Democratic Republic of the Congo (formerly Zaire)
2008: Are the allegations of cross-border incursions by allies of Laurent
Nkunda true? The government claims Nkunda is receiving aid from Rwanda, or at
least from Rwandans. What this means is the government believes Nkunda and his
predominantly-Tutsi militia are getting help from fellow Tutsis in Rwanda. And
that is very likely. At least one faction in the government claims the Rwandan
government wants to absorb Congo's North Kivu province and that Nkunda is a
"front man" for Rwanda. That would create a lot of problems for Rwanda. But what
the Rwandan Tutsis do want is the destruction of the FDLR (Democratic Forces for
the Liberation of Rwanda), the Rwandan Hutu militia operating in Congo.
European nations have expressed a willingness to send troops to the Eastern
Congo, for the express purpose of putting the hurt on Nkunda's force of poorly
trained and armed gunmen. Nkundas forces are, however, superior to the motley force
that passes for the Congolese Army. The UN peacekeeping force is stretched thin
with the collapse of so many Congolese army units, and doesn't really want to
get involved fighting Nkunda's forces.
2008: The government now faces several tough choices in North Kivu province.
The eastern half of the Congo ignited into war when the former dictator Mobutu
Sese Seko fell in 1997. When a series of peace agreements ended the Great Congo
War in 2003 the fighting didn't stop in the east. Trouble continued along the
Uganda border and North and South Kivu provinces remained in turmoil.
choice is how to deal with General Laurent Nkunda and his National Congress for
the Defense of the People (CNDP) militia force. Nkunda's offensive in North
Kivu has been very successful at the operational level. Nkunda began with a
series