Friday, November 19, 1999 Published at 23:43 GMT
How would you end the war in Congo?
As the Democratic Republic of Congo once again is facing all-out war, how do you think the situation can be stabilised and who do you think should step in?
A selection of your emails will be broadcast on Focus on Africa during the 1705 edition on Saturday.
It's not unusual that when one is propelled by greed they ignore the slightest possibility of bad outcomes. Kagame and Museveni are such characters who judged events from one side of the coin, economic benefits and personal gratification, you know these are power hungry characters and yearn to dominate others yet so selfish. Let's open our eyes here, let's be candid, it's a well known fact that Museveni started this chaos and he is very interested in perpetuating it at whatever cost.
I think the war will end if rebel financiers were cut off, if Museveni were to go now those rebels would weaken and be willing to explore other channel of putting their points across.
I think that us, Africans, should solve our own problems, instead of waiting for some sort of intervention from the west. Ugandans and Rwandans rebels should pull out of our beautiful country, and leave president Kabila to do the good work he has intended to do since the day he took power. Everybody, including westerns, want a piece of the Democratic Republic of Congo. It's time we opened our eyes and see who our friends and our enemies are.
This is not a civil war as far as none of the 450 Congolese tribes are fighting against each other and as the rebels recognise they have gained no support from the population in the occupied territories. This is a war of past age of humanity with feudal backgrounds of Tutsis (15%) seeking for their past of predominance over their historical servants Hutus (80%).
The political leaders and parties have to agree to elections (presidential and legislative) prepares and supervises by OAU, UNO, and EU. Independent investigation of human rights abuses since the independence. General amnesty, and indemnisation for victims.
The war in DRC depends on the evolution of war in Angola. Were it not the involvement of former Zaire under Mobutu in the Angolan civil by aiding Savimbi, today Kabila would have been forced to sit down and accept all democratic prinples. The involvement of the autocratic Museveni and his friend Kagame of Rwanda to install a puppet government in Kinshasa which was going to be sympathetic to Savimbi, left Angola with no option but move in and try to prevent another Mobutu like source of Savimbi support. If Savimbi loses in Angola and fails the desperate alliance he wants with Uganda and Rwanda, Kagame and Museveni cost on the ground will force them to admit a power sharing deal whose government poses no threat to neighbouring countries. Neither Kabila nor the Uganda supported forces are democrats but both can be forced to realise that War is costly.
First, it was Clinton who called Uganda and Rwanda Presidents visionaries
when he did his historic visit to Africa. It is Uganda and Rwanda that have the vision of resolving conflict by means of war or by invading thy neighbour. In one word, United States foreign
policy legitimises Uganda and Rwanda military adventures. Therefore, security threats
could be dealt with or resolved among us Africans.
I believe that the borders of Africa have to change to ensure peace in any African country.
These lines were drawn by the Colonial "masters" of the past who didn't think of the traditional ethnic borders when dividing the riches of this great continent up amongst themselves.
The only way out from the war in DR Congo is democracy, free market economy, the elimination of genocide and respect of human rights. As one of major causes of DR Congo's war appears to be the way President Kabila is ruling the country, (i.e. by his own decrees, without Parliament, nor rule of law, as there is no independent Judiciary), the only way out is for Kabila to open up and allow democratic principles to prevail. This is by giving power back to the people to decide because, as Congo belongs to the Congolese people, the latter's right to self determination should be upheld.
The only solution is for them to convene a sovereign national conference as being advocated in Nigeria. All the ethnic nationalities involved in this struggle have their loyalty to their people. They all came together, because the Europeans wanted them to at the 1854 Berlin conference. The solution is not Kabila or any other leader, but total autonomy for individual ethnic nationalities within the sovereign Democratic Republic of Congo. A situation similar to that of United States of America. In U.S., every state is autonomous. Autonomy does not mean different countries. This Africans must understand. Prior to the Europeans, we existed together while maintaining our own individualities. This what is needed all over Africa.
