Congo: Military Cooperation Closes Borders to Rebels


: Democratic Republic of the Congo (formerly Zaire)

April 21, 2007: The government will no longer allow Uganda to send troops across the border, into Congo, to seek out LRA rebels hiding there. Instead, Congo will send sufficient troops to the area to eliminate the LRA (which is acting like bandits, and causing much fear and panic among local civilians.) Military leaders from Congo, Burundi, Rwanda and Uganda agreed to coordinate their operations against rebel groups, like the LRA, that cross borders to escape arrest. This sort of cooperation will make it much more difficult for rebel groups to survive. Being able to "escape across the border" has long been the ultimate get-out-of-jail-free card. April 18, 2007: Congo, Rwanda, and Burundi have reactivated their "Great Lakes Countries Economic Community" (usually identified as the CEPGL, its French acronym). The organization was created in 1976 as a trading group but became moribund in 1994 as Congo, Rwanda, and Burundi all spun into civil wars. The organization says it intends to focus on economic development. However, there is also a security dimension. The countries intend to coordinate "military strategy against rebels." This might evolve into a joint operations center to coordinate operations against rebels in the Congo-Burundi-Rwanda border areas.

April 17, 2007: The army killed eight Rwandan Hutu rebels in an operation in the east (South Kivu province). The Rwandan rebels belonged to the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR).

April 14, 2007: The Movement for the Liberation of Congo (MLC, Congo's largest opposition party) is suspending participation in the Congolese parliament. The MLC parliamentarians fear for their security. Congo's President Joseph Kabila is attempting to crush the opposition. With opposition leader Bemba out of the country the MLC is demoralized.

April 11, 2007: Congolese opposition leader Jean-Pierre Bemba left the Congo for exile in Portugal. Bemba left after a decision on April 10 to prosecute Bemba for inciting violence that led to the death of 600 in fighting in late March. "Exile" isn't the official word for Bemba's departure. He had been staying in the South African embassy. The official story is that Bemba is seeking medical aid in Portugal. The prosecutor's charges are specious.




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