Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Prunier now Alarmed

Gerard Prunier is an excellent historian and usually has a sound judgment about the situation in the DRC. Last week, he sounded fairly upbeat about the Rwandan incursion: "Definitely, yes [this is welcome for the people of the Kivus and the DRC peace process]. These guys were coming anyway in disguised form. So they might as well come openly ... All in all it is a good start. But now let's see how it will end. So many things have gone awry before!"

Today he sounds far more alarmed:
"Problems are already piling up. And the main problem comes from [...] the fact that Kabila did not consult with his constituency before allowing [in] the Rwandese army," Gerard Prunier, a historian on eastern and central African affairs, told IRIN.

"This is a grievous mistake. The people in the East are his voters and calling in the [Rwandan army] is not exactly what they wished for when they elected him."

"I don't think the [Rwandan army] is in Kivu just to cleanse the earth of the FDLR," he said. "The point is to control the mines which the FDLR now controls and to share the proceeds with the Kinshasa administration rather than with the Hutu genocidaires," Prunier said.

"But how can you extirpate the FDLR? It is deeply embedded in the local social fabric. In order to extract the parasite you might have to dig deep into the flesh and it will hurt," he said. "You could do it with local support. But if you try to ram this 'solution' down the throats of a reluctant and fearful local constituency, you are not likely to get the cooperation you desperately need."

This local constituency includes a variety of armed groups collectively known as Mayi Mayi, who in recent years have been broadly allied with the Kinshasa government and the FDLR against the CNDP.

For Prunier, the Mayi Mayi "are the barometer and they are hostile" to the disarmament operation. "The whole thing might end up in a very bloody confrontation indeed," he warned.

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