The Largest Security-Cleared Career Network for Defense and Intelligence Jobs - JOIN NOW

Military

DATE=7/9/99 TYPE=BACKGROUND REPORT NUMBER=5-43842 TITLE=CONGO TALKS / REACT BYLINE=WILLIAM EAGLE DATELINE=WASHINGTON CONTENT= NOT VOICED: INTRO: ZAMBIAN PRESIDENT FREDERICK CHILUBA ANNOUNCED FRIDAY THAT A DRAFT PEACE ACCORD FOR CONGO-KINSHASA WILL BE SIGNED IN SATURDAY IN LUSAKA. HOSTILITIES BETWEEN REBELS AND GOVERNMENT ARE TO CEASE WITHIN 24 HOURS OF THE SIGNING. THE 11-MONTH-OLD CONFLICT HAS INVOLVED SEVERAL OF CONGO-KINSHASA'S NEIGHBORS. EACH HAS ITS OWN MOTIVES FOR FIGHTING EITHER FOR OR AGAINST CONGOLESE PRESIDENT LAURENT KABILA. FROM WASHINGTON, WILLIAM EAGLE SPOKE TO ONE CENTRAL AFRICA SPECIALIST WHO SAYS MANY LEADERS SCHEDULED TO ATTEND THE SIGNING CEREMONY MAY BE QUESTIONING THE WISDOM OF GETTING INVOLVED IN THE FIRST PLACE. TEXT: KEEPING CONGO-KINSHASA'S PRESIDENT LAURENT KABILA IN POWER HAS COST LIVES -- AND BLED ECONOMIES. UP TO SIX OF CONGO-KINSHASA'S NEIGHBORS ARE PROVIDING TROOPS OR LOGISTICAL SUPPORT, INCLUDING KABILA SUPPORTERS ZIMBABWE, ANGOLA, AND NAMIBIA. RWANDA AND UGANDA, TWO OTHER NEIGHBORS, HAVE SUPPORTED THE REBELS OPPOSING KABILA. ALL THE COUNTRIES INVOLVED IN THE EFFORT TO SUPPORT OR OPPOSE MR. KABILA BASED THEIR DECISION, IN PART, ON THEIR SECURITY AND BUSINESS INTERESTS.BUT IT'S NOT CLEAR HOW BENEFICIAL TO THEM THEIR INVOLVEMENT HAS BEEN. IN THE CASE OF UGANDA, ONE ANALYST SAYS, PRESIDENT YOWERI MUSEVENI'S EFFORT TO CRUSH THE CONGO-BASED REBELS MAY HAVE ACTUALLY ERODED HIS AUTHORITY IN UGANDA. PROFESSOR FILIP REYNTJENS (PRON. RENT'JENS) IS A PROFESSOR OF LAW AND POLITICS AT THE UNIVERSITY OF ANTWERP IN BELGIUM. // REYNTJENS ACT // [THE UGANDAN PRESS, WHICH HAS BEEN FOLLOWING THE CONGO WAR], HAS PUBLICIZED A NUMBER OF [QUESTIONABLE] PRACTICES [OF PUBLIC FIGURES CLOSE TO] MUSEVENI, LIKE HIS BROTHER AND A NUMBER OF MILITARY OFFICERS. [THEY'VE] BEEN INVOLVED IN ALL SORTS OF DEALS IN CONGO-KINSHASA [INCLUDING THE TRADE OF] TIMBER, GOLD AND DIAMONDS. SO [THE WAR] HAS MADE THE REGIME MORE VULNERABLE TO CRITICISMS OF CORRUPTION AND MAFIA-LIKE BUSINESS DEALS. IT MEANS A DECREASE IN THE LEGITIMACY OF MUSEVENI. I THINK THE PRESIDENT UNDERSTANDS THE BEST THING FOR UGANDA IS TO GET OUT OF THIS MESS WITHOUT LOSING FACE. // END ACT // ANGOLA, UNLIKE UGANDA, HAS ALREADY WITHDRAWN MANY OF ITS TROOPS -- AFTER IT BECAME CLEAR THEIR PRESENCE WAS NOT KEEPING ANGOLA'S OWN CIVIL WAR FROM FLARING. ANGOLA'S UNITA FORCES -- WHO WANT TO TOPPLE ANGOLA'S PRESIDENT, JOSE EDUARDO DOS SANTOS -- ARE SUSPECTED OF COOPERATING WITH RWANDA, UGANDA, AND THE ANTI-KABILA REBELS. UNITA'S SUPPLY LINES RUN THROUGH THE CONGO, AND PRESIDENT DOS SANTOS, BY COOPERATING WITH KABILA GOVERNMENT, HOPED TO BE ABLE TO CUT OFF THE REBELS' SUPPLY LINES. ZIMBABWE, ANOTHER KABILA SUPPORTER, HAS ALSO HAD QUESTIONABLE GAINS FROM THE INTERVENTION. PRESIDENT