Monday, 10 November 2008

New European diplomacy in the DRC and Rwanda

The French and UK governments are acting in concert over the recent fighting in the Democratic Republic of Congo, with their foreign ministers touring the region in an attempt to bring diplomatic pressure to bear on the belligerents and other concerned parties, including Rwanda which has shared goals with one of warring groups. The show of European unity is noticeable as Rwanda has strongly aligned itself with the UK and against France to the extent of recently changing its national official language. It receives large financial support from the UK.

The tone of presentation in the UK media has also shifted, with Rwanda subject to more negative reporting than previously for its role in the conflict. There has been a relative suspension of criticism of France's regional role, whose acts in the 1994 civil war and ethnic slaughter in Rwanda has often been excoriated by UK commentators. Incidentally, the 1999 UN report into the 1994 events, discussing public statements at the United Nations, makes for a much less comfortable comparison between the UK and France, or even the UK and US.

The attention to the present DRC conflict, rather than the conflict itself, is the change in recent weeks. Hopefully the diplomacy will bring some results.

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