Saturday, November 22, 2008
For us, four things seem to dominate international relations on the continent, today: Zimbabwe's unity government, the escalating situation in eastern DRC, and Sudan's Darfur region.
Since the International criminal Court prosecutors sought to indict the president of Sudan, al-Bashir has been speaking out against the violence. Actually he has spoken out in the past, but nothing was really done; in other words, the fighting has never stopped. So people are not very expectant of the results of a declared ceasefire from the president. We wait and see.
More ominous is the situation in the DRC. If you've forgotten what's going on, let's recap. I won't go too far back in history but let's remember 1994 when the president of Rwanda and Burundi were flying in a plane that was shot down. They both died along with the French staff. This incited extremist Hutus to revolt and kill around 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus (the 1994 genocide). With all the groups that are working to promote reconciliation, people are still holding on to grudges, hate, hurt, and future vengeance. It seems it's difficult for us to learn that hate begets hate; violence begets violence.
Many Tutsis left the country. Many went into the DRC. Eventually Tutsis recaptured (the current president Kagame's rebels recaptured) or reclaimed Rwanda and now most of the people running the country are Tutsis. But General Nkunda, a Tutsi rebel in the DRC also wants the DRC to be rid of the extremist Hutus (FDLR). After the genocide when the Tutsis took over again, the extremist Hutus went into the DRC. So you might ask what does this General Nkunda want? After defecting from the Congolese army, he and his Congolese Tutsi “Rebels for Christ” want the government of DRC to get rid of the extremist Hutus in the country. It was reported by the Economist that the DRC colludes with these Hutus especially in the lucrative mining business in eastern DRC in North Kiva. However, Nkunda won't rest until his demands are met and he is threatening to march all the way to Kinshasa and overthrow Kabila (the current DRC president). He wants formal talks.
And, again, a large part of the problem is the refusal of Kagame (Rwanda's president) to receive and reincorporate the Congolese Hutus as a legitimate political party in the government of Rwanda. People are still holding on to past hurts. The EU will not get involved. SADC (South African Development Community) has offered to send troops and Angola has troops nearby that may be ready. SADC has said it is ready to send troops. Something must be done and I'm glad African leaders see this as important enough to intervene without any direct interests (how Africans see the world is different as you know).
Meanwhile, one of Kagame's senior advisers, Kabuye (a former guerrilla colonel) was detained in Germany when France put out a warrant for her. They are accusing her and others of being part of the plot to blow up the aircraft of the Rwandan president in 1994. Remember that the aircraft had a French crew on board as well. All of them died. The Rwandan people (at least the ones interviewed on South African TV) seem upset. The Rwandans (well, the Tutsis in power) claim France gave support to the former president's murderous unjust government and stood by and allowed the Hutu extremists to commit genocide in 1994.
Kabuye was extradited to France (on the 19th of November), and we will see what happens from there. The hurts and accusations still go round. 250,000 are displaced due to the DRC situation and over 100,000 are cut off from aid. We are hoping to avoid another regional or continental war but it doesn't look good.
The piracy off the coast of Somalia continues with their biggest catch yet—Sirius Star, an tanker with $110 million worth of oil headed for the U.S. Now, it doesn't matter the size of the boat or the purpose of the boat. All ships are susceptible to piracy. And with even one ransom paid, the capturing pirates can live well for the rest of their lives should they not be caught in the future.
For a nice article to make you feel good about children in countries like Mauritius (please go there if you have a chance) and Namibia, read below. We do have children in Africa who are safe and sound. And some have beautiful smiles.