ROBERT MUGABE OF ZIMBABWE IS PERHAPS MR. KABILA'S MOST VOCAL SUPPORTER IN SOUTHERN AFRICA. HE SENT TROOPS TO CONGO-KINSHASA AS A MEMBER OF THE 14-NATION SOUTHERN AFRICAN DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY. THE GROUP'S CONSTITUTION SAYS AN ATTACK BY AN OUTSIDE AGGRESSOR AGAINST ONE MEMBER IS AN ATTACK AGAINST ALL. MR. MUGABE IDENTIFIES RWANDA AND UGANDA AS THE HOSTILE OUTSIDERS BEHIND THE ANTI-KABILA REBELS. ZIMBABWE'S AIR FORCE HAS HAD LIMITED SUCCESS IN CRUSHING THE ANTI-KABILA REBELS. PUBLIC SUPPORT FOR PRESIDENT MUGABE HAS DROPPED WITH THE INCREASED NUMBER OF BODYBAGS [DEATHS] COMING HOME. FILIP REYNTJENS SAYS THE WAR HAS ALSO TAKEN AN ECONOMIC TOLL. // REYNTJENS ACT // THE DEBT WHICH KABILA'S CONGO HAD TOWARD ZIMBABWE RANGED FROM A LOW OF 40 MILLION DOLLARS TO A HIGH OF 200 MILLION DOLLARS. ZIMBABWE'S INTERVENTION HAS BEEN COSTING ONE MILLION DOLLARS A DAY SO EVEN IF YOU TAKE THE HIGH ESTIMATE, 200 MILLION DOLLARS, THEY'VE NOW SPENT NEARLY DOUBLE THAT. IF THEY DO A COST-BENEFIT ANALYSIS NOW THEY WILL REALIZE THIS HAS BEEN MORE COSTLY THAN WHAT THEY HOPED TO PRESERVE IN THE CONGO. // OPT // FOR MUGABE, [THE SITUATION IS LIKE THAT FACING PRESIDENT SLOBODAN] MILOSEVIC IN SERBIA. I THINK MUGABE - WHO WAS NOT PARTICULARLY POPULAR BEFORE HE COMMITTED ZIMBABWE TO WAR IN THE CONGO IS EVEN MORE UNPOPULAR TODAY. AND THAT UNDOUBTEDLY WEAKENS HIS POSITION. //END OPT // // END ACT // // OPT // WITH THE DRAFT ACCORD, PROFESSOR REYNTJENS SAYS MR. MUGABE HAS FOR NOW ACHIEVED ONE GOAL -- KEEPING MR. KABILA IN POWER IN CONGO-KINSHASA. BUT IT COULD BE A HOLLOW VICTORY: A FINAL SETTLEMENT WITHIN THE CONGO WILL LIKELY INCLUDE THE DEMAND FOR A NATIONAL DIALOGUE -- OR CONFERENCE -- THAT WOULD LEAD TO ELECTIONS. THE TRANSITION TO THE POLLS WOULD BE SHAPED BY COMPROMISES AMONG PRESIDENT KABILA, THE NON-ARMED OPPOSITION, AND THE REBELS. PROFESSOR REYNTENS SAYS IT REMAINS TO BE SEEN IF FREE AND FAIR ELECTIONS WOULD KEEP PRESIDENT KABILA IN POWER. // END OPT // BUT INVOLVEMENT IN CONGO-KINSHASA'S CIVIL WAR HAS NOT BEEN A LOSING PROPOSITION FOR EVERYONE. IN THE SHORT TERM, RWANDA, WHICH SUPPORTED THE ANTI-KABILA REBELS, MAY HAVE TEMPORARILY SUCCEEDED IN STOPPING ITS OWN REBEL THREAT. THE GOVERNMENT OF PAUL KAGAME -- AN ETHNIC TUTSI -- HAS BEEN TRYING TO CURB CROSS-BORDER RAIDS FROM REBELS BASED IN CONGO SINCE THE END OF RWANDA'S CIVIL WAR IN 1994. THE REBELS ARE PREDOMINANTLY HUTU REMNANTS OF THE FORMER ARMED FORCES OF RWANDA (OR F-A-R) AND OF AN ANTI-TUTSI MILITIA, THE INTERAHAMWE. PROFESSOR REYNTJENS SAYS THE WAR -- AND THE FORCED RESETTLEMENT OF HUTU REFUGEES WITHIN RWANDA -- HAS DAMPENED SOMEWHAT THE ARMED REBELLION AGAINST THE KAGAME GOVERNMENT. SOME SAY THE CONGO PEACE ACCORDS MAY AS WELL. THE RECENT AGREEMENT CALLS FOR THE DISARMAMENT -- AND REPATRIATION - OF THE HUTU REBELS. BUT PROFESSOR REYNTJENS DOES NOT BELIEVE