, and the Subcommittee’s ranking member Congresswoman Karen Bass equally underscored the fact that the US has to go beyond former President Bill Clinton administration’s policy toward Rwanda and decisively address Rwanda’s ongoing destabilization of the DRC and support peace efforts for the Congolese. Click here to watch the hearing and click here to download testimonies
On December 12, the White House held an update conference call with NGO and others who care about peace in the DRC. Though it is not confirmed by the White House, we believe that the update conference call was triggered by the hearing which questioned and supported the NGO characterization of the Obama administration’s policy for the DRC as failed and suggested that on this issue the US is leading from behind once again after the Europeans.
On December 18, President Obama phoned Rwanda President Kagame and emphasized to him “the importance of permanently ending all support to armed groups in the DRC” according to a white House press release.
On December 19, Chairman McKeon of the House Armed Services Committee held a hearing on “Update on the Evolving Security Situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Implications for U.S. National Security.” click here to watch Panel I and here Panel II and click here to download testimonies
The Television Network C-SPAN has broadcast the hearings giving an opportunity to the American public and online viewers some explanation of what their tax dollars given to the Rwandan government has been doing in neighboring country, the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Likewise, US tax payers must ask their representative in Congress why they continue to fund the corrupt and inefficient Congolese government.