Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Rwanda has invaded DR Congo... maybe

Rwanda has invaded its gigantic neighbor, the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Or maybe it hasn't.

No one's quite sure. And Kigali is doing its best to muddle the issue. An advisor to Rwandan President Paul Kagame, interviewed yesterday on the BBC World Service's Focus on Africa program, was asked point blank three times if Rwanda had already sent troops into the DRC. Three times, the advisor refused to specifically answer the question.

The BBC reported today that Kagame told legislators that Rwandan troops may already have crossed into the Democratic Republic of Congo in pursuit of Hutu rebels... He told senators attempts to disarm forces across the border "will not take long, or it is even happening now".

As was the case in its two previous invasions of the DRC, Kagame claims the reason was to destroy former fighters who perpertrated the 1994 genocide and are allegedly hiding in the east of the DRC.

In its 1998 invasion of the DRC, Rwanda claimed it was merely giving itself a buffer zone against cross-border raids. It occupied land up to 1000 miles into DRC territory. That's one heck of a 'buffer zone.'

Some Congolese analysts say that the real reason behind Rwanda's threats is that President Joseph Kabila has recalled the governor of North Kivu province, based in Goma, who is from the Rwandan-backed RCD former rebel group.

Chippla, over at his blog, observes: Both Rwanda and Uganda are among countries accused by the UN of plundering the DRC's resources during the war. I tend to think Rwanda has a vested interest in the DRC that goes beyond hunting down rebels. Unfortunately, Kagame might likely just defy the Security Council with no repercussions. Rwanda seems to have an eternal excuse: "Where were you guys during the 1994 genocide. We need to ensure that such never happens again". This excuse might just be good enough to silence most nations on the Security Council.

Kagame, who's becoming the boy who cried wolf, uses 'divisionism' as a catch-all phrase to silence anyone who disagree with his government's policies.

The 1998-2002 conflict in eastern DRC, which also involved several other African countries and is generally seen as Africa's first continental war, directly or indirectly cost over three million lives.

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