You might have been paying attention to other things on January 20, but major developments unfolded in the Great Lakes region of Africa that morning as 3,000 Rwandan troops crossed into North Kivu, Congo, as part of a joint operation with the Congolese army to take on the FDLR, the Rwandan-affiliated Hutu militia. Although Enough has been pressing for international action to remove the FDLR from eastern Congo for quite a while, several aspects of this operation make us uneasy:
- Bosco “The Terminator” Ntaganda, indicted by the International Criminal Court, and his dissident rebel faction are collaborating with the Rwandan and Congolese armed forces in a move against the FDLR. Involving a suspected war criminal in an international military operation is a really bad idea.
- Although Congolese President Joseph Kabila appears to have invited the Rwandans into the Kivus, ordinary Congolese people have a fairly strong antipathy to foreign armed forces, particularly since Rwanda’s four-year occupation of eastern Congo from 1998 to 2002.
But most worrisome in terms of civilian protection, the United Nations doesn’t seem to be involved whatsoever in planning this operation, despite recent augmentations to the mandate of MONUC, the peacekeeping force for Congo. Worse, recent reports have the Congolese army blocking access by UN peacekeepers and aid workers to areas north of Goma.
Stay tuned for much more on this from the Enough Project as it unfolds.