Congo: Rwanda Retreats, Peace Follows

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: Democratic Republic of the Congo (formerly Zaire)

February 27, 2009: Rwandan soldiers continue to withdraw from eastern Congo, with Rwandan Army truck convoys moving across the border from Congo into Rwanda. A substantial number of Rwandan troops have crossed on foot as well. Some 1500 Rwandan soldiers moved by foot from North Kivu province through the town of Goma and into Rwanda. Will any Rwandan soldiers remain? An unknown number of Rwandan soldiers are still in the Congo. Given the new alliance between Rwanda and Congo, it is likely some will remains as an observer force. Or a liaison detachment. Or...the diplomats can be creative. In any event, most of the groups involved with the eastern Congo violence are worn down and worn out. Peace deals are easier to craft and implement under those conditions.

February 25, 2009: The Rwandan government announced that its troops had begun to withdraw from the Congo. Though the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR, a Rwandan Hutu militia) still exists.  Congo claimed that the FDLR had been severely damaged, and that 153 Hutu militiamen were killed in Operation Umoja Wetu and 37 captured. Several hundred people have been “returned to Rwanda” (repatriated). These people may be abductees, family members, or “camp followers” of the militia. However, FDLR Major- General Sylvester Mudacumura, the senior commander of the FDLR's "military wing," the Forces Combatants Abacunguzi (FOCA), has not been captured. Still, the government asserts that the Congo-Rwanda joint force has accomplished "95 percent of its mission."

February 24, 2009: The government said it had reached a "preliminary agreement" (as in political agreement) with the current leaders of the National Congress for Defense of the People (CNDP). Laurent Nkunda had been the senior leader and military commander of the CNDP (and chief obstacle to peace), until Rwandan forces arrested him in January.

February 19, 2009: The UN estimates that the FDLR have killed at least 100 Congolese civilians since they began retreating in the face of a combined Congo-Rwanda offensive in late January. UN peacekeepers reported that FDLR militiamen "razed villages."

 

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