Thursday, December 20, 2012

US Assistant Secretary Johnnie Carson to House Armed Services Committee: M23’s military prowess provided by Rwandan government and Ugandan individuals

(PHOTO: Assistant Secretary Johnnie shaking hands after finishing a
testimony to Congress on Tuesday, May 25, 2010, in Room 2072 of the
Rayburn House Office Building, in Washington, DC)

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Tuesday, May 25, 2010, Room 2072 of the Rabyburn House Office
Building, Washington DC

[Below is the full opening statement of the testimony delivered to the
House Armed Services Committee on December 19 by Assistant Secretary
for African Affairs Johnnie Carson.

Also, there was a full page ad in the Washington Post a couple of
days ago placed by pro-Rwandan lobbies about how DRC has to step up to
the plate in terms of better governance. As if this justified that, as
would have quipped Victor Hugo. Unfortunately, that ad is unavailable
online, only in hardcopy. I'm however attempting to get the text of
the ad for a comment on this blog.]

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Update on the Evolving Security Situation in the Democratic Republic
of the Congo and Implications for U.S. National Security

Testimony

Johnnie Carson Assistant Secretary, Bureau of African Affairs

Testimony Before the House Armed Services Committee

Washington, DC

December 19, 2012

Chairman McKeon, Ranking Member Smith, and members of the Committee.
Thank you for the invitation to testify today on the crisis unfolding
in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, also referred to as
the D.R.C., and our comprehensive response.

The security and humanitarian situation in the D.R.C. is the most
volatile and violent in Africa today. An estimated five million people
have lost their lives since 1998, and millions more have been uprooted
and displaced. The people of North and South Kivu provinces in
particular have faced repeated cycles of conflict, atrocities, and
displacement, with the current crisis simply being the latest
iteration. The rapid fall of Goma last month to the Congolese rebel
group, known as the M23, provided a stark reminder that the root
causes of the entrenched instability and recurring conflicts in the
D.R.C. and the region remain unresolved.

At the highest levels of the U.S. Government, we are committed to
helping the D.R.C. and its neighbors end this cycle of violence and
instability, so that we do not find ourselves back here in three
years, facing yet another crisis in the eastern D.R.C. Secretary
Clinton, Ambassador Rice, Under Secretary for Political Affairs
Sherman, and I have spoken or met with senior Congolese, Rwandan,
Ugandan, and UN officials to advocate for a rapid and peaceful
resolution to this crisis.

I traveled to the region last month with my British and French
counterparts to press the Congolese, Rwandan, and Ugandan Governments
to work together to stop the crisis and to address the underlying
causes of instability. All three governments reiterated to us their
commitment to these shared goals. In the UN Security Council, we have
taken action to ensure that five of the most senior and most abusive
M23commanders are now under targeted sanctions, and we have placed
those same individuals under U.S. sanctions.

Talks between the D.R.C. Government and the M23 began on December 9 in
Kampala, and are being mediated by Uganda as the chair of the
International Conference on the Great Lakes Region, known as the
ICGLR. While the sides have yet to begin substantive talks, the
current ceasefire is holding and the parties continue to express
commitment to a dialogue.

Much of the M23's military prowess and success would not have been
possible without outside support. There is a credible body of evidence
that corroborates the assertions of the UN Group of Experts that the
Rwandan Government provided significant military and political support
to the M23. While there is evidence of individuals from Uganda
providing support to the M23, we do not have a body of evidence
suggesting that the Ugandan Government has a policy of supporting the
M23. Nonetheless, we continue to urge the Ugandan Government to ensure
that supplies to the M23 do not originate in or transit through
Ugandan territory. We have not limited our response to diplomacy
alone. As required by the FY 2012 Appropriations Act, Secretary
Clinton suspended Foreign Military Financing, or FMF, to Rwanda in FY
2012 because of its support to the M23. The Department continues to
closely monitor reports of external support, and we will continue to
respond appropriately, including by reviewing our assistance, to deter
this support if it should develops.

