In celebration of the Democratic Republic of Congo’s Independence Day today, there is a Laurent Nkunda look-alike contest being held in the Kivus. While its difficult to beat a guy who had a pet goat and one rockin wardrobe, apparently there are many contenders. Winners will get control over the rebel group CNDP and live up to Conglese scholars’ Koen Vlassenroot and Timothy Raeymakers latest reflection in their African Affairs article, “Kivu’s Intractable Security Conundrum” :
While the Kinshasa government currently pursues a strategy of cooptation, whereby the more ‘moderate’ parts of the CNDP are integrated into the national army and other are left to the test, it is not unthinkable that new ‘Nkundas’ will soon stand up to challenge this recent power deal. Instead of attacking such new ‘emergencies’, the international community would do best to tackle the fundamental obstacle to peace in the DRC, which is the violent and privatized governance of public goods and resources.
Vlassenroot and Raeymakers make an important point about Nkunda. He was a sensationalist rebel leader whose spectacle drew more attention than the actual underlying structures of violence, ethnic tension, and Rwandan-Congolese relations that produced him as a rebel leader. Even though his arrest destabilized the CNDP and ushered in a new set of military policies and peace agreements, Nkunda was not the cause of the problem, just an outcome of the problem. And that problem has yet to be addressed in any meaningful way.
So, the contest is on. New and emerging Nkundas will be judged on their wild hobbies, bizarre pets, and ability to effectively execute the foxtrot.