On April 16, the Subcommittee on African Affairs of the U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations held a hearing on the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) entitled “Examining Ongoing Conflict in Eastern Congo” Here are some highlights from the witnesses.
Mr. Federico Borello, Director, Investments Humanity United ,Washington, DC told Congress that “Offensive military operations by the new MONUSCO Intervention Brigade must be accompanied by a revamped Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration program and by a state-sponsored inter-community dialogue process. Ultimately, it is up to the Congolese government, civil society and people to identify the solutions to the violence that continues to plague their country, once external interference ceases. However, the international community and the USG in particular, can play an important role in facilitating this process.”
Download his full statement here
Mr. Mvemba Dizolele, Strategy and Advocacy Fellow Eastern Congo Initiative, said that “The story of the M23 (a mojor rebel group in eastern Congo) offers three simple, but important lessons. The first lesson is that rushed, ad hoc and partial security sector reform does not work. The successive attempts to integrate former rebels –the Rassemblement Congolais pour la Démocratie -Goma (RCD-G) and the Congrès National pour la Défense du Peuple (CNDP) –ducked the most difficult and most important issues. Former rebels were not vetted for human rights abuses or other crimes … The second lesson is that military integration of rebel groups cannot be a substitute for a real peace process. Past attempts at integration were a product of ad hoc peace deals reflecting the immediate imperative of conflict resolution and behind -the-scenes political compromises.” Download his full statement here
Ferdinand Muhigirwa, Jesuit Priest, Director Centre d’Etudes Pour l’Action Sociale, Kinshasa Democratic Republic of Congo pointed to the need of democracy as a path to lasting peace. He said that “Given the lack a credible electoral process in November 2011, what is urgently needed is the restoration of the confidence of the Congolese people in the electoral process through the restructuring of the electoral commission to ensure real independence, fairness and transparency of the provincial and local elections.” Africa faith and Justice Network shares this important view that governance is at the core of why the conflict in DRC has taken so long. Download his full statement here
Mr. John Prendergast, Co-founder of the Enough Project, recalled past actions by US congress regarding natural resourses from Congo and how it has impacted the dynamics of the conflict. He called for more sanctions: “The U.S. government and U.N. Security Council should place targeted sanctions against officials and arms and minerals smugglers in Congo, Rwanda, and Uganda that are violating the U.N. arms embargo on Congo. In particular, the U.S. should press to have the owners of gold smuggling businesses on U.N. and U.S. lists sanctioned, as they continue to aid and abet violence by M23, the FDLR, and other armed groups.” Download his full statement here
Watch the hearing here