Amid good news, doubts

Two bits of good news broke today––first, Bosco Ntaganda turned himself in at the US embassy in Kigali. Apparently, he thought an almost sure prison sentence was better than his other options––the Rwandan government probably either forced him to hand himself over or he was so afraid of what would happen if they arrested him (or Makenga got a hold of him) that he made a run for the embassy.

The second piece of good news was the nomination of Mary Robinson as UN Special Envoy––as former Irish president and UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, she has a higher profile than the other candidates in the running (Jean Ping and Said Djinnit had been floated).

But allow me to rain on the parade, and to join up these two pieces of information. Robinson was appointed as UN envoy in order to pilot the implementation of the recently-signed Framework Agreement. However, the agreement was very vague, consisting of two parts: an end to neighbors meddling in the Congo and reform of the Congolese state. Robinson will have to put meat on the its bones. However, if Kabila manages to strike a deal with Makenga’s M23, then logic of the framework could easily fray: Kabila thought it was necessary to sign up to a relatively intrusive deal in order to bring an end to the M23 threat. Without the M23, Kabila no longer needs the Framework Agreement.

There is, of course, still some way to go before there is a deal between Makenga and Kabila. And even then, it is possible that donors could squeeze some water from that rock. But Robinson faces a steep climb.