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The Congolese people were determined to rid themselves of Joseph Kabila’s regime on Dec. 30, 2018, the date of the presidential, legislative and provincial elections in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). For two years, the people had made tremendous sacrifices in life and freedom in a deadly battle against President Kabila, who was bent on remaining in power by any means necessary.
Genocost, a U.K.-based Congolese advocacy group, commemorated Congo Genocide this week on Aug. 2. Aug. 2 is the day that U.S. allies Rwanda and Uganda invaded the Democratic Republic of the Congo, starting the Second Congo War in 1998. Though a peace treaty was signed in 2003, the violence, displacement and mass killing continue. Genocost asks that nations formally recognize Aug. 2 as Congo Genocide Commemoration Day. I spoke to Genocost spokesperson Sylvester Mido.
Now, as the San Francisco Bay View newspaper’s 40th birthday year comes to a close, is the time to bring up to date the historical sketch of our paper that I began with Part 1 in the January paper. Piles of old papers rest on my desk, waiting to be read once again – a banquet of stories and pictures of our lives, our hopes, our goals. Let me let you taste the flavor of the freedom we continue to fight for in the age of Trump.
The path forward for many Congolese youth is clear. They want to be free from tyranny more than the Kabila regime wants to repress them and deprive them of their God-given life pursuits. In the Congo, the youth are prepared for a sustained civil disobedience undertaking to cripple and ultimately remove an oppressive system that not only kills them but also squelches their aspirations and hopes for a dignified life.
On Sept. 19, 2016, widespread protests took place across the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The Congolese population sent a clear message to President Joseph Kabila that he had only 90 days left to vacate the presidency because his last of two presidential terms expires on Dec. 19, 2016. President Joseph Kabila has made it clear to the Congolese people that he is bent on holding onto power by any means necessary even if it means gunning down dozens of unarmed protesters in the streets of Kinshasa.
As Joseph Kabila enters the final year of his presidency, the pressure will increase on him to respect the Constitution and step down in December 2016. Congolese are united in the defense of the Constitution and the protection of the nascent democratic advances that have occurred during the post-war period of the country. If elections are in fact held in 2016, it will be due to the vigilance and pressure coming from the sons and daughters of the Congo.
Earlier this week, the ENOUGH Project to, quote, “end genocide and crimes against humanity,” posted an appeal to consumers titled, “What if Black Friday were conflict-free?” ENOUGH is an NGO operating under the umbrella of the Center for American Progress, a neoliberal Washington D.C.-based Democratic Party think tank. They did not include an appeal to the nation’s weapons manufacturers who require minerals on the U.S. Strategic Minerals list.
The dominant challenge facing Congolese people is the lengths to which President Joseph Kabila will go to maintain a stranglehold on power. This unresolved question represents the greatest threat to peace and stability in the Democratic Republic of Congo. It will continue to dominate the political landscape through 2016, when Kabila is Constitutionally mandated to leave office.
As a coalition of Africa-focused human rights and peace organizations representing a broad range of individuals, we write to express our dismay at your decision to welcome President of Rwanda Paul Kagame to your universities. We regret to inform you that your invitation of Paul Kagame to your institution co-signs his repressive practices inside Rwanda and his aggressive interventions in neighboring Democratic Republic of the Congo.
The 17-year quest for peace in the Democratic Republic of Congo has taken a significant step in the right direction; however, many concerns remain. Last week the Congolese military routed the Rwanda- and Uganda-backed M23 and declared an end to its reign of terror against the Congolese people.
Earlier this year, President Obama asked how one might weigh the “tens of thousands who’ve been killed in Syria versus the tens of thousands who are currently being killed in the Congo.” But as tragic and devastating as the Congo conflict is, Congolese are not asking for the United States – or the international community – to militarily intervene.
“We are not alone. Africa, Asia, and free and liberated people from every corner of the world will always be found at the side of the Congolese.” So Chokwe Lumumba, having that name, should carry the spirit. He should know, as he becomes the new mayor of Jackson, Missisippi, that he will never be alone, that there will always be people around him to make sure that he succeeds in what he is doing.
On Wednesday, July 17, Nick Long reported for the Voice of America that the Congolese army’s recent successes at driving the M23 militia from their positions in eastern Congo have caused euphoria amongst Congolese, particularly in Goma, the capital city of North Kivu Province on Congo’s border with Rwanda. Here’s that Voice of America radio report:
In Tanzania, President Obama said, “The countries surrounding the Congo, they’ve got to make a commitment to stop funding armed groups that are encroaching on the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Congo.” As the U.S. calls on its allies to cease funding armed groups in the Congo, the U.S. should cease funding of Rwanda and Uganda.
Friends of the Congo’s Executive Director Maurice Carney told KPFA that the U.N. Combat Intervention Brigade is really just the U.S., U.K., and other Western powers’ excuse for continuing to support African dictators – Rwanda’s Paul Kagame, Uganda’s Yoweri Museveni and Congo’s Joseph Kabila. All three, he says, collaborate with foreign interests to drain Congo of its vast resource wealth.
Congolese people are seeking peace and justice. Trying Bosco Ntaganda at the ICC may lead to some measure of justice for the crimes perpetrated at his behest; however, it appears that his backers in Rwanda may very well be let off the hook yet again and allowed to continue their military aggression against the DRC.
On Monday, Feb. 11, outgoing Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Johnnie Carson presented an outline of the Obama administration’s policy position on the situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The purpose of Ambassador Carson’s presentation was twofold: discussing why efforts should be redoubled to bring stability to the Congo and laying out a framework for “moving forward.”
The Obama administration was on the defensive about the U.S. relationship with Rwanda and its U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice at the Dec. 11, 2012, U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing on the conflict in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. Two days after the hearing, Rice withdrew her name from consideration to become secretary of state. In President Obama’s statement on Susan Rice, issued the same day, he praised her work but did not mention Rwanda, Uganda or Congo.
Cholera has broken out in the internally displaced persons camps growing again in eastern Congo, as Congolese people flee the war which, with backing from the Kagame regime in Kigali, Rwanda, resumed in April. The cholera outbreak has sparked fears of an epidemic. Now drenching rain is adding to the refugees’ misery. U.S. Special Forces are in the region, but not to hunt for Joseph Kony. It’s a military operation to secure oil and other African resources and limit Chinese access.
The State Department announced today that the U.S. “has cut this year’s planned military assistance to Rwanda amid concerns that the government in Kigali is supporting rebel movements in neighboring Congo,” according to the Washington Post. A three-year campaign by advocates for peace in the Congo and an end to the plundering of its mineral riches culminates successfully in today’s announcement. They have been pressing for implementation of the only law sponsored by then Sen. Obama allowing denial of aid to Congo's neighbors that destabilize the Congo.