Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Was Nkunda a victim of a financial squeeze on Kigali?

A few days after being arrested, DRC rebel leader Laurent Nkunda remains in detention in neighboring Rwanda, his former backers. Kinshasa wants him extradited but Kigali claims that there's no extradition treaty between the two countries. Despite the recent military cooperation between the two countries, it seems Rwanda is eager to find reasons NOT to hand over Nkunda to Congolese officials. One can only speculate that they are afraid what tales Nkunda might tell in open court if given the opportunity.

In an interview with Radio France Internationale, Belgian academic Philippe Reyntjens speculates that the Kagame regime's turning against Nkunda is related to last month's release of a damning UN report that, among other things, openly accused Rwanda of backing Nkunda's forces. Reyntjens pointed out that some donors had suspended aid to Kigali and that the country's biggest foreign backer, Britain, was threatening to follow suit.

I'm loathe to use the word 'victim' to describe Nkunda but it appears international pressure on Rwanda to remove him from the scene succeeded.

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