On Tuesday January 8th, 2012, M. Herve Ladsous the United Nations peace keeping chief asked the august body to consider providing its peace force in DRC, MONUSCO, with drones to assist in collecting evidence of foreign support to M23 rebel group. This request has received varied responses at the UN itself but also elsewhere in the world and in the East African region which is more affected by the DRC conflict and all its repercussions. US, Britain and France have expressed support of the Ladsous demand, China and Russia are opposed. Within the M23 triangle, Rwanda is opposed to the usage of Drones, Uganda would support under certain conditions and guarantees, while Congo has shifted its position from opposed at first to support, at present.
A Group of Experts (GoE) report released in October, 2012, concluded that Rwanda is the brain behind the creation, training, organization and operations of M23 rebel outfit. Uganda was also, albeit to a lesser extent, blamed for citizens and officials’ support to the nefarious rebel group. The two states have naturally denied the accusations even if in the case of Rwanda, the evidence of their involvement with M23 is so overwhelming that their denials sound hollow.
It is important to note that human rights organizations such as Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International and also local community organizations have on several occasions reported human rights abuses by M23 rebels including murder, rape, and torture and property crimes. These and others would constitute war crimes in a competent court. Perpetrators and their backers would be guilty of the highest crimes as proscribed by the international justice system.
The GoE report was widely accepted as credible and several countries such as US, Britain, the Netherlands, German and Sweden have cut targeted aid to Rwanda as an expression of their disapproval of Rwanda government’s criminal behavior in the east Democratic Republic of Congo.
The foregoing, coupled with several earlier reports such as the October, 2010 Panel of Experts (PoE) again finding Rwanda governments’ involvement in fermenting conflict and unrest in DRC, is more than enough evidence of Rwanda’s culpability. Usage of drones would not uncover anything that is not already known, and therefore a red herring.
The UN and its Security Council already have in their possession sufficient actionable evidence to rebuke, sanction and punish culprits responsible directly or indirectly of east DRC mayhem. What rather lacks is, the political will on behalf of those responsible for covering up, over many years, the bloody and criminal path of Rwanda Patriotic Front (RPF), its army the Rwanda Defense Forces (RDF) and most importantly, the person of President Paul Kagame of Rwanda presiding over a kleptocratic murderous dictatorship responsible for hundreds of thousands of deaths resulting directly or indirectly from the status of ‘non-accountability’ bestowed upon him by Washington and London.
Rather than Drones showing us what we have already seen, the US and Britain, as the main supporters of President Kagame and his regime, need to change their policy on Rwanda. Collecting more evidence without the political will to act on it, is wastage of valuable time and resources meanwhile innocent civilians, men, women and children are being murdered at will. To end foreign meddling in the affairs of DRC, it is not more evidence which is needed but more political will and courage to act on the already existing one.
Commissioner for External Relations
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