Publish date 25-03-2023

by Fabrizio Floris

Time to kill Flaiano wrote about the war in Ethiopia in 1936, but now there is "peace" in Ethiopia and war persists in the Congo: it seems that in the Congo it is always time to kill. From the 18th century, groups of Tutsi shepherds began to settle in Kivu, in the Mwenga area, where the local chiefs granted them the use of the pastures.

Even before the colonial division sanctioned by the Berlin conference of 1884-1885, clans composed of both Hutu and Tutsi lived in the region of Rutshuru, in Walikale, in Goma and in the Masisi massif (currently the population of Rwandan origin in the Congo is about 3 million people, many of whom see rebel groups as armies of liberation).
In summary, history, demography and culture have intertwined and clashed in these territories and the discovery of ever new riches in the subsoil has added further complexity.

But the most explosive effect occurred in 1994 with the influx of Tutsi and Hutu refugees who fled the genocide in Rwanda: Congo became a place of transference for the Rwandan dispute to which other tensions (Uganda) and other groups were added and superimposed of guerrillas both independent and cross-supported by neighboring countries aimed at controlling the enormous mineral resources of the provinces of Kivu and Ituri.
Violence in recent years has been a constant with different peaks and levels, but since the state of emergency and martial law was decreed, the deaths and episodes of violence have doubled.

"They are killed like animals - says a doctor born in the region who asks to remain anonymous - in Congo there is no more hope, the faces of the people are dull, terrified, there is no longer the happiness typical of African villages, the enthusiasm for the host, the joy of the other.
The habit here is to see the dead scattered on the streets».

The violence is a daily news story, but it has escalated further since May 2022 when the pro-Rwandan Tutsi March 23 Movement (M23) launched an offensive that led it to control increasingly large parts of the territory, killing and displacing tens of thousands of people.
But the question behind these facts is why? Violence is an effect, but what is the cause?
M23 claims the attacks stem from the Congolese government's failure to reintegrate M23 servicemen into the Congolese army.
Then there is talk of the need to defend the Tutsis living in Congo and of commercial rivalries between Kigali and Kampala due to the desire to control the communication routes to pass coltan, gold and rare earths into their respective countries.
These would be the reasons behind the resumption of fighting of the M23.

The recent meetings between the M23 rebels and the Congolese army signal that a peace process is possible biso na biso (between us) because it is no longer or ever time for people to kill.

Fabrizio Floris
NP January 2023

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