The Problem of the Disarmament of the Negative Forces in the Democratic Republic of Congo: A Critical Analysis of Possible Options

By Dr. Rusamira, Etienne | Strategic Review for Southern Africa, November 2002 | Go to article overview

The Problem of the Disarmament of the Negative Forces in the Democratic Republic of Congo: A Critical Analysis of Possible Options


Dr. Rusamira, Etienne, Strategic Review for Southern Africa


ABSTRACT

The disarmament of so-called negative forces in Democratic Republic of Congo remains the main condition of neighbouring countries for the withdrawal of their own military forces. This article presents a critical analysis of the Disarmament, Demobilization, Repatriation, Reinstallation and Reintegration (DDRRR) programme and of the two other available options (military and political). In reference to certain elements contained in the Lusaka Peace Agreement and in the mandate of the United Nations ceasefire observation mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo, and also taking into account the prevailing political and military alliances on the ground, it is clearly demonstrated, from a legal and operational perspective, that the DDRRR programme has no chance of success in the present regional and international context. As far as the military option is concerned, it is argued that its success cannot be guaranteed in the absence of a prior process of reconciliation between the different ethnic groups involved i n the conflict. On the other hand the negative forces cannot contemplate the possibility at this time of a political process leading to their disarmament.

1. INTRODUCTION

The Lusaka Peace Agreement provided for the disarmament of the foreign-armed groups operating on Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) territory and posing a threat to the security of their countries of origin. The commitments made by the parties during the signing of the agreement were not respected. This raises the issue, linked to the return of peace in the region, of how the so-called negative forces in the eastern DRC should be disarmed.

In the case of an armed conflict involving non-state actors (rebel movements or armed groups), either of the following routes could result in disarmament:

-- The use of force that leads to a complete victory for the state over the armed groups.

-- The end of the armed struggle after political negotiations or the implosion of the rebel movements.

Both outcomes should be followed either by integration of ex-combatants into the national army or by their demobilisation and attendant reincorporation into civilian life. In the case of the Congolese conflict, the use of force, while it remains the only option would entail a continuation of the war in the eastern DRC both between foreign state forces and non-state forces.

During the United Nations (UN) General Assembly session of November 2001 the UN launched Phase III of the UN Mission in Congo (known by its French acronym of MONUC). This third phase was officially implemented through Security Council Resolution 1376 (2001), main component of which is the programme known as Disarmament, Demobilization, Repatriation, Reinstallation and Reintegration (DDRRR). However, can a disarmament process actually materialise if it is not based on either of the two options mentioned above or on MONUC's existing mandate?

In the current situation the answer is no, for the simple reason that what is defined as "disarmament" in the framework of this programme is in fact a simple process of recovering and reinserting deserters or prisoners of war who are already in the hands of the different belligerent states. But even in this case, a formal demand for financial and technical assistance is required from these countries or administrations concerned (four in the case of the DRC) so that the UN can help them in the framework of a reintegration process aimed at returning these ex-combatants to civilian life.

This is, for example, the case with nearly 2 000 former militias of the Armee de Liberation du Rwanda I (ALIR I), of whom 1 695 (1) completed their four months' training in political re-education centres located in Mudende and Nkumba, in Rwanda in December 2001. However, the Rwandan government has to date expressed no intention to ask for UN assistance in this matter. Kigali is managing the issue within the framework of its National Demobilization Commission. …

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