Friday, January 23, 2009

Nkunda arrested

DR Congo rebel leader Laurent Nkunda was arrested by Rwandan troops. The arrest came only days after the launching of a joint military operation between the Congolese and Rwandan national armies (a mission not universally appreciated), after years of tension between the two governments. The DRC has called for Nkunda's extradition.

Rwanda was long accused of being his benefactor. Nkunda was originally a military leader in the RPF, the movement now in power in Kigali. Nkunda then joined the forces of Laurent-Désiré Kabila, which overthrown the Mobutu regime and whose son is now the DRC's head of state.

However, a BBC analysis believes that Nkunda's big mistake was launching a vicious military offensive last October around Goma that caused widespread international condemnation. The BBC analyst believes that this opened the space for a new relationship between Kinshasa and Kigali.

In mid-January, a group of soldiers part of Nkunda's movement claimed to have ousted him as leader.

A week later, he's in detention.

Some are optimistic that Nkunda's departure from the scene may lead to peace in the eastern DRC, a region devastated by war and instability for over a dozen years. But with the massive 'interest' and always murky activities in the country's mineral resources, caution is prudent.

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