Sunday, November 1, 2009

DRC: Depressing Topic - Reforming the Congolese Security Sector

Yesterday morning, I attended a panel discussion in the General John W. Vessey, Jr. Conference Hall, Industrial College of the Armed Forces, at the National Defense University, located at Fort McNair, in Washington, D.C. The panel was organized by the Africa Center for Strategic Studies at the National Defense University.

The topic of the panel was depressing for me and, I’d surmise, for the half-dozen Congolese in attendance: “Reforming the Congolese Security Sector: Which Way Forward?” The security sector is the Achilles’ heel of the Congo, especially with recent published reports from the North-Kivu Province documenting renewed acts of abuse of civilians and wanton rapes of women by Congolese soldiers.

As usual at such events, I had on me a digital camera and an audio recorder. But right at the beginning of the introduction of the panelists and topic by Joseph Siegle, Director of Research of the center and moderator of the panel discussion, I was kindly but firmly interrupted by Clifford Bernath, Director of Community Outreach and Public Affairs, who advised that I turn off the recorder. He told me it was against policy at the National Defense University to make audio recordings of proceedings. And, as if on cue, at that very moment, Siegle was explaining to the audience that under no circumstances would anyone mention or quote verbatim the panelists without their specific authorization.

Therefore, the panelists I mention — namely Anthony Gambino and Gérard Prunier (author of the massive Africa’s World War, Oxford University Press, 2008) — gave me the privilege of naming them when I solicited their permission at the end of the conference. But Gambino also asked me not to quote him but to expatiate in my own words. Thus, in my narrative of the presentations by the panelists, I will only give a general summary without attributing any specific parts to any of them.


By Alex Engwete

Source: Alex Engwete Blog (30/10/2009)

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