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CISSA Workshop in Kigali (Rwanda) : A buzzing beehive

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In August 2004, in Abudja, Nigeria, was created the last-born of the bureaucracies of the African Union---an already budget-gouging and unsustainable structure of impoverished African countries---called “Committee of Intelligence and Security Services of Africa” (CISSA). This bureaucracy, like other African Union bureaucracies, is afflicted with expensive punctual annual conferences, with a myriad of workshops in-between, during which delegates from member countries live at the expense of their governments for a week. To this day, this newly-born bureaucracy is at its 4th annual conference held in June of this year in Khartoum, Sudan, under the purring theme of “Towards Enhanced stability, peace, and security in Africa.” A theme that shows that African intelligence services are just as out-of-touch with reality as their governments. One wonders indeed how in the daily practice of intelligence-gathering such broad theme could have a pragmatic intelligence application. Like any other African Union bureaucracies, CISSA boasts an annual roving presidency. And this year, as if to mock the victims of the Darfur conflict, the head of Namibian intelligence service yield with pump CISSA presidency to his Sudanese counterpart!

This week, starting this Monday November 5 and during five days, within this framework of CISSA, a “technical” workshop of representatives of African intelligence services is being held in Kigali, the capital of Rwanda. In keeping with CISSA custom, the workshop chose to not deal with pressing issues of continental integration and cooperation in intelligence---like the issue of the articulation of CISSA to the Trans-Saharan Counter-Terrorism Initiative (TSCTI) or the request by Algeria of the integration of CISSA within the organization chart of the African Union, a mechanism that would ensure it functions without political interference by member states. Now, it’s this very political interference that seems to be at work this week in Kigali with a workshop whose theme, once more devoid of any pragmatic sense, is “Genocide ideology”---the subject the Rwandan government rides to death in its dealings with its opposition, and for which it got some flak this past week from Amnesty International. This infamous “genocide ideology” is indeed a kind of boogeyman the dictatorial regime of Rwanda conjures up time and again when it wants to repress Rwandan civil society. What do African intelligence services want to practically achieve with such a theme? The concerted muzzling of African civil society by the various national intelligence services? Or should this meeting just be considered as another one of those African conferences at which extra-mural shopping sprees are the most memorable activity of the participants?

The theme of this workshop in Kigali and the five days that the various national delegations will spend there are a blatant hijacking of the meager resources of the African Union and risk transmogrifying CISSA into a buzzing beehive with little grip on intelligence and security realities.


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Alex Engwete is a Congolese-American who lives in Kinshasa (DRC) and Washington, DC. Outrage at injustices is what usually stirs him into blogging in French or in English. He likes Congolese beers and drinks "Samuel Adams" while in the United (more...)
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