Painting by Cheri Samba

Lokuta eyaka na ascenseur, kasi vérité eyei na escalier mpe ekomi. Lies come up in the elevator; the truth takes the stairs but gets here eventually. - Koffi Olomide

Ésthetique eboma vélo. Aesthetics will kill a bicycle. - Felix Wazekwa

Thursday, March 18, 2010

The future of MONUC (and debt relief)

For those who haven't noticed, these are important days in the future of the Congo.

Two important decisions are being taken by the international community: debt relief and the future of the peacekeeping mission.

First, the end of MONUC. It so happens that there was a closed door session of the Security Council today, with the head of UN peacekeeping Alain Le Roy giving a briefing on his recent trip to Kinshasa. As reported here, Le Roy was told bluntly by the Congolese that MONUC needed to leave by the end of 2011. Now it's up to the Security Council's to figure out what to do. According to diplomats who attended the briefing today, the US was the most forceful in calling for MONUC to stay, saying that it was entirely premature for the peacekeeping mission to leave, that it was needed for two tasks: Protection of civilians and security sector reform. Unfortunately, as Le Roy told them, the Congolese have told MONUC that they won't no multilateral (i.e. UN) interference in their efforts to reform, they "privilege bilateral engagement."

The French, who usually take the lead on Congo matters, were also pushing for MONUC to stay. Pity, however, that their representative fell asleep for a full 15 minutes during the briefing.

Then, at the very end, came the Chinese. We are all used to their rhetoric about non-interference in sovereign countries, but this time they outdid themselves. Stability is returning to the eastern Congo, he said, and MONUC needs to respect the government's wishes. Moreover, there will be no new beginning for the Congo as long as MONUC is there (!), and the Chinese government fully supports President Kabila's desire "to fly with his own wings." I loved this euphemism: We need to take advantage of this new opportunity in the relationship between the UN and the Congolese government. (The opportunity, of course, being the end of the peacekeeping mission.)

This is strong language. Basically, it looks like there will be a showdown between the Chinese and the Americans. I fear that, given all the other tensions between the two countries - google, currency depreciation, Dalai Lama - that the Congo will get short shrift. In April the Security Council is supposed to travel to Kinshasa, in May they have to decide on a new MONUC resolution. I don't think we can shove anything down Kabila's throat, but there are ways of finessing this. For example, we can withdraw troops from the West and drawdown several thousands (Le Roy has already proposed this), but insist on not committing on a final date for MONUC withdrawal, as Kabila wants.

Second, the debt: the country is saddled with $11 billion in debts, mostly from Mobutu's period. (Reuters put out a nice factbox today with a breakdown of figures.) If they paid all of their interest, it would consume 10% of the budget each year (they only pay around half now). In February, the Paris Club decided to forgive $1,3 billion and it's possible that the IMF & World Bank will cancel up to 90% of the remaining debt in June, when the Congo reaches completion point in the HIPC program. Hint to diplomats who constantly wring their hands about not having leverage on the Congo: you might want to think about asking for meaningful reform in return for debt cancellation.

55 comments:

James said...

The Chinese of course. They are busy looting Congo with Kabila's help. MONUC, as a witness, is obviously a hindrance to their enterprise. I have no much sympathy for MONUC. With the latest UN Experts' Report, MONUC and UN Experts showed they are as corruptible as those who came before them, when, instead of pursuing the notorious criminal enterprise run out of Kigali with the objectives to kill, maim, rape, and mass murder the Congolese people, they chose to work for Kigali's notorious DMI and Rakiya Omaar and single out individuals in the opposition who send a few dollars to their relatives and NGOs from the West who help forsaken IDPs and refugees. What Dinesh Mahtani did was shameful and a serious blow to the work done by Jason Stearns and his team the year before. In Katanga there is saying: "kama mtu ataamua kula mbwa, ni bora kuwa nyeupe (mzungu) mbwa." This means: at least the investors from the West leave technology, sometimes foster decent institutions, and at the end, some of their elected officials exert due pressure on corrupt African officials for accountability. As for the Chinese, the examples of Sudan, Zimbabwe, etc. are telling. French are done. No surprise that their representative chose a beneficial nap. They have become Kagame's puppets and must follow Kuchner's directives. And as we know, Kuchner has been a close friend of Kagame's since early 1990s. Some even say that he may have supplied more than medicines to Kagame's rebels.

