M23 in context

14 December 2012 | ResolutionPossible

Following our blog about the M23, an armed group operating in the Democratic Republic of Congo, and the questions raised by the media’s focus on this group, one of our contacts in Rwanda sent us this article from the New York Times: To save Congo, let it fall apart.

"Kivu State" "Independent Kivu"

A map of the Kivu’s as it would be if the two provinces were joined as an independent state. The site where we found this has named it the United Republic of Kivu, complete with flag and Citizenship Oath. Could this be a solution?

The article relates to the question of whether there should no longer be one united Congo, but smaller nations derived from it. Our blog mentioned the prospect of an independent ‘Kivu State’, which would encompass North and South Kivu, provinces in eastern Congo.

The author of the NYT article believes that although the M23’s methods may be questionable, he understands locals who feel they can relate more to a group consisting of people of their own ethnicity than to a government seated hundreds of miles from their homes with no fair representation of their needs. He carries on to say that:

‘Others have dismissed the M23 leaders as “warlords.” But warlords, even if they do not acquire power through democratic means, tend to provide some sort of political framework, often based on kinship ties or ethnic solidarity, that is seen as legitimate. They also tend to provide some basic security — which is more than the questionably legitimate Kabila government in Kinshasa provides for most Congolese.’

The author states that should Congo be allowed to split into smaller nations, less effort could be wasted on trying to create unity amongst people who are not united at all and perhaps will never be. Instead, focus can be put on sustainable development:

‘If Congo were permitted to break up into smaller entities, the international community could devote its increasingly scarce resources to humanitarian relief and development, rather than trying, as the United Nations Security Council has pledged, to preserve the “sovereignty, independence, unity, and territorial integrity” of a fictional state that is of value only to the political elites who have clawed their way to the top in order to plunder Congo’s resources and fund the patronage networks that ensure that they will remain in power.’

Of course there are challenges with this. Will the western part of the Congo ever allow the Kivu states to become independent, with all their natural riches? If various new nations are created, will there be more power struggles to decide who runs each country?

The author, J. Peter Pham, is an experienced writer of African affairs. However, he is not from the region nor does he live there. Does this make a difference to the value of his opinion? How would Congolese people feel about Congo splitting up into smaller countries? How would it affect their lives?

Please comment below or email us to share your thoughts.

Speak Your Mind

Tell us what you're thinking...
and oh, if you want a pic to show with your comment, go get a gravatar!

You must be logged in to post a comment.