THE ACCORDS ALONE WILL BRING PEACE TO RWANDA. HE SAYS THE RWANDAN GOVERNMENT WILL PROBABLY HAVE TO REACH A POLITICAL AGREEMENT WITH ITS ENEMIES. // (OPT) REYNTJENS ACT // THE VERY GENERAL AGREEMENT ON WHAT SHOULD BE DONE AS FAR AS THE RWANDAN FORMER GOVERNMENT ARMY AND THE INTERAHAMWE MILITIA ARE CONCERNED IS GOING TO BE EXTREMELY HARD TO IMPLEMENT. A NUMBER OF THOSE TROOPS ARE STILL OPERATING NEAR RWANDA. EVEN GETTING THOSE WHO ARE MORE OR LESS CONTROLLABLE, LIKE THE FORMER F-A-R - WHO ARE BASICALLY PART OF THE CONGOLESE ARMY -- WILL BE HARD TO DISARM AGAINST THEIR WILL. I WANT TO SEE INTERNATIONAL PEACE KEEPING FORCES WILLING TO TAKE ON TENS OF THOUSANDS OF FORMER F-A-R AND INTERAHAMWE WHO DO NOT WISH TO BE DISARMED. THIS WILL BE COSTLY IN TERMS OF MONEY AND LOSSES: THE [REBELS] WILL [SIMPLY] DISAPPEAR INTO THE [FOREST]. // OPT // [ALSO] WE'VE SEEN [A SIMILAR SITUATION] IN ANGOLA: [THE UNITA REBELS] DID AGREE TO BE DISARMED. THEY PRETENDED TO TURN IN THEIR WEAPONS; AND SOME OF THEIR TROOPS RETURNED TO CONFINEMENT CAMPS. BUT MOST DID NOT; MANY [REBELS IN EASTERN CONGO] ARE NOT GOING TO DO THAT EITHER]. UNLESS A POLITICAL SOLUTION IS FOUND IN RWANDA, ANTI-RWANDA REBELS] ARE GOING TO CONTINUE FIGHTING. // END OPT // // END ACT (END OPT) // // OPT // BESIDES RWANDA, ANOTHER WINNER FROM THE CONGO WAR MAY BE LIBYA'S MUAMMAR GADAFFI. PROFESSOR REYNTJENS SAYS HE HAS GAINED RECOGNITION AS A MEDIATOR ON THE CONTINENT. // END OPT // // OPT: REYNTJENS ACT // ONE OF THE BREAKTHROUGHS IN THE CONGO WAR] HAS BEEN THE MEETING HELD [UNDER GADAFFI'S LEADERSHIP] IN SIRTE, LIBYA, WHERE HE'D INVITED THE WARRING PARTIES. THERE, FOR THE FIRST TIME, MUSEVENI AND KABILA MET AND SUBSCRIBED TO A PEACE DEAL; NOW THIS HAS INSTILLED SOME MOMENTUM TO WHAT WE ARE NOW WITNESSING IN LUSAKA. BUT MY FEELING IS THAT ALTHOUGH GADAFFI IS NOT PARTICULARLY INTERESTED IN BRINGING PEACE TO CENTRAL AFRICA, BUT RATHER ENDING HIS OWN POLITICAL AND DIPLOMATIC ISOLATION - IN SUBSEQUENT MEETINGS [TO SIRTE] THAT INCLUDED RWANDA, HE HAS FORCED SOME SORT OF A BREAKTHROUGH. // END ACT // // END OPT // BUT THE LUSAKA PEACE ACCORDS -- OR AN END TO CONGO'S CIVIL WAR -- MAY NOT GUARANTEE REGIONAL STABILITY. PROFESSOR REYNTJENS SAYS IDEALLY, REGIONAL PEACE CONFERENCES -- LIKE THE ONE IN LUSAKA THIS WEEK -- SHOULD BE FOLLOWED BY DOMESTIC PEACE CONFERENCES IN OTHER COUNTRIES OF THE REGION THAT WOULD SEEK AN END TO THEIR OWN CIVIL WARS.. BUT HE DOUBTS THAT WILL HAPPEN SOON. HE SAYS THE COUNTRIES OF SOUTHERN AND CENTRAL AFRICA ARE ALL IN VARIOUS STAGES OF CONFLICT AND DIALOGUE WITH INTERNAL OPPONENTS. HE SAYS IT WILL PROBABLY TAKE MOST OF THESE COUNTRIES A WHILE TO REALIZE THAT COMPROMISE, CONSENSUS, AND ELECTIONS ARE BETTER THAN BULLETS. (SIGNED) NEB/WE/AG/KL 09-Jul-99 3:33 PM EDT (1933 UTC) NNNN Source: Voice of America .





NEWSLETTER
Join the GlobalSecurity.org mailing list