Sunday, April 10, 2005

Rwandan rebels promise to disarm

I was pleased to read that Rwandan Hutu rebels have agreed to end its armed struggle against the government in Kigali. If this is actually occurs, it could mark an important shift in Rwanda's history, as the rebels include many members who perpertrated the 1994 genocide.

The FDLR, which is thought to have about 10,000 fighters, denounced the genocide for the first time and said they would return home and form a political party after receiving safety guarantees.

For years, the regime of Paul Kagame, whose army overthrew the previous genocidal government, has complained of the rebels causing insecurity in Rwanda. He even used this as a pretext to launch several incursions into neighboring DR Congo where the rebels were based. The first invasion was announced as attempting to create a "security buffer"... but it extended as far as 1000 km (about 650 miles) into DRC territory -- by contast, the "buffer zone" in southern Lebanon that Israel occupied for over a decade was only 11 miles long.

In Rwanda, the Kagame regime has used insecurity as an excuse not only to invade the DRC, but to crack down on all forms of internal dissent. Nearly any opposition to his power is denounced as genocide revisionism. If indeed the FDLR integrates into the political process, it will be interesting to see if Kagame will find a new excuse to stiffle free expression.


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