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Strong Reservations about Eastern Congo

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Strong Reservations about Eastern Congo

Posted by Colin Thomas-Jensen on January 30, 2009

In a recent article, some Congo analysts I respect are echoing the concerns we expressed here regarding the potential for the situation in Congo to deteriorate even further as the Rwandan and Congolese armies launch a ‘15-day’ military operation against the FDLR in eastern Congo.

According to Guillaume Lacaille of the International Crisis Group:

“The more Rwanda stays in the DRC, the higher the risk of political instability in North Kivu and if a military operation against the FDLR is launched quickly, without more preparation to protect the population, there will be high civilian casualties.”

Gerard Prunier, a long-time observer of the crises in Central Africa (and the author of an insightful new book on the region), shares our doubt that going after the FDLR isn’t the only reason why the Rwandans are back on Congolese soil:

"I don’t think the [Rwandan army] is in Kivu just to cleanse the earth of the FDLR," he said. "The point is to control the mines which the FDLR now controls and to share the proceeds with the Kinshasa administration rather than with the Hutu genocidaires."

And Prunier also notes the political hazards this turn of events poses for Congolese President Laurent Kabila:

"Problems are already piling up. And the main problem comes from […] the fact that Kabila did not consult with his constituency before allowing [in] the Rwandese army. This is a grievous mistake. The people in the east are his voters and calling in the [Rwandan army] is not exactly what they wished for when they elected him."