Friday, July 21, 2006

DRC: Countdown to Elections: D-9

It seems as though the European disuasion forces of EUFOR-RDC were tired of being billed a cosmetic PR stunt. They decided to show what they are capable of:
Reuters AlertNet - EU force shows muscle ahead of Congo polls: "KINSHASA, July 20 (Reuters) - A European Union military force sent to Congo showed off its firepower and technology on Thursday, saying it was ready to help U.N. peacekeepers maintain security during this month's elections.

Soldiers parachuted into their Kinshasa base from helicopters before special forces teams performed a simulated hostage rescue and the force illustrated how it could quickly deploy men and armoured vehicles.

Congolese politicians, military personnel, as well as foreign and local media were also shown the unmanned surveillance planes and weaponry the force has as its disposal."
Well, that's good... but I still think they are there for show, and to evacuate Western foreigners in case of a post-electoral catastrophe. After seeing what is happening in Lebanon, with a flotila of soldiers coming to rescue Westerners, it seems quite logical. The Europeans do not want 1960 to repeat itself, and they want to be able to cut their losses. Pragmatically speaking, I can't say I blame them. Ethically, well... they colonized us once, so ethics is not always something I expect from their governments. And their superpower-of-a-cousin to the West is indifferent at best, accomplice at worst. So as Congolese people, we are left alone, facing former rebel leaders, powerful government officials, and popular/populist opposition parties, all claiming to want the good of our people, and all intent on being in power, some at any cost. Hence my slight apprehension of these elections. The UN is already denouncing irregularities, and people are less and less convinced that the elections will be free and fair.

Here are images of tuesday's protests (from TV5, in French. The newscast does not stop after the Congo topic).

Also, the site of the UN Mission in Congo, has news pieces from their staff, and from major news sources, updated daily (except on weekends), in english and in french. And of course, The Salon is always here to give you all we can find, and our modest insight.

(To Be Continued...)


Black River Eagle said...

Don't worry about the EU's superpower ally to the West, keep an eye on the rising economic and military powers to your East, especially the ones busy down in Katanga and over in the Kivus and in Oriental provinces stealing your natural resources.

It is inaccurate to say that the U.S. is indifferent and it is very unfair. In addition to paying a substantial share of the MONUC budget and providing all kinds of experts and development and humanitarian personnel to the DRC, would you also like us to send in the U.S. Marines to help secure the elections? What's your beef with the U.S.A. policies and support for the people of the DR Congo?

I hear that the new Managing Director of the DRC's Gecamines copper and cobalt operations is an expert from Canada (Paul Fortyn), and the CEO of the Gecamines is a Congolese businessman named Jean Sekinomyo (probably mispelled his name). Main financial investors in the DRC's largest and most important mining operation are coming from Europe and PR China (Kabila's buddies). Jeff Koinange of CNNI reported from the Gecamines complex near Lubumbasha this week for the CNN "Eye on Africa" Special Report series. I just luv the presentation of facts and accuracy in professional and citizen news reporting, don't you?

The International Crisis Group has just released a new report on the DRC titled "Escaping the Conflict Trap: Promoting Good Governance in the Congo". Thought that you and your readers may want to read the summary online and download this 35-page report for a better understanding of what newly elected leaders and parliamentarians face in the DRC:

Won't be long now 'til election day and it certainly won't be as bad as anything we have seen over in Lebanon or Palestine lately.

TheMalau said...

BRE, brother, I understand your reluctance to see the somewhat regressive role the US has played in the past 10 years in Congo. Once again, the fact that China or whoever else is engaging in questionnable practices in the Congo, does not exonerate US interests for doing the exact same. I will remind you of the roles played by Anglo-American in support of the various rebellions; and also the somewhat blind support of Kagame and Museveni, which engedered the whole conflict in the first place. And should we talk about all the companies preying on our coltan?

I have no beef with the US supporting Congo. I have a beef with the US, EU et al trying to revert us to the days where foreign powers decided who was going to lead us. They give us money, and now they want to guarantee that they get the outcome that benefits them. I know that beggers are not choosers, but damn! They have all been using the fact that they gave money, to impose their conditions, even if it means less than fair elections.

You asked what I want. I want the US, EU, China, South Africa, whoever to be fair and neutral, and not to even tacitly support any candidate, and for them not to be blind in the face of the oh so obvious irregularities in the process. Is that really too much to ask?

You know, just a little secret for you. See, my father who is very old, has been in the military since the Belgians ruled us. If he told you what the US did to support the Mobutu regime, and the Kagame invasion of my country (I cannot say more), you would have a pretty skeptical view of their actions today too.

TheMalau said...

One more thing. I love Jeff Koinange, and I respect and admire the work he does, and frankly his rise in the CNN world, and the focus he has been able to bring to the continent. That said, as a Congoese person, I must say that considering that we are the 3rd biggest country in the continent, and we have the cornerstone position that we have, you would think "Eye on Africa" would include Congolese leaders interviews too. They prefered to go for Kagame... And it is not a language thing, all the main Congolese leaders are multi-lingual, including english.

Black River Eagle said...

Understood. At least we are helping to get the "dirty laundry" of post-colonial Zaire (DRC) out into the open for all to see and to contemplate. I just want us both to stay honest and accurate in what we say and/or write about the DRC.

My greetings to your father and a big salute to him for being able to survive all the turmoil and changes over so many decades. Perhaps one day soon he may be able to share some of his knowledge and wisdom about the Congo with us here in the blogosphere. We can use every bit of help with the truth that we can get.

It was interesting to see the interview with Paul Kagame of Rwanda as he is really pushing his good-guy leadership image. I think that CNN's Femi Oke and Jim Clancy were in charge of the Eye on Africa special along with the program's executive producer. The DRC's Joe Kabila is in no mood for another CNN interview after that last debacle re: the surprise video sprung on him by Koinange. Opposition presidential candidates in the DRC seem to be having a real tough time getting airtime on international TV news networks.

Any way it goes, after these elections the Congolese can build upon the process and attempt to steer the government in a direction that for once serves all the people of your vast country. At the same time, journalists, bloggers, and other interested parties can keep hammering away at the bad guys until they give up in frustration and/or are brought to justice for the crimes they have already committed and the crimes that are "in the works".

BTW: Anglo-American is a British-South African enterprise, not an American company. A question that you (and other Africans) should be asking is "what the ---- is South African President Mbeki trying to accomplish in the DRC outside of his stated goals of helping to establish peace and tranquility in the region? What is Zimbabwe's Robert Mugabe's cut on the action down in Katanga and elsewhere across the DRC?"

TheMalau said...

Points well taken, brother BRE. I agree, there is a lot of dirty laundry to take care of. I am very aware of the UK/RSA nature of Anglo-American. But you also have to understand that in terms of their African agenda (economically speaking), the UK and the US have not been divergent in a long while. And on the field, major American and British (and South African) investors, use the umbrella of these mega-corporations to infiltrate the markets incognito, and to influence the political/military situation to their advantage (which often implies promoting a maintainance of the status-quo, which is very beneficial to them financially). And what we are not seeing, as Congolese, is a true condemnation of those practices by their home countries.

South Africa? They are the local superpower, and they are acting like a superpower: part inspiration, part bullying. :)

Mugabe is seen very differently by many Africans, than he is seen here. See he is homophobic (like many Africans), and he claims to be trying to return power in sub-saharsn Africa to its rightful owners, Black people (which has a great deal of resonance for many black Africans, especially after apartheid). But he is definitely just as coroprate as the next dictator, and Congo just makes it worse.

I have to write an update tonight, on J-6. It's hard to do roundups.

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