Fighting in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo is intensifying, with Ugandan and Burundian soldiers in pursuit of rebels and Congolese insurgents on the rebound. With help from its allies, Kinshasa should step up diplomacy lest the country become a regional battleground once more.
Relations with neighbouring countries remained tense. President Kagame 6 Sept said “there is still more to do” to improve relations with neighbouring Burundi and Uganda. Burundi govt mid-Sept set steep conditions for normalising relations with Kigali, including that Rwandan govt extradite suspected perpetrators of 2015 coup attempt against former Burundian President Nkurunziza and facilitate refugees’ returns. Meanwhile, group of 507 Burundian refugees in Rwanda 10 Sept returned home. After Rwandan Ambassador to DRC Vincent Karega in Aug denied Rwandan involvement in violence in eastern DRC during 1998-2003 war, around 100 Congolese civil society activists 4 Sept gathered in DRC capital Kinshasa calling for Karega’s expulsion; police dispersed them with tear gas, reportedly leaving two injured. Kagame 6 Sept accused demonstrators of “attacking the relationship of friendship and brotherhood between our two countries”, while DRC govt next day said Karega’s statement “is not likely to promote good relations between the DRC and Rwanda”. France’s top appeals court 30 Sept confirmed Rwandan genocide financier Félicien Kabuga will be handed over to UN tribunal in Arusha, Tanzania for trial.
Three Great Lakes states – Burundi, Rwanda and Uganda – are trading charges of subversion, each accusing another of sponsoring rebels based in the neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo. Outside powers should help the Congolese president resolve these tensions, lest a lethal multi-sided melee ensue.
One year ago, the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) was mired in trouble, under serious time constraint because of the firm date by which its work had to be finished.
While a transition government is scheduled to be installed in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) in June 2003, the program of the United Nations Mission in Congo (MONUC) for voluntary disarmament and demobilisation, repatriation, rehabilitation and reintegration (DDRRR, henceforth DR) of foreign armed groups has remained a failure.
Nine years after the 1994 genocide, Rwanda has reached another crossroads. The transition period defined by the Arusha Accords will be concluded in less than a year by a constitutional referendum and by multi-party elections which should symbolize the successful democratisation of the country.
There are just over five years left for the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) to complete the mission conferred upon it by the United Nations Security Council in November 1994. The Tribunal is halfway through its mandate, and in the past eighteen months, a number of new trials have begun.
Seeking the leadership of the Francophonie is clearly part of Rwanda's goal for a greater continental and global role.
It’s been essentially the Paul Kagame show [in Rwanda] for the last two decades, and not too many people see that changing.
President Tshisekedi’s plans for joint operations with DR Congo’s belligerent eastern neighbours against its rebels risks regional proxy warfare. In this excerpt from our Watch List 2020 for European policymakers, Crisis Group urges the EU to encourage diplomatic efforts in the region and Tshisekedi to shelve his plan for the joint operations.
Testimony by Mark L. Schneider, Senior Vice President, International Crisis Group to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, and Human Rights on “Examining the Role of Rwanda in the DRC Insurgency”.
Originally published in Le Soir
Originally published in The Africa Report