Congo: Border Wars and the Search for Oil

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: Democratic Republic of the Congo (formerly Zaire)

September 18, 2007: Rebel general Laurent Nkunda continues to operate with relative freedom in the Congo's North Kivu province. The original deal between Nkunda and the Congolese government has failed completely. Nkunda's "mixed brigades" were supposed to operate as part of the Congolese Army (with integration into the Congolese Army the ultimate goal). Nkunda's predominantly Congolese Tutsi militia was to fight Rwandan Hutu militiamen who were based in the eastern Congo. Many of the militiamen were involved in the 1994 Rwandan genocide. However, Nkunda's troops began conducting what amounted to a "scorched earth" operation against villages in North Kivu. At the end of August and in early September the Congolese Army and Nkunda's militias fought a series of battles near the town of Sake. The UN managed to negotiate a ceasefire in the area. However, refugees continue to flee the zone Nkunda controls. Though the Congolese government has appealed to Nkunda to end the fighting, it appears the Nkunda has successfully established himself as a "border region warlord." Removing him looks increasingly like a job for UN peacekeepers.

September 16, 2007: MONUC (UN Mission in the Congo) is once again prepared to fight Ugandan rebel groups (the LRA) in the eastern Congo. Though peace talks between the Ugandan government and the LRA continue, Uganda has complained to the Congolese government that armed LRA factions continue to move in and out of the Congo's Garamba National Park (northeastern Congo).

September 14, 2007: UN officials found three mass graves in the eastern Congo, near the town of Goma.

September 11, 2007: Congolese and Ugandan leaders (Museveni and Kabila) , in a meeting held on September 6-7 discussed oil exploration on Lake Albert and marking the border around Rukwanzi Island. Uganda complained about three Ugandan rebel groups that are still operating from bases in the Congo: Allied Democratic Front (ADF), People's Redemption Army (PRA) and the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA). Congo claimed that rebel Congolese militias are recruiting militiamen from refugee camps in Uganda. The rebel groups are a huge problem for both countries. Congo and Uganda also need to resolve the oil exploration disagreement. Oil pumped from the eastern Congo would logically go by pipeline through Uganda to an Indian Ocean port.

 

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