Saturday, July 10, 2004

African Union: dealing with the DRC

The third African Union (AU) Summit was held July 6-8 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The following is the fourth of eight summit summaries.

DRC = Democratic Republic of Congo (a.k.a. Congo-Kinshasa, formerly Zaire)

The AU leaders stated their confidence in the Congolese Transitional Government and called on the DRC and Rwanda to normalise their relations.

Congolese President Joseph Kabila did not attend the Summit. The plan had been for him to meet with Rwandan President Paul Kagame at a mini-summit held on the side of the main meeting. The organizers had hoped to get the two leaders to build on the thaw in their relations that began some two weeks ago in Abuja. According to the DRC's ambassador to Zimbabwe, Mawampanga Mwanananga, Kabila was upset by comments made by Alpha Omar Konare, Chairperson of the Commission of the AU.
He [ambassador] said President Kabila had been angered by statements made by [... Konare] that Rwanda was not involved in the military conflict in the eastern parts of DRC.

"Mr Konare said publicly that he did not have proof that Rwanda was involved in the eastern DRC conflict and this did not come from him, but from his deputy who is a Rwandese," the DRC ambassador said.

Mr Mwanananga said what was surprising was that Mr Konare had in the past said that Rwanda was involved in the eastern DRC conflict. He accused the AU of applying double standards. (source)
Konare's "Rwandan deputy" is Patrick Mazimhaka. Recall that the DRC and Rwanda were at war for years ... keep that in mind when assessing Mwanananga's allegations about the influence Mazimhaka wields.

As for what caused Kabila's ire ...

On July 4, a couple of days before the start of the Summit, Konare delivered a report on the situation in the DRC that was generally critical of Kabila's handling of the DRC's transition process ... and on the issue of Rwanda, said simply ...
[...] the direct involvement of Rwanda in the Bukavu events, siding with dissident officers, has not been proven. (source)

Despite Kabila's absence, the planned mini-summit on the DRC's relations with Rwanda, went ahead on Tueaday. The DRC's Foreign Minister, Antoine Mangalibi, subbed for Kabila. The mini-summit was called by the UN's Secretary General, Kofi Annan and was attended by Rwandan President Kagame, several other leaders including the presidents of Uganda, Burundi, and Nigeria, and William Swing, head of UN Mission in the DRC (MONUC). According to this report, the talks weren't too successful because Kabila wasn't there.

I haven't been able to find many details about what went on at the mini-summit ... except in one local Congolese paper, via the the MONUC website, which recounts an exchange between Annan and Kagame.
During the mini-summit on the DRC crisis, the United Nations Secretary-General, Kofi Annan reportedly banged his fists on the table, Le Palmar├Ęs says, due to "Kagame's attempts to disrupt the DRC transition", the paper writes, echoing Mr. Kofi Annan's statement: "I will no longer tolerate attempts for the destabilisation of the Democratic Republic of Congo". Annan and Kagame has been "at odds" over the Rwandan genocide, the paper says, indicating that "Annan took revenge on the arrogant Kagame when reacting to his outburst in Addis-Ababa". (source)
NOTE: The MONUC website offers synopses, in English, of some of the major stories appearing in the local papers.

NOTE: I have not found another story that mentions an angry exchange between Annan and Kagame.

Previous AU Summit summaries ....
  • African Union: "the mercenary threat"
  • African Union: location, location, location
  • African Union: who pays?