March 16, 2009: The Rwandan government is making what appears to be a serious attempt to curb corruption. Five senior officials have been fired and prosecuted recently, and dozens of lower ranking officials suffered the same fate. But, like the most of Africa, the corruption is pervasive, and a major drag on the economy. The corruption is the main reason African economies have declined in the last half century, while those everywhere else in the world have grown. The corruption is also the underlying cause of the many wars that still rage in Africa.
March 14, 2009: The Rwandan government now says discussions “are delayed” with the government of Congo concerning what to do with former Congolese rebel leader Laurent Nkunda. Rwanda says Congo asked for the delay. Congo has said it wants to extradite Nkunda and return him to the Congo for trial. Congo let Rwanda send troops into eastern Congo to fight Rwandan Hutu rebel militias. The quid pro quo was Rwanda’s arrest of Nkunda. Both nations deny this but at the time Rwanda and Congo said they had agreed that Nkunda needed to be arrested.
March 5, 2009: Is the Rwandan pullout from Congo really complete? Right now no one is sure but there is some evidence that a cadre of Rwandans remains in the Congo. It makes sense for the Rwandans to leave liaison officers and observers with Congolese forces.
March 4, 2009: The Burudian Hutu rebel group FNL (Forces for National Liberation-PALIPEHUTU) has demanded that the Burundian Army return a cache of weapons the army discovered and seized on March 3. The weapons cache was located just outside Burundi’s capital, Bujumbura. The FNL is now part of the “peace process”, which explains in part why the rebels have the brass to demand the military return their weapons. An FNL spokesman said that the cache would have been turned in as part of Burundi’s official Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration (DDR) process for former rebel fighters. The cache had 40 AK-47s, four submachine guns, and two 60 mm mortars – in First World military terms a platoon but in FNL terms a major unit (it had mortars for fire support). The cache also contained ammunition and explosives.
March 2, 2009: UN reports said that FDLR Rwandan Hutu rebels who “scattered” when Rwandan forces attacked them in eastern Congo have returned to several Congolese villages as the Rwandan Army withdraws. The Congo government disagreed with the UN assessment, claiming that the FDLR contingents were conducting small raids (and accused them of “looting”) but were not retaking villages. This is not the news from UN observers the Rwandan military wants to hear. However, the Rwandan government appears to be satisfied with the joint operation with Congolese forces. The Rwandan military believes it hit the FDLR hard – the official statement says the FDLR wasn’t destroyed but its “operational capacities” were reduced. No one is quite sure, but an estimated 5,000 Rwandan Hutus were “repatriated” to Rwanda. Many of these people were not FDLR fighters but were family or displaced persons. The Rwandan military claims it killed 153 FDLR fighters in the offensive. The Congo-Rwanda alliance claims it lost eight soldiers. Moreover, it sent the clear message that it is prepared to strike them again, with the Congolese government as an ally.
February 27, 2009: Rwandan military forces in the Congo completed their withdrawal from the Congo. The withdrawal began on February 25. The operation (called “Unoja Vetu”, which is Swahili for “Our Unity”) began on January 20.
February 22, 2009: Eleven Burundian troops serving with African Union peacekeeping forces in Somali died in an attack by suicide bombers sent by the Islamist extremist organization, al-Shabaab. The Burundi contingent was in Somalia’s capital, Mogadishu.