The solution to the "aggression" (although surprisingly and unfortunately the BBC has not reported it in such term), is summed by Collette Braeckman, the most independent Western journalist, a senior reporter with the Belgian daily, Le Soir, and an expert in central African issues (she has written many books on the Rwandan genocide, the Mobutu reign and Kabila's take over) in the conclusion of her latest book "L'enjeu Congolais" (The stakes in this aggression) where she says that there will never be peace and prosperity in the Congo as long as the people of Congo are not masters of their own destiny". And that is true. Let the people of Congo organise themselves without interference from Europe and America. Long live Congo's co-operation with the rest of the world that benefit the people of Congo and not leave them destitute notwithstanding the wealth that is in their country. We no longer want others Mobutu and Mobutuists to lead the Congo. They are synonymies of western encroachment, the stooges of global capitalism that sucks all the blood from the poor.
African leaders should realise that we have ethnic groups and affiliations like the rest of the world. Our modern states have been carved out arbitrarily and these have brought about a lot of suffering manipulated by others. I think it is time to sit down and talk about this situation. If every community is given its democratic rights as a people we will not have any problems. Today Africa has a burning dilemma of nations and nationalities
My country is paying for its own flaws in terms of nation building and civil society.
I would suggest fewer inquiries on who are Congolese and more work on exploiting and nurturing the human resources of those who choose Congo as their fatherland.
Politically the only way to end the conflict should be, at least for 10 years a U.N mandate Kosovo-like because I think that the common citizen in Congo would appreciate a lot having a secure country in which doing business could be safe
I wish we never had wars. In world of conflicting interests war is unfortunately almost inevitable. The DCR war is no simple matter and the issues are not unique to the Congo. This war has its origins in a number key historical events such as colonial rule by European powers and Mobutu's long dictatorship that left the country in administrative, economic and political chaos.
This war should not occur. The rebels and their godfathers planned a quick coup d'etat by taking the capital city Kinshasa. They failed and extended the war field. It is now clear that no one wants to implement any agreement of peace.
You constantly hear about black people complaining
of the racism they suffer over here. Although some of it
is undoubtedly true it is as nothing compared to the racism
that different African ethnic groups inflict on each other. The majority
of conflicts in Africa are blatant racist wars fought purely on the grounds
of race hate.
We all know that the architect of this war is the international community mostly UK and US. These are the countries which supported South Africa under apartheid; the 25 years long war in Angola was financed by those countries, still they call themselves the master of human right.
My solution to the invasion of the Congo is to support President Kabila in an invasion and occupation of both Uganda and Rwanda. The dictators of these two countries only respect military force. We should therefore give it to them. They in turn will encourage their economic partners, fighting in the Congo, to have real negotiation for peace in the Congo.
This is an indirect war by the United States against Kabila to have control over Congo's resources. Uganda and Rwanda are the so-called democratic countries & US allies are being used by the west to destabilise the great lake region. They are supported by the British and the Americans to overthrow Kabila or to make him back down to the interest of the west.
To resolve the war in the Democratic Republic of the Congo the following should occur:
Rwanda and Uganda need to get out of my country...Museveni is acting just like Mobutu did for 35 years because he had the support of the west. One thing he does not realise is that the west will stop helping him like it did with Mobutu, that day will be the end of him...We, Congolese will solve our problems...please just leave us alone.
This problem can only be solved if outside forces intervene to offer guidance. The only time Congo was stable was during colonial rule. This goes to other countries in Africa too. Our only chance to take our seat at the world economic table is if co-operate more with our former rulers. We have no way out and it is the truth. There is no chance for unification in the continent unless outside forces take the drivers seat in government.
What is clear is that no one country can survive from a sustaining campaign of destabilisation by means of war, even by simple social troubles. Everybody knows how the superpowers care about terrorism. So is the DR Congo, this country cannot survive from an endless and then barbarous war.
We simply require the international community to acknowledge and encourage the great work done by the only true leader in that conflict, Robert Mugabe who has been able to stop the rebels from forcefully removing the Congo government.
I would stop the war in the DRC in the following way. I would convince the UN to send in a peacekeeping force. I would convince the foreign governments to withdraw from the DRC and I would set up a UN led government until elections can be held.
The United Nations needs to butt out and let these countries determine their own destinies whether it be through peaceful means or civil war. The United Nations is a failed endeavour as it creates more problems than it solves. Bosnia and Kosovo are just two of the many examples of UN mistakes.
