Rwanda: Cell Phones For Guns

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November 10, 2009: Infighting among Burundian Hutu leaders associated with the old National Liberation Forces (FNL) has split the Hutu political movement. The FNL is now a political party. Recently the ousted FNL leader Agathom Rwasa. Rwasa warned the government that splits inside the FNL could lead to violence during next year's election. Rwasa currently serves in the coalition government.

November 6, 2009: Rwanda has been a stalwart contributor to peacekeeping operations in Africa. Recently a Rwanda contingent (a reinforced company) returned from a year's duty in Darfur with the AU-UN “hybrid” UNAMID peacekeeping force. The contingent was part of Rwanda's 9th Battalion which is deployed in Darfur. The battalion has around 800 troops. 3200 Rwandan troops (four battalions) are serving with UNAMID.

November 4, 2009: Burundi conducted a ten-day long “weapons turn-in” program. The government has been concerned about the ready availability of weapons and ammunition among former guerrilla fighters. The “national disarmament commission” (as it is called) has come up with a trade-in deal. Citizens who turn in weapons and ammunition can receive mobile phones (a very popular item), farm tools, and construction materials. The recent ten-day drive was regarded as a success. People turned in 2,482 rifles, 789,000 rounds of ammunition, 10, 429 grenades, and 28 mines. “Other explosive devices” were also turned in (presumably home-made bombs, but you take a guess). The government has also passed a law restricting possession of fire arms.

October 23, 2009: A senior Al Shabaab spokesman (Somalia Islamist group) threatened to launch suicide bomber attacks on Uganda and Burundi. The spokesman threatened to bomb targets in Kampala (Uganda's capital) and in Bujumbura (Burundi's capital). Both Uganda and Burundi have troop contingents serving with African Union peacekeeping forces in Somalia, and there have been frequent battles between these peacekeepers and local Islamic radicals. The peacekeepers tend to win all these battles.

October 19, 2009: A document allegedly written by Congolese Tutsi leader (and former general) Laurent Nkunda is making the rounds in east and central Africa. Nkunda is now under arrest by the Rwandan government. He was arrested in January 2009 by Rwandan troops inside the Congo as Congolese and Rwandan forces began a joint attack on the FDLR. The chief points made in the alleged Nkunda “manifesto” is that he sees himself as leading an “ethnic Tutsi” insurgency and that current national borders need to be changed. Nkunda also claims that he was not a “proxy” warlord for Rwanda and never received arms and ammunition from Rwanda.

October 13, 2009: Congo and Burundi said they have completed negotiations designed to facilitate the return of 2,500 Congolese citizens from Burundi to the Congo. The refugees fled fighting in Congo's South Kivu province in 2004. This marks a change in the Congo government's approach, which had initially refused to accept them. Burundi regards some of the refugees as potential security problems. The refugees recently rioted to protest what they see as the lack of concern by both governments. Burundian police had to break up the protest.

September 28, 2009: An unidentified attacker threw a grenade into the market in the town of Karamba, Rwanda. Four people were killed and 47 wounded. The attacker fled on a motorcycle.

 

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