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Monday, 5 August, 2002, 16:36 GMT 17:36 UK
Will the peace deal work between Congo and Rwanda?
The presidents of the Democratic Republic of Congo and Rwanda have signed a peace deal in South Africa.
The deal, which was brokered by South African President Thabo Mbeki and UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, was signed in Pretoria by Congo's President Joseph Kabila and his Rwandan counterpart, Paul Kagame.
Under the terms of the agreement, the Congolese have promised to disarm and arrest thousands of Hutu rebels.
In return, Rwanda will pull back tens of thousands of troops who are stationed in the eastern Congo.
Two million people have died in the four-year war between the neighbouring countries.
But this is not the first time a peace deal has been signed, intending to end the war.
Is this the end of the war? Or will it fail, like previous peace deals?
This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.
Previous peace deals didn't fail. They took DRC some steps forward - the current deal is one of the steps. I don't want to believe it's going to fail because that'll be the start of it! Let us give them a hand, at least by hopes. After all Joseph Kabila has proved to be flexible especially when the goal is peace. I'm behind him.
Mathenge Samuel, Kinshasa, RDC
The peace could work out but the only problem is that Paul Kagame is a very elusive and not honest person you can trust. The pact has a lot strings attached. First of all there has to be healing process. Everybody knows what the Hutus did but Kagame shouldn't forget the Hutus are Rwandans too, who should have access to their beloved country and not all Hutu's are bad either. There has to be some kind of healing and forgiving process - an amnesty is the best way to start.
Can Kabila disarm the Hutu rebels on his own? No. Can Kagame do it on his own without bloodshed? No. Who then can? Angola, Uganda, Zimbabwe, DR and Rwanda together. What happens to the disarmed Hutu rebels afterwards? Will they be allowed to go back to Rwanda, Burundi or stay in the republic of Congo? This is the big question. After all anybody can sign a peace deal.
We can only hope for the sake of starving children that this deal works. Anything for the famished people of Congo. We pray it works
Suppose this peace plan will work out; where will the Rwanda rebels go to? Not back home, but to the neighbouring country Burundi where the war is still going on. Only last week hundreds of people died without any attention from the international world and press! A solution between Congo and Rwanda is not working without solving the Great Lakes Problem...
This peace deal seems promising. It will be meaningful and ever-lasting, if the International Community step in as soon as possible to show their support for peace in this region. I believe people in this region are ready for peace as usual, and their respective leaders must do everything they can to make this accord be workable.
It always amazing to see heads of states signing a peace deal. But I've just got one question . Is it the first one to be signed? God knows the answer. I don't want to be pessimistic, but even if they agree to pull back from Congo it is going to be difficult for Kabila to fulfil his part of contract. Chasing Hutus rebel will raise another problem quite similar than the one there are trying to solve. Honestly I am not sure that this is the real deal for Congo. This country is not out of trouble either with Tutsis or Hutus.
Having seen the agony on the faces of young and old, left by the scars of Rwandan misery, the AU can now show its metal, in the wake of this treaty by ensuring that the two sides, will put their energy and resources towards the reconstruction of their scattered economy.
Alex Monga, Germany
The peace might hold if the UN Security Council could take time out from discussing the Israel-Palestinian conflict to discover there are many more problems in the world today, and perhaps do something about them.
The sincerity is in the hearts of the peace signers not in the signature. I hope their hearts now feel satisfied to make peace after around two million deaths.
If the two presidents are serious - and I think they are this time round - peace will prevail in DRC. But the success of the deal will depend more on the good will of Rwanda. I hope General Kagame will read the mood of the continent correctly: we want peace.
If the deal doesn't work it will be because the international community hasn't tried hard enough. The crimes of Al-Qaeda are small-fry in comparison to the sheer volume of murders and rapes committed by the Interahamwe militia and their extremist allies.
It is time for revival. We pray that both countries will honour this peace deal, stop the bloodshed, and allow people to live a peaceful life.
Faith Shababili, Angola
What they are doing is a good thing. Let us hope it works, and applaud them for making the attempt instead of trying to find fault with the treaty even before it begins to take effect.
It'll only work if both Congo-Kinshasa and Rwanda hold up their ends of the bargain. A failure to do so will cause the deal to collapse.
The signed agreement is the starting point of a long peace process which will hopefully reconcile the Rwandese and Congolese people. Rwanda is not sustainable as a country without Congo and Congo will never get peace without accommodating Rwanda - that is the political reality.
This is not really a war between Rwanda and Congo, but a war between Rwanda and Hutu extremists. One of the parties in the war (the Hutu extremists) has not signed up to anything. The war will therefore continue at a low intensity level. The positive side is that it will not be widened to include other countries further south.
The only solution to the Rwanda-Congo DR war is to cut out arms supplies to these countries.
I am glad that the peace deal has been signed and I am convinced that Presidents Kabila and Kagame are really committed to it. However, the success of this deal is as dependent to the serious contribution and active participation of the international community as it is to the commitment by the presidents. One area where the international community contribution is most required is the disarmament of the Hutu militia groups.
Unfortunately, in the Congo we have the culture of not living up to what we have signed for. To my view, the current crisis is sustained by those who do not want to lose their ministerial positions as the State has become the only employer in the country. Will it work this time or not? I don't know, but if the International Community steps up and watch carefully our baby peace accord to grow up, it will.
I think this deal will work as it has South Africa and the UN behind it. I would like to say that Rwanda has no financial capacity to remain in Congo without being helped by some countries like South Africa, US or the UK. Now, I think we can hope.
Abdul Osman, United Nations
What is important is that a peace deal such as this has been signed at all. The intention is there and even if the exact terms of the deal may be difficult and time-consuming to implement, this surely signifies a step forward. To make such a huge commitment to peace shows promise and the potential to build further relations between the two countries.
Until the culture of killing, massacre and lies mastered by RPF and its chief Kagame end, I don't see any chance of peace at all. I also take this opportunity to say sorry to our brothers in the Congo for the barbaric acts done by Kagame in their country. Kagame should be ashamed of himself for what he is doing to Africa - which is just what imperialists and neo-colonialists want him to do. Remember in Kinyarwanda we say "when you are destroying your own home your enemies will always be willing to help you".
Sedinam Akpedonu, Ghana
It is noteworthy that some belligerents, like Zimbabwe, had no representation at the signing ceremony. I am not sure if peace will stick when in some quarters Robert Mugabe is seen as the ultimate king-maker in Kinshasa. Will he want to see Thabo Mbeki and South Africa take all the credit when they didn't dirty their hands?
Kieran Wright, Hong Kong
I want to believe in my heart that both sides want peace, but it's difficult given the unrealistic timetable of the disarmament in the agreement. It's not a matter of whether or not Kabila will make good on the deal, because he can't. The question is actually how hard will he try?
We have had an inter-Congolese dialogue imposed upon us - yet our problems are not as profound as those of Rwanda. The people of Rwanda need an internal dialogue before any search and disarming of Hutus is done. If not, this deal will not work. The people of Rwanda (Hutus and Tutsis) need reconciliation and the power given to the majority as in any democracy of the world. Why can't that be imposed upon Rwanda?
I think it can work if the governments want it to work. Both sides need to concentrate on economic development and education of their children - as they are the future of the two countries.
Ettete Francis Ekong, Nigeria
If recent developments in Africa - peace deals in Sierra Leone, Eritrea/Ethiopia, Angola, and Sudan - are indicative of a changing tide in Africa, we should be optimistic about the DRCongo/Rwanda peace deal. I think the so-called African leaders and war lords have started realizing that the international community has become weary of spending money and time resolving these stupid and barbaric conflicts.
I am very optimistic that this time it will work. The whole equation of the conflict is now different from that of two years ago and commitment now is high. My only worry is Bemba's group and Uganda. Let us cross our fingers and hope.
This peace plan has opened the door for the leaders of Rwanda and DRC to continue talking face to face. We have to applaud them on this giant step. Well done Thabo Mbeki, Claire Short and the UN.
A lot of work has been done by Southern African Development Community leaders over the last five years to create the right conditions for peace in this region. The first step was to create centres of power supported by a powerful military. Second, political leaders needed to emerge that were committed to peace and who had real power. Third, negotiations have to take place between these new leaders to normalise the situation in the region. Only then can the rest of the region get on with the process of development. My fear is that the negotiations may have come a bit too soon.
As long as Rwandan greed continues to motivate the economic plundering of Congolese resources, there will never be peace. Only sanctions and sharp criticism of Clare Short's cosy relationship with Paul Kagame might just generate a better climate for peace.
I doubt if the peace deal will work. The leaders themselves have benefited a lot from the conflict, and as such I doubt they are committed to resolving it.
Rashid Sesay, Ireland/Sierra Leone
I am surprised that Rwanda and DR Congo signed a peace agreement but let out Burundi and Uganda. What will happen with Burundian rebels hiding in the DR Congo? Will DR Congo make a different deal with Burundi? I do not see this peace deal working at all.
I am an Italian citizen married to a Congolese gentleman, resident in the US. All I want to say about DR Congo, and Africa in general, is that the indifference that the West displays towards the conditions of this tormented continent is unspeakable. Saying immoral is not strong enough. This is the worst sin of our sophisticated and so-called "global" kind of "civilization". Do we truly want to beat Africa's poverty? Let's keep IMF and the World Bank out of it! Let's stop exploiting their resources! You must get a hold of the corruption that's indirectly starving your children.
Voka Mankenda, USA
It will work if both parties genuinely want it to work and honour their side of the deal. The big question is, do they really want to end a war or gain breathing space?
If they are being honest and if they do really care for their people it should work. Similar conflicts have been solved worldwide, it's a question of commitment and honesty. We all pray it works this time round.
This peace accord is a joke. Kabila is promising to do in 90 days what Kagame has failed to accomplish in six years with an experienced army. Despite his apparent good management, Kabila Jr has been creating opportunities for the Rwandese army to stay in DR Congo. Only time will tell.
The fact that the two countries have come together and signed the peace deal has to be viewed with optimism and hope. I certainly hope that if it does fail the UN won't simply abandon them as they did in 1994.
I'm afraid, Joseph Kabila has no means to honour the promise of disarming the Hutu fighters in the DR Congo. Imagine that Kagame has conquered the very part of the region where these hoodlums are reported to have taken refuge. Now how many did Kagame arrest? If Rwanda's withdrawal from the Congo is conditional upon Kabila meeting such an obligation, then peace will remain as elusive as ever.
Before airing any notes of optimism one should ask how many peace deals has Kagame signed over the past decade and how many were actually implemented. The answer to the latter is Zero.
January Yusuf Makamba, Tan
30 Jul 02 | Africa
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