This DRC problem can not stop soon while this world believes that what is good is is always supported by the so-called USA. Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi must withdraw their troops from DRC first then Angola, Namibia and Zimbabwe will later withdraw too.
Nkruma once wrote "The new African nations from the very
nature of things cannot but be economically weak at the early
stages of their nationhood as compared with the older and long
established nations of the world...................., they need economic
help, but in seeking outside aid they lay themselves open to a grave
new danger which not merely threatens but could even destroy their
Mr Blunder Kabila has done so many damages to Zaire that are too many to count. Kabila must go. The only way he can go is by the people who put him in the office, the Tutsi.
It is a pity that the DRC should be today's sickman of Africa. But the problem seems to lie more with the people of that country than with any foreign power.
However, foreign intervention in the DRC for personal glory and ill-gotten wealth cannot be tolerated. The international community has looked the other way for too long.
Let an international force move into the DRC, drive out the Rwandans, Ugandans, Angolans and Zimbabweans and invite the Congolese to sit down as people of one fatherland to iron out their differences.
What we must realise is that Mr. Kabila is a dictator. An elected president must be sworn into office, and a complete restructuring of the nation must commence; All languages (or at least the ones that are most spoken) must be recognised as official. The boundaries of the national sub-divisions must be re-drawn to provide representation and the basis for a parliamentary democracy, federal democracy, or a federal republic. Then an effective constitution modelled after, for example, their former governing nation of Belgium, and if fate permitted, peace would come, and the DRC would become one of Africa's most liberal democracies.
The DRC civil war is only one piece of the internecine puzzle of the Great Lake region and any solution that is not all encompassing is not likely to stand the test of time. Congo will only have lasting peace when the security concerns of her neighbours are fully addressed, as no guerrilla group could have a prayer of marching on Kinshasa without outside help.
The war in the Congo, like many wars in Africa, has been caused by the carving up of national boundaries irrespective of distribution of ethnic communities. Many African states
consist of two or three ethnic communities that are bitter enemies. Only a radical re-drawing of national borders in Africa will put a stop to all of the fighting and bloodshed on that continent.
It has to be said that the time Africa was most peaceful, civilised and prosperous was when they had the guidance of the more civilised nations of western Europe.
I know it has an awful lot of stigma attached, but I feel one has to ask was colonialism really such a terrible thing?
There is only one sure way of ending conflicts in Africa as a whole; The end of pouring weapons to the continent from the western world. The west must also stop supporting dictators, stop their double standard, and cease giving Africa bad press. They should then aid the continent the same way the United States aided Europe after the end of the second world war.
I fancy that peace in DRC is feasible, even at this late date. My solution is to apportion DRC, so that the insurgents are confined to the North and East, and the Government retains the South and West.
The Africans should sort this out for themselves. The UN could provide guidance and mediation where appropriate. Hard intervention should be avoided. African nations fought long and hard for freedom, now they must learn how to manage it. I'm sure the counsel of Annan, Tutu, and Mandela, would be beneficial. African leaders should solve African problems.
The solution to the Congo crisis is easy if all parties who contributed to the current mess can come together and work out a solution. The route cause of all the troubles are the former Belgian masters who looted the region, divided the population, sowed seeds of hatred especially in Rwanda and Burundi. They must pay reparations for all the suffering they unleashed upon the people.
I wonder whether any militarily imposed solution would leave the people of the Congo better or worse off than they are now. For most, life during the current civil war is probably not any worse than it was under the Mobutu kleptocracy, and I see no evidence that a Kabila dictatorship would be any better.
I am from Zambia the country that is trying to broker peace in the DRC. As others, am deeply concerned that the hard-earned resources are being used to prop-up wars instead of development-a very sad scenario for African countries. My view is that what we are seeing in the DRC is not only an act of greed on the part of Kabila & pals, but also a means of diverting the country's resources into their own pockets just like Mobutu.
If these two factors were not the case, Kabila and co would have initiated genuine dialogue between him and his opponents. Only direct engagement in dialogue between warring parties will bring meaningful and sustainable peace in the DRC and other conflict-prone countries in the world. Peace initiated by outsiders without serious and direct talks between the warring parties will never be the solution. It is high time Kabila and his opponents realise this so that the country, bestowed with a wealth of natural resources, can move forward. If they do not come to the table and start talking, then my assumptions that they are greedy and are creating war to steal the country's resources, would be correct.
