Norms and Values
Rwandan Context for the DR Congo Elections

One part of the world wants to show itself fighting on the side of good, while the part that does not listen to the first appears to be fighting on the side of evil. That is why such conflicts as the war in the east of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) do not often make headlines of the leading media, Valence Maniragena writes.

Today, the attention of the whole world is drawn to two points: Palestine, especially Gaza, which is being destroyed under the pretext of eradicating Hamas, and Ukraine, which, with the support of NATO, intends to defeat Russia at any cost. These two conflicts overshadow other conflicts that are taking place around the world. The latter are forgotten not because they claim fewer victims than the former, but rather because the lack of interest among the major players. The tragic events which struck Rwanda in the 90s took place almost in parallel with the wars which ravaged the former Yugoslavia. The UN decided to establish international tribunals for both of these conflicts: the ICTR (International Tribunal for Rwanda) and the ICTY (International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia). These two tribunals were supposed to condemn all criminals on the part of all parties to the conflict. In the case of the former Yugoslavia, we saw attempts to hold representatives of all parties to the conflict accountable. As for Rwanda, representatives of the losing side were convicted. Representatives of the side that started the war and won it were not involved. After all, the entire modern world has learned to look at itself through the eyes of those who want to force humanity to see itself the way they want it.

There is an eternal conflict between good and evil.

One part of the world wants to show itself fighting on the side of good, while the part that does not listen to the first appears to be fighting on the side of evil.

That is why such conflicts as the war in the east of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), the situation in the states destroyed by the so-called “Arab Spring” (Libya and Yemen), the situation in Sudan, in the states of West Africa (Mali, Niger, Guinea, and Burkina Faso) do not often make headlines of the leading media.

On December 20, 2023, if nothing extraordinary happens, presidential elections will be held in the DRC. If they take place, they will happen while the country is at war. Some of it is under the control of the M23 rebel movement, supported by Rwanda and Uganda. DRC President Félix Antoine Tshisekedi Tshilombo has repeatedly publicly accused Rwanda of interfering in the internal affairs of the DRC, speaking recently at the UN. The occupied territories of Masisi and Rutshuru in the province of North Kivu will not be able to participate in the elections. Let us recall that during the previous presidential elections in the DRC, there were territories that did not take part in the elections.

Norms and Values
African Turbulence: An Internal Process or the Consequence of Neocolonialism?
On October 26, the Valdai Club hosted an expert discussion dedicated to the protest movements in Africa. The moderator was Oleg Barabanov, programme director of the Club.
Club events

The Democratic Republic of the Congo, due to its geographical location on the map of Africa, is, in principle, intended to become the engine to achieve real independence and sovereignty of the entire continent. However, unfortunately, since independence was declared, the country hasn’t been able to free itself from excessive outside influence. The assassination of Prime Minister Patrice Lumumba in 1961 extinguished the flame of independence and sovereignty. The country’s leaders refocused on approving the colonialists. Incidentally, the political assassination of the prime minister of Congo was not the only one in the African Great Lakes region at that time. On October 13, 1961, Crown Prince Louis Rwagasore of Burundi, whose political party had won the Belgian-organised elections in his country, was also assassinated.

The war that began in Rwanda on October 1, 1990, with the goal of bringing about a change of power in this small country, had a hidden goal – to ensure the control of the wealth of then-Zaire (now the DRC) by the transnational organisations that financed it.

The Rwandan intelligentsia, as well as the intelligentsia of Burundi and what was then Zaire, did not understand and could not calculate in advance what this war was being fought over. These three states were part of the African Great Lakes Community, which was developing well economically and socially. The community at the time addressed the overpopulation problems of Rwanda and Burundi by guaranteeing the free movement of people and capital. But it happened that Burundi supported the attack on Rwanda by the Ugandan descendants of the former aristocracy of Rwanda. The Ugandan army units that attacked Rwanda on October 1, 1990 declared themselves members of the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF), an organisation created in December 1987 in Kampala, Uganda at the congress of the Rwandan Alliance for National Unity (RANU).

