Rwanda: Uneasy Riders

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February 23, 2010:  In Rwanda, police have, over the last few days, arrested those believed responsible for the three recent hand grenade attacks. The suspects are Hutus, belonging to exiled anti-Tutsi groups based in Congo.

February 21, 2010: Burundian government officials are once again expressing concerns about potential violence prior to national elections. Actually, a series of elections are scheduled in the summer and the fall of 2010. Opponents claim the government is overstating the situation so it can clamp down on them, but NGOs operating in Burundi appear to agree that the peace process remains very fragile. Several political parties are organizing what they call youth wings (youth movements). Youth wing activities include physical training. If this looks like the initial stages of building a party militia, well, it very likely is.

February 20, 2010: A series of grenade attacks in the Rwandan capital of Kigali killed one person and wounded approximately 30. Authorities reported three different grenade attacks, beginning late on the evening of February 19. The government has been attributing past grenade attacks to crime or personal motives – preferring that interpretation to terrorist or tribal political motives. Rwanda has new elections scheduled for August 2010. Waves of violence preceding elections is nothing new-- violent intimidation by the ruling party and opposition parties is all too common in the region. Government opponents have been targeted in past grenade attacks. One thing the government says is true: there are a lot of weapons and explosives left over from the civil war and the other wars in central Africa. Grenades are easy to acquire.

February 13, 2010: Burundi's defense ministry (National Defense Force) announced that it remains committed to the African Union Peacekeeping Mission in Somalia (AMISOM). Radical Somali Islamists have made threats against nations who have peacekeeping forces in Somalia. Uganda and Burundi have large troop contingents in Somalia. Burundi has approximately 2,500 soldiers in Somalia (organized in three battalion task forces). The Burundian Army has around 28,000 soldiers.

February 5, 2010: The Burundian government said that it is proceeding with courts martial against 33 Burundian soldiers accused of refusing to obey orders. The soldiers were in Somalia and were protesting pay problems. They said they had not been paid their monthly salaries and that they were due food ration supplement pay. The soldiers protests occurred in January 2009.

January 30, 2010: The Burundian government has arrested 16 soldiers and charged them with plotting to destabilize Burundi. That means plotting to overthrow the government. The government accused the soldiers of plotting a military mutiny that would ultimately involve troops at several military posts throughout the country. Several of the soldiers arrested are assigned to a commando unit which is based in the capital, Bujumbura.

 

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