Congo: Rwanda Back in the Game

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: Democratic Republic of the Congo (formerly Zaire)

September 10, 2007: Congo and Angola have agreed to another bi-lateral security training program. Angola will provide Congolese police with "advanced training" on border security.

Meanwhile, Congo and the UN have accused Rwanda of supplying rebel general Laurent Nkunda with weapons and ammunition. Rwanda denies the accusation, but UN peacekeepers have reported that Nkunda definitely has supply lines running toward the Rwandan border. The town of Goma, which has been in the center of recent fighting in the area, is located on the Congo-Rwanda border. Rwanda wants the Rwandan Hutu rebels in Congo wiped out, and guys like Nkunda (who is a Tutsi, and Tutsi run Rwanda) appear the only ones willing to do it. The The Hutu are the majority in Rwanda, and want to wipe out the Tutsi.

September 8, 2007: The recent fighting between the Congolese Army and militias loyal to General Laurent Nkunda has imperiled mountain gorillas living in the Virunga National Park wildlife preserve. Congolese park rangers have been caught in the crossfire and have had to flee the park to escape the fighting. When the rangers are gone, the gorillas are vulnerable to poaching. The gorillas can also killed in the fighting, just like human civilians in a war zone. The fighting in North Kivu is taking a terrible toll on humans, too. Some 200,000 people have been displaced in North Kivu since late 2006 - that's an increase of about 40,000 since mid-July 2007. There are not enough emergency food rations in the area to feed the additional refugees.

September 7, 2007: Rebel general Laurent Nkunda accused the Congolese Army of launching a series of attacks on his forces and "breaking the ceasefire" negotiated by the UN between Nkunda and the Congolese government. Nkunda said Congo Army troops attacked his militia positions outside the town of Rutshuru (north of Goma) in North Kivu province. The ceasefire went into effect on September 6. There may be a misunderstanding about the ceasefire. The UN believes ceasefire was only for the area around the town of Sake. Nkunda had a large group of Congolese Tutsi militiamen in the town of Sake, twenty kilometers from Goma.

September 6, 2007: The UN negotiated a ceasefire between militias loyal to rebel general Laurent Nkunda and Congolese Army forces in North Kivu. However, the Congolese Army commander in the region did not confirm the ceasefire. Reports from North Kivu described "confused fighting" throughout the area, but particularly in the corridor between Goma and Rutshuru. The truth is, Congolese and militia commanders exert little control over fighters who are outside their immediate area. While they do communicate with cell phones and some radios, couriers (on foot or in vehicles) are frequently the only way to contact their forces. Then there is the problem of the local commander agreeing to follow the orders.

The US government said that it was encouraging a meeting of the "Tripartite-plus" group (Uganda, Congo, Rwanda, and Burundi) to help "reduce tensions" in the region. The Congo and Rwanda are at odds over Congolese allegations that Rwanda is supporting rebel militias in the eastern Congo. The series of armed clashes between the Congo and Uganda (July 29 through August 9) is even higher on the US diplomatic, in part because the US State Department thinks it can help solve that problem. Those fights occurred in the Lake Albert region.

 

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