When discussing Africa, it is important not to forget about the colonial legacy left by Europeans and the economic, ethnic, and political divisions created by the arbitrary creation of national boundaries. Problems in the former Zaire are serious indeed, but we should be careful not to resort to any international action that may be construed as colonial. Africans must learn to face these difficult problems with African solutions. The important part the West must play should be limited to neutral financial and technical assistance and not peacekeeping or politics.
Rwanda and Uganda are very poor countries. So they don't have financial capability to wage this war. If the USA and EU cut all funds to Uganda and Rwanda ,the war will end.
The problem with African politics is that it is based on ethnic grounds. Unless Africans learn to accept people from other tribes we will never have a peaceful continent. The problem with Kabila was that after the historical rebellion he thought that he was a natural and God sanctioned leader. He should have organised elections as soon as possible and befriended the opposition. Unless negotiations are conducted with a spirit of brotherhood and reconciliation Congo will turn into another Somalia. Shame on the so-called professors in this country. A government of national Unity with representation from the main rebels seems to me to be the only solution.
The DRC is suffering from a lack of leadership. President Kabila, when he was given the Presidency, had a wonderful opportunity. The country had no real opposition to him. Almost every country around the world wanted him to succeed and would have given any reasonable assistance if asked. Instead he instituted a leadership style like a bad actor trying to be
Mobuto himself. I feel deeply for the people of the DRC. I wish them a leader that also wishes the best for them, not for himself. From where the country is now, the only way forward is to negotiate with all parties and to try and for a government that is inclusive of all the factions. Additionally, it is necessary for the country to institute a fair and incorruptible legal system as soon as possible to ensure that the marvellous wealth of the DRC benefits the people of the country and not just a small elite. Additionally, the country must ensure that all its natural resources are exploited in the most beneficial manner and all contracts which can be proven to
be allocated on anything other than open tender be annulled
Uganda and Rwanda must be forced by the International Community to leave the country they invaded against all the applicable international laws. The simple truth is that they are using the Congolese rebels as puppets to steal Congolese land. The last time this happened we had the so called Operation Desert Storm. If countries were allowed to invade their neighbours under all kind of false pretences, where would that lead us? Sure Kabila is not a democrat, what about Museveni, Kagame? The last time I checked there was no majority rule in Rwanda, no multi-partism in Uganda. And these are the same people who want to teach Kabila how to be a democrat? Does anyone believe Kagame and Museveni are planning to have majority rule any time soon in their own countries?
All foreign countries involved in the DRC should withdraw, and a large UN Peace Keeping force (none of the forces should come from countries currently involved in the war) should enter the country and remain there until such a time as is necessary. A referendum should be held in the DRC (if possible) to determine the future of the country, e.g., should it remain so large, or should it be split?
Perhaps the only solution, sadly, is for the Congo to be split into various nations along provincial/ethnic lines. It seems the only forces that have held the Congo together were the brutal colonialism of Belgium and Mobutu's equally brutal dictatorship.
The last time there was a devastating war in Europe, Britain, the US, USSR and the Dominions allied to end it. One way to end this apparently endless war in Africa is for an African led force,
backed by British arms and expertise, to go in and separate
the combatants, for a generation if necessary. It took fifty years of occupation to sort out Germany, and it will probably take
the same to sort out the Congo.
Unless you invade the country you won't be able to stop the civil war.
The recent threat of the escalation of the civil war does cause great concern to me, an African American-Caribbean. There must be some way to de-escalate these threats, and to solve the various conflicts through negotiations. Only when all else fails then help should be sought from others. Without this problem solved, we will always be faced with wars that are so brutal, so sick, and so devastating, that it scares the human race.
I am not from the Democratic Republic of Congo, but I have been following the developments in that country from the onset of President Kabila.
I think the problem with that country, as with many other African countries, is and has been leadership. President Kabila should understand that 'where two elephants fight, the grasses suffer.' You do not use violence to check violence. The sooner he (Kabila) sits with all the factions in an open-minded dialogue, the better it is for that country.