September 23, 2009:
Rwanda continues to modernize its military. Rwandan troops serving with the UN-AU peacekeeping force in Darfur (UNAMID) have gained valuable experience on that deployment. The government has also introduced a number of programs over the last three years to professionalize the military. The Rwandan Army has cross training programs with several countries, including Belgium. There, 53 Rwandan soldiers have completed training courses at Belgium's Royal Military Academy.
September 20, 2009: Has Burundi been successful in forwarding the peace process? When the last National Liberation Forces (FLN) splinter group, the FNL-Palipehutu agreed to join the peace process, many observers thought the fighting was finally over. Several senior FNL leaders got positions in the government and military as reintegration became the code word. In April 2009 the international committee guiding the peace process got an agreement with the government to place 3500 former FNL fighters in the Burundian Army. Now a number of critics aren't so sure. It is clear that the FNL-Palipehutu has not turned in all of its weapons. The big elections scheduled for 2010 may not be peaceful. Several hotheads have suggested they will return to violence if the elections don't produce the results they like. Fractures in Hutu political parties have appeared, and Hutus who joined the peace process before the FNL-Palipehutu do not like the new political competition. Some members of the FNL are still collecting taxes in the hinterland (which means they are robbing people). Former FNL fighters are also being recruited by Hutu militias fighting in the Democratic Republic of Congo. At one time these were rumors but the rumors have now been confirmed as the militiamen have talked to the foreign press. The lower-ranking rebel fighters say the senior leaders (in the FNL) have done okay, but that most rebels do not have jobs. Many received a disarmament and reintegration bonus of around $100, but not all. The fighter say Congolese militias (like the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda) offer them as much as $500 to join. That kind of money looks real good.
September 19, 2009: Several Burundian opposition political parties have demanded that the government pull its troops out of the AU Somali peacekeeping force (AMISOM). The demand came after 12 Burundian soldiers died in a terror bomb attack in Mogadishu. The Burundian peacekeeping contingent in Somalia is becoming an increasingly tough political issue for the government.
September 18, 2009: Twelve Burundian soldiers serving with the African Union (AU) peacekeeping mission in Somalia (AMISOM) were killed when two bomb-laden vehicles blew up in Mogadishu. The Somali Islamist organization Al Shabaab used two cars with United Nations insignia.
September 2, 2009: A US congressional delegation visiting Rwanda told the government that is was impressed with Rwanda's recovery from the 1994 genocide. The group also praised Rwanda's efforts at improving its health care system and education system.
August 31, 2009: Burundi announced that it had completed its latest disarmament and reintegration program. The government made the announcement in mid-August. Burundi has conducted several Disarmament, integration, and training programs. This one began in April 2009. All told, the government claims that 16,948 former fighters have passed through the disarmament and reintegration process.
August 21, 2009: Rwanda is waging political war on the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), the predominantly Hutu militia operating in the eastern Congo. The Rwandan government is calling for the prosecution of FDLR leaders and their international supporters. This could mean several things, but Rwanda has claimed that former FDLR leaders are in exile in Europe. The Rwandan government also wants the UN to enforce sanctions on the FDLR.