DR Congo: The Sick Man of the Great Lakes Region

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By Joe Wacha

Once upon a time, there used to be a sick man of Europe, a term I learnt from Mr. Okello, my then History teacher at Lakeside College. At the time, the phrase referred to the Ottoman Empire, which was then in the face of a storm.

Fast—forward. The current ‘boil’ in the body of DR Congo in the name of M23 is just one of the many troubles that the different presidents of the country, including the current Joseph Kabila who succeeded his slain father, Laurent Kabila have had to deal with.

Hours ago, news headlines buzzed that Kabila Jnr was rushing to Kampala, the Goma, in the East of the DRC, fell to the M23. That Kabila and a recent supposedly-leaked UN report have accused Rwanda and Uganda of supporting the militia group wrecking havoc inside Congo is perhaps a tired trend.

DR Congo has never demonstrated in a long time that it is indeed a government capable of managing not only its huge natural resources but also the gigantic size of the country. DRC is the sick man of the Great Lakes region. One in need of a full dose of carefully prescribed treatment.

Like any illness, no neighbor should rush to celebrate the ailment or ignore the condition, lest the disease spreads to your own household.

The ailment inside DR Congo should be most worrying for Uganda than DR Congo itself or even the rest of the neighbors. Uganda and DR Congo share not only a border but a big water body called Lake Albert, which is home to several riches such as petroleum and various fish species.

That, and the fact that in the last spate of fighting in July, over 7,000 fled Kivu to Nyakabande reception centre in Uganda, according to UNCHCR

A sick DR Congo means Uganda remains vulnerable to the infection too. Instability of any sort in the neighborhood simply means Uganda cannot freely access and exploit the oil deposits that appear to straddle the border with Congo, neither can it have its fishermen freely operating on the Albert waters.

Already, lives have been lost in crossfire between forces of two countries on Lake Albert. A sick DR Congo is simply not what Uganda and indeed the rest of the Great Lakes region need, but most importantly, the Ugandan leadership should ensure it takes the lead in prescribing and administering a healing dose for Congo’s ailment.

And this time, the kind of involvement that ends with an-International-Court- of- Justice- kind- of- mind- baffling- amount- of- money- in- charges- for- wealth- plunder -from- DR Congo- should be avoided.

In : URN Blog

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