When it became clear that without control over the power in Rwanda, the RPF would not be able to pay its debts to its sponsors, the decision was made to kill the legitimate president of Rwanda and seize power by force. According to Noel Ndanyuzwe , the assassination of Rwandan President Juvénal Habyarimana was the centrepiece of a plan devised by Ugandan President Yoweri Kaguta (who came to power in 1986 after the 1980-1986 rebel war) together with Paul Kagame (who has been President of Rwanda since 2000) to destabilize Rwanda and the entire African Great Lakes region. After the RPF seized power in Rwanda under his leadership in July 1994, Kagame became the country’s vice president and minister of defence.

After many unsuccessful attempts to assassinate the president of Rwanda, the decision was made to attack the country. The war, which started on October 1, 1990 from the territory of Uganda, was supposed to be lightning fast. However, Rwandan armed forces, supported by France and Zaire, were able to drive the attackers back into Uganda on October 30, 1990. After this, a protracted war of attrition commenced.

Rwanda and Zaire, and even France, naively thought that the conflict concerned only Rwanda. Further developments would show that these three countries made deep mistakes. As Charles Onana states  in his book Holocaust in the Congo, the war in Rwanda was the preparatory stage of a plan to attack Zaire in order to overthrow Mobutu and gain access to that country’s vast wealth.

Since the outbreak of the war, the Rwandan government had sought to reach an agreement to end the conflict and conclude a peace treaty between the parties to the struggle. Using a “fight and talk” strategy, the RPF managed to gain a foothold in the north of the country in mid-1992. They began to expel the population from the conquered territory. By the time the peace agreements were signed in the Tanzanian city of Arusha on August 3, 1993, the internally displaced population exceeded 1.5 million.

In the same year, 1993, opposition candidate Melchior Ndadaye unexpectedly won the democratic elections for the presidency of the country in Burundi. Ndadaye won the presidential elections held on June 1, 1993 and took office as president on July 10, 1993. The victory of the Rwandan-Zairean-backed candidate alarmed those who were counting on an early RPF victory in Rwanda and an advance further west. President Melchior Ndadaye was assassinated on October 21, 1993 by the Burundian military. Based on the riots that followed the assassination, the CIA predicted that if President Juvenal Habyarimana was assassinated, at least 500,000 people would be killed in Rwanda. This is the number found in publications about the victims of the Rwandan genocide, which took place in Rwanda between April 6 and July 4, 1994.

After the capture of Kigali, a large number of Rwandan refugees ended up in Zaire in Goma and Bukavu. Charles Onana believes that what seems to have happened by chance turned out to be the result of a planned operation to overthrow president Mobutu. The movement of RPF forces into Kigali was carried out from the north, east and south. The population has only one escape route – to flee to Zaire.

The assassination of the Rwandan President on April 6 occurred while a UN peacekeeping contingent led by Canadian General Romeo Dallaire was in Rwanda. The tragedy of the resumption of hostilities by the RPF that followed this murder also took place before their eyes. Over the past 20 years, Congo has hosted the largest contingent of UN peacekeeping forces. Unfortunately, the presence of these forces in itself entails a security threat. The example of Rwanda and other countries speaks for itself. Today, the forces of the East African Community and the UN peacekeeping forces, in our opinion, should leave the DRC and give way to the forces of the Community of Southern African Countries. All this happens during an election period in which 24 candidates are participating. The Election commission says the elections will take place. God willing.

Norms and Values
BRICS Expansion as Non-West Consolidation? The Example of Voting in the UN General Assembly
Oleg Barabanov
The expansion of the BRICS and the announced admission of six new states to the group has become an important event in world politics. About two dozen more countries have also applied to join the BRICS. In this regard, the media and the expert community have begun to talk about a qualitative change in the geopolitical balance of power. Comparisons are made of the total GDP between the BRICS and the G7, their resource endowment, etc. All this is true. But aside from the move’s effect on economic indicators and symbolic strength in establishing a value alternative, the issue of internal consolidation is no less important for the political power of any international structure. BRICS is no exception.
Views expressed are of individual Members and Contributors, rather than the Club's, unless explicitly stated otherwise.