Blinken’s Message Falls on Deaf Ears: Tshisekedi carries on undermining regional efforts at finding peace

In a recent phone call between US Secretary of State Antony Blinken made a strong appeal to President Tshisekedi, urging him to honor the commitments outlined in the Luanda and Nairobi Processes. These initiatives were seen by every good-faith actor as the best hope to bring an end to incessant conflict in the DRC (through dialogue and negotiations).

But Tshisekedi is only interested in perpetrating a systematic campaign of undermining the very initiatives he is supposed to uphold, and that even he has signed onto!

The Luanda roadmap, agreed upon by regional actors, emphasizes that the conflict between the Kinshasa government and the M23 should be treated as a national Congolese problem. It underscores the imperative of pursuing a negotiated settlement through the established framework of the Nairobi Process. Yet, Tshisekedi chooses to forge ahead with a war that exacts an unbearable toll on the lives of his own people. It begs the question: Why would a leader entrusted with the welfare of his nation willingly subject it to such devastation?

The answer lies in Tshisekedi’s quest for power and personal gain. By perpetuating the conflict, he stands to benefit from a complex web of self-serving agendas. Two possible motives come to the fore:

Firstly, by prolonging the war, Tshisekedi gains an opportunity for unscrupulous financial maneuvering. Reports of collusion between the DRC army and various militias such as the tropical Nazi from FDLR responsible for heinous crimes highlight the potential for illicit profiteering. The chaotic backdrop of conflict provides fertile ground for siphoning off state resources, resulting in “exorbitant enrichment” at the expense of a nation already ravaged by poverty and instability.

Secondly, the continuation of the war presents Tshisekedi with a means to extend his tenure without the scrutiny of democratic elections. Under the guise of a war situation, he could justify remaining in power, flouting the principles of accountability and democratic governance. This political maneuver, known as “sliding” in Congo, allows him to consolidate his grip on authority while depriving the people of their right to choose their leader through a fair and transparent electoral process.

In the face of these troubling realities, Tshisekedi’s actions flagrantly violate the trust placed in him by regional actors who earnestly seek a peaceful resolution to the conflict. The Luanda and Nairobi peace processes, endorsed by key stakeholders, emphasize the importance of dialogue and negotiation as the pathway to lasting peace. By disregarding these regional initiatives, Tshisekedi not only undermines the collective efforts to find a resolution but also erodes the trust and credibility of the DRC on the international stage.

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