By: Jennifer Fierberg
When President Barack Obama came into office he rode in on the white horse of the “Obama Law.” Many activist and journalist breathed hope that President Obama would bring change to Central Africa by the strategic and specific law set forth by Mr. Obama as well as Hillary Clinton known as Public Law 109-456 in which they clearly wrote: “The Secretary of State is authorized to withhold assistance made available under the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 (22 U.S.C. 2151 et seq.), other than humanitarian, peacekeeping, and counterterrorism assistance, for a foreign country if the Secretary determines that the government of the foreign country is taking actions to destabilize the Democratic Republic of the Congo.” President Obama has not enforced this law.
Rwanda, under the leadership of President Paul Kagame, had spent the last 20 years destabilizing Eastern DRC through various proxy wars. There are thousands of pages worth of reports by the UN Group of experts, Human Rights Watch, NGO’s, Amnesty International and many other reputable organizations that have gone unheeded by the US government and have allowed President Kagame to loot, kill and rape with impunity and with the full support of President Barack Obama.
Even as Obama took on his second term in office, President Kagame was in full force destabilizing the Eastern region of DRC through his proxy force the M23. How did President Obama react? He made a phone call to President Kagame telling him to stop. He slapped him on the wrist and then basically “fist-bumped” him for his great work in Rwanda. Nothing more happened.
President Obama does not lack the Intel on the happening of President Kagame in Central Africa nor is he ignorant of the six-million lives lost in DRC since 1994 at the hands and command of President Kagame. President Obama chooses to be blind to it. He chooses to turn his back on those in Eastern DRC in order to not have to put American boots on the ground in Africa via various peacekeeping missions. Rwanda is famous for sending their soldiers and police personnel to Sudan, Darfur and CAR so US soldiers do not have to. Yet, has anyone looked into if the money the US is paying Rwanda for these services actually getting to the soldiers on the ground? I implore President Obama to investigate this matter. There is no doubt that these Rwandan Peacekeepers are doing a solid job of protecting civilians and areas they are assigned to but at what cost? Are the lives saved in South Sudan, Darfur and CAR more valuable than those in the Democratic Republic of Congo?
Now, in a new twist on the Central African complexities, Secretary of State John Kerry visited President Kabila of DRC with the message to “step down” at the end of his current presidential term and honor the constitutional term limits set forth by the DRC Constitution. President Kabila has made no public announcement either way if he will run again or not. Although, why is John Kerry not holding President Kagame to the same standard?
President Kagame and the ruling party in Rwanda adopted a new constitution after seizing power which allowed for a sitting president to hold two 7 year terms. Kagame is nearing the end of his second term in 2016 but no US Government official has made any mention or special trip to Rwanda to encourage President Kagame to honor his constitution as well.
Has the international community become too blinded by the only success Kagame has had in office, namely his track of development in the capitol city of Kigali (aka shiny glass buildings) to not care? The sordid underbelly of Kagame’s Rwanda is full of corruption, lies and a government that bows to his every whim out of fear for their lives and jobs. In most interviews President Kagame has given in the last year each reporter has asked Kagame if he will run again in 2016; his response never varies to this question. He always provides a sadistic cackle and a “we will see what happens” response.
As we start the end of summer in the United States, President Barack Obama has begun preparing for his historic Africa Leaders Summit in which the majority of the presidents of the 54 African nations have been invited to Washington DC to participate in symposiums on various topics including investments, development, managing growth and leadership in Africa. President Kagame and President Kabila are both invited and attending this event. Obama is not allowing any private meetings with any sitting president or aid but he will entertain them in his house and city while thousands are suffering at his inaction.
President Obama is midterm in his final term as President of the United States and to say he has let down the people of Rwanda and DRC is an understatement. He has refused to implement the changes he penned in order to support his run for office. To say he has been an ostrich with his head in the sand on issues of Africa since his historic speech in Ghana is an understatement. This writer personally voted for Obama in both elections, the second one more reluctantly, in hopes he would enforce his Obama Law but no such hope has come to fruition.
If Obama leaves office and never holds President Kagame accountable for the crimes he has committed over the last 20 years then he will have wasted his opportunity to serve and do right by Rwandans and Congolese the world over.
He is allowing President Kagame to speak on Tuesday August 5th at the Mandarin Hotel hosted by Charlie Rose on issues of the region while Rwandans worldwide are organizing protests to inform Obama that he has missed his opportunity to make the effective change he fought for.
Writing laws has become a matter of convenience to obtain power for Obama, not a policy to effect change. It will be a sad day should Obama leave office and never hold Kagame accountable.
For more information on President Kagames crimes in the DRC watch this powerful 30 minute documentary called “Crisis in the Congo.”