The time is up for UN Peacekeeping troops in the DR Congo this month.
But the exit strategy is far from clear as both sides are behaving like Las Vegas gamblers – keeping cards closest to their chests and whether it’s an ace or a queen, it’s hard to tell.
That the Congolese government asked the UN to start a phased withdrawal of Monuc, the peacekeeping troops and end the operation by June 2011 did not come as a huge surprise.
All the while, the government has been making blank noises to put the UN on the ready. The snap message was more unlike what the UN has done in other war affected countries in the past. The message announcing the withdrawal was not twisted in bureaucratic jargons or laced with long phrases.
Interpretation is.. ..the UN must start moving. This time it’s the Congolese government that has put the UN on the hop.
What has still not been said is how the government intends to sustain the low level security the UN has been able to wrestle from the five year mess which killed millions of people. Whether there is a signed regional pact by Border States to keep the peace on a balancing scale.
It all smacks of sabre-rattling, a sort of mother knows all which in the end can likely reverse the gains.
The main thrust however remains the uncertain security imbalance in Eastern Congo where rebels rule, killing rural communities and torching thatched huts.
For President Joseph Kabila, the ordeal remains. It will be a joke to suggest that the Congolese government troops are battle ready. Most of them as the Americans would say ”follow the money” and in this instance the following leads to mating with rebel groups who plunder gold and diamonds to sell it across the Rwandan border. The Kabuhanga border near Rwanda’s Ruhengeri District in North Kivu is the trading post.
The loop side of things is that government soldiers do brisk business with forces they are supposed to be fighting against.
The Congo will always remain an attraction to both honest and rogue investors as its wealth is estimated at 24 trillion US dollars matching the GDP of Europe and US combined. It also surpasses the 18 trillion dollar oil reserves of Saudi Arabia.
Gold, diamond and colt an are some of the valued minerals.
Kabila faces his second presidential election in the second half of 2011 so the signal now is that he should start to plan as the storm to keep him out is slowly gathering. It is forecast to be an ill wind that won’t blow him any good.
It means that the whole scenario is like walking on eggshells.