Freedom of expression and peace deals; a chat with Congolese journalists and activists

Congo is also like a little child, everybody thinks that they can bring us a solution without even properly reflecting on it, everybody on the outside.

Last week  I was in Congo to train a group  of journalists and activists in social media and activism. During this trip I interviewed 2 Goma-based journalists and a youth activist on the challenges of working in an area with conflicts that have no permanent front lines  Conflicts, in which often civilians pay the highest price as different armed groups fight over ever-changing political interests.  Late last year, Oxfam released a report that showed there were more than 25 armed groups in North and South Kivu provinces.

The latest conflict to hit Goma, the capital of natural resource rich North Kivu province in Eastern Congo, was last year when M23 rebels temporarily occupied the capital over disputes with government regarding their integration into the national army.

Often in these times, we mostly feed on reports from international media, written by journalists who fly in and out and can be fairly protected. In the case of Uganda we had most reporters covering the conflict from M23 frontline at the rebels invitation.

For Congolese journalists who are part of these communities who have suffered the wars for over a decade, the conditions are different. They often don’t have the protection of a large media house and they can make enemies with any groups no matter how ‘objective’ their reporting can be. Also in a country where the government troops commit crimes just like the militias do, the work of a local journalist or activist is tougher in Congo.

For instance, last year DRC government banned broadcasts on the conflict in eastern part of the country.

Continue reading “Freedom of expression and peace deals; a chat with Congolese journalists and activists”

Uganda threatens to withdraw troops from missions, UN distances self and Congo circus continues.

On Friday, Uganda’s Premier announced Uganda would pull its troops out of all peacekeeping mission over accusations that Uganda and some generals were backing M23 in Eastern DRC.

But like most people said, the threat was politicking which Uganda seems to gain an upper hand since the UNSC president has already said the report doesn’t necessarily reflect the views of the UN.

Could the views of UN be far from the contents of the report or could they be closer but UNSC will play safe in light of Uganda’s threats?

The UN Group of experts report will be out in about two weeks and seems by that time, Uganda and Rwanda and UN will have reached a settlement. This leaves the people of Congo in watching the same of old games.

Mineral looting vs security concerns

Uganda called the allegations in UN report baseless and complained that the UN wasn’t giving them credit where they have done well but this isn’t convincing. Our history in Congo shows that for every warlord that comes out strong, there’s a godfather in the neighbouring country.

This is done either by top generals in the armies with a blind eye of the presidents or big companies and agents who are trading in guns for minerals.  And many times the companies have a link to the top leadership in east African countries. However this is not to ignore role of western and Chinese companies in this conflict.

Continue reading “Uganda threatens to withdraw troops from missions, UN distances self and Congo circus continues.”