The highest levels of the U.S. Government are committed to helping the
D.R.C. and the region achieve a sustainable peace. As my colleague Mr.
Chollet said, President Obama spoke yesterday with President Kagame
and underscored that any support to M23 is inconsistent with Rwanda's
desire for stability and peace in the region. President Obama
emphasized to President Kagame the importance of permanently ending
all support to armed groups in the D.R.C., abiding by the recent
communications he made in Kampala along with Presidents Kabila and
Museveni, and reaching a transparent and credible political agreement
that includes an end to impunity for M23 commanders and others who
have committed serious human rights abuses. President Obama believes
that from this crisis should emerge a political agreement that
addresses the underlying regional security, economic, and governance
issues while upholding the D.R.C.'s sovereignty and territorial
integrity. President Obama has also delivered the message to President
Kabila that the D.R.C. must take concrete steps toward security sector
reform and improved governance in order to reach a lasting peace in
the eastern D.R.C.

Looking forward, we are using all the tools at our disposal to help
address and end this crisis. We are monitoring humanitarian needs and
working to mobilize resources to ensure continued emergency assistance
to civilians in need. We are calling upon everyone involved in the
conflict to maintain the current cease-fire, to permit humanitarian
access, and to pursue a sustainable political resolution through
honest and meaningful dialogue.

While the talks between M23 and the D.R.C. Government continue, we
believe that direct dialogue between Presidents Kabila, Kagame, and
Museveni is paramount to achieving a long-term durable stability in
the region. Some of the root causes of this conflict can only be
addressed through government-to-government dialogue and negotiation.
These include issues of land tenure, refugee resettlement, the illegal
exploitation of natural resources, border security, and support
networks for armed groups.

While the responsibility to implement change rests first and foremost
with the governments of the region, we encourage the United Nations
Secretary-General to appoint a high-level UN Special Envoy to engage
the relevant countries on a sustained basis, help them reach a durable
political resolution, and ensure the successful implementation of that
resolution over the long-term.

Throughout this peacebuilding process, civilian protection is and must
remain a priority. The UN peacekeeping mission in the D.R.C., MONUSCO,
has come under very heavy scrutiny in recent weeks. While we believe
that MONUSCO's performance has been acceptable given the very
difficult circumstances, there is always room for improvement. We and
our fellow UN Security Council members and troop contributing
countries are reviewing the proposals on the table to improve
MONUSCO's capacity to protect civilians and counter armed groups. We
are encouraging our partners to ensure that any new efforts are
coordinated with, and perhaps even integrated into, the UN
peacekeeping efforts. In the meantime, we remain committed to
supporting MONUSCO's robust implementation of its current mandate.

The primary responsibility for protecting the D.R.C. and the Congolese
people rests with the D.R.C. Government itself. The crisis over the
past few months has demonstrated to devastating effect the critical
need for a professional and capable Congolese army that can protect
the country's citizens. To reach a sustainable peace, the D.R.C.
Government must accelerate its efforts towards comprehensive security
sector reform. We have and will continue to work with the D.R.C.
Government to professionalize its military, including continuing our
training to army officers and support to the armed forces' military
justice capacities.

Along with military reform, the D.R.C. Government must expand
governance across the country. The governance vacuum that exists in
parts of the country has allowed armed groups to set up parallel civil
administrations and to exploit the population. Efforts to expand
governance must include electoral reform, holding long-delayed
provincial and local elections, and strengthening state institutions
to provide much needed public services.

We believe that the time has come for the D.R.C. and the international
community to permanently break the cycle of violence and impunity that
exists in the region. Today's crisis is a deep tragedy, but it also
offers an opportunity to help the D.R.C. and the region to set a more
sustainable course toward peace, prosperity, and long-term security.
We urge the international community, the Great Lakes region, and the
Congolese people to demonstrate the resolve to achieve the peace and
prosperity that we know lays ahead for the D.R.C.

Thank you again for the opportunity to testify. I look forward to
answering your questions.

(Source: www.state.gov/p/af/rls/rm/2012/202276.htm)
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PHOTO: Alex Engwete

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