Wednesday, August 18, 2004

Another Great Lakes War

Crossposted to Cliopatria

A new war in Central Africa may break out.

On August 13, a group of Hutu rebels attacked a refugee camp in Burundi, killing 160 Banyamulenge refugees (Congolese of Rwandan and Burundi descent, most of whom have been identified as Tutsi) at the Gutamba Refugee Camp. It is believed that the rebels came from Democratic Republic of Congo.

The presence of Hutu rebels–genocidaires responsible for the 1994 Rwandan Genocide–and the support that they have received from Kinshasa for almost a decade has been a major concern for Rwanda and Burundi. The genocidaires continued to attack Tutsi in the two Kivu provinces and in Ituri, and they transmitted their racial hatred to other Congolese groups. (This report describes the regional connections between the Kivus, Rwanda and Burundi). Twice Rwanda and Burundi invaded Zaire/Congo in order to protect ethnic Tutsi.

There have been only brief intermissions in violence in eastern Congo since the ceasefire. Violence continued at the lower levels, below what the states considered the legitimate subjects for diplomacy. Nevertheless, they have been carried out by armed militia groups, some composed of demobilized soldiers. Stephan van Praet of Human Rights Watch says that the peace talks don't address the issue of justice at low levels, thus perpetuating the "cycle of impunity."

Diplomats from the two small Great Lakes nations have lost all their fair in the ongoing negotiations with Kinshasa.
"The process has broken down and we need to repair this break down," Azarius Ruberwa, the head of RCD and one of Congo's four vice presidents, told United Nations radio.

"We need to stop, re-read the (peace) agreement and the conclusions of the negotiations because it is incomprehensible that, during a peace process, genocide of Congolese people takes place abroad," he said.
Furthermore, politicians from both Rwanda and Burundi have suggested that they are thinking of another war:
"I have not ruled out an offensive against the DRC aimed at making them respect our country's borders," General Germain Niyoyankana told reporters.
Laurent Nkunda, a renegade Congolese commander, has also made threats:
"I am not attacking now ... I will be here in Goma mourning for a few days. By then hopefully the people of good faith will have taken the appropriate decisions ... This won't happen again."
The previous fighting was significant because it expanded to include states beyond those on the Great Lakes, most notably Angola and Zimbabwe, as the different states started to fight for mineral interests in the Kivus.


Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home