What Is Not Said Is What Divides : Critical Issues for a Peace Process to End the Deadly Congo War
Sasha Lezhnev and John Prendergast December 2012 Part Two in a Three-Part-Series on Congo’s Peace Process
Editor’s note: This paper is the second in a three-part-series on the process, leverage, and substance necessary to create a path towards a viable peace in eastern Congo and the surrounding region.
The situation in eastern Congo continues to deteriorate, threatening to spiral out of control into an all-out war involving several neighboring countries. Throughout the latest explosion and previous cycles of conflict, the root causes of war are not being and have not been addressed, leaving “peace processes” to focus on flimsy power-sharing arrangements that have undermined the sovereignty of the Congolese state and the professionalism of its armed forces.
Against this bleak backdrop, the momentum for a broader peace initiative should be building. Sadly, however, it is not. Global leaders from U. S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to U. N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon have met with Congolese President Joseph Kabila and Rwandan President Paul Kagame in recent months urging constructive negotiations. Talks chaired by Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni now involve direct dialogue between the Congolese government and the M23 rebels, but the process has not been productive. To date, regionally mediated talks have only focused on short-term security issues such as border verification and the composition of a “neutral force” to eliminate rebel groups.
With a very tense restart, the latest round of talks in Kampala will likely only focus on restoring the provisions of the March 23, 2009 agreements, instead of the wider underlying issues. The bottom line is that no vision has been advanced or even conceived for a lasting solution that would keep neighboring countries from invading again and address core concerns of the broader population of eastern Congo. In short, as politics have become completely militarized, peace initiatives have become yet another forum for regional combatants with the biggest guns to secure short-term interests and manipulate international sentiment.