Samya said...

This is way too sad none of the parties in this disscusion care about Congo's well being. Chinese they just stealing like the other western countries (Canada to name one). Monuc can we even consider them all they did bring to Congo but more problems and if they leave they'll just be leaving a many fatherless children. France like James said supports Rwanda looting in Congo, United states hs pretty much ignored Congo's states until now and that's just because they're the top country in UN. So I think the best decision has to be taken by the congolese governement and guess what it was already taken so to MONUC...Hey hey hey GOODBYE!!

james said...

Jason, last week, during a trip through DRC, I was told by a military MONUC-observer that the Congolese government has a secret agreement with China to get rid of MONUC and to replace the UN-force by Chinese military, in order to protect Chinese investments and the interests of the Congolese 'big shots'. The officer told me it is a "secret de polichinelle", but nobody dares to talk about in in public.

DM said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
James said...

Dinesh,
I got your point. Your sarcastic comments do not absorb you from the blatant unprofessionalism in your report. You should agree with me that you made a mistake and, if given another chance, correct it. How can you compare $120,000 and $150,000 transferred by Kagame's financier Tribert Rujugiro in a few months along with 30 armored vehicles, and uniforms for the entire army documented in Jason's report to US$ 35 or US$2,000 transferred in more than 3 years by the so-called FDLR financiers in your report? Come on Dinesh: $35 dollars to finance a war! Really? Look again at your lists on pages 131-135 of your report. The maximum sent by one individual over a three year-period is around $2,500. And that is what you arrogantly called "international networks" financing the FDLR war" in your hyped interview back in 2009!!! The overall total, after conversion is around US$10,000 over more than 6 years (from 2004 to 2009). Shame on you! You should have looked around you: in Kigali. The Somali Rakiya Omaar and the Rwandan Directorate of Military Intelligence were feeding you intox and you fell for it. You are not the first, mind you. Several people, including those who master the culture of lie and manipulation in the region have fallen in the trap. A lesson you should not repeat. Do you know why HRW fired Rakiya Omaar?

DM said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
James said...

I have no other intention than to make you accountable and more methodical and professional next time. I think you were carried away by your previous successes on Jason's panel. You suffered from the carpenter, the hammer and the nail syndrome. You do not need traces of money ($35 - $2000) transfer to prove relationships among Rwandans living in Europe and Rwandans in the DRC, or among congolese in Kivu and Congolese everywhere. After all, those in Kivus have also families, sons, daughters, relatives in Europe and elsewhere. Do you know that the Rwanda Government acknowledges that Rwandan expatriates transfer to Rwanda more than 200 millions dollars a year? Now, these are huge traces of war funding for you!!! Brief, I will repeat it: Rwanda and Kagame are the mass murderers of the Congolese people. That is where the UN should to focus its efforts. Hey another point: how come Rwandan rebels exploit mines and get more than $1 million / month and still need the $10,000 / 6 years? I can't believe you even accused Minister Mbusa Nyamwisi for being in contact with Rwandan rebels in the process of disarming them or the Spanish charities of having organized an inter-Rwandan dialogue conference. Dinesh, if you stick to your "badge of honor", then it will be a heavy badge on your conscience. As I told Jason, "I can't wait to see the shame in the face of those who have been supporting the mass murderer Kagame when the extent of his crimes both in his country and in our beloved DRC is exposed." No, you are a nice guy. Misguided, yes. But, nice.

DM said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
James said...

Sir Dinesh,

You see, all is well that ends well. I prefer Tembo if you do not mind. As for the rest, use your life for the good cause because "Aap bhalaa toe jag bhalaa"

Ciao.

apeaceofconflict said...

James,
I just came across your blog the other day and I have been really loving your style and insight as I have been reading through past articles. Great updates and perspective! Thanks for all your hard work!
I fear for the future of the DRC if the UN does withdraw and sincerely hope the world wakes up to the crimes being committed here soon.

K said...

James,

what is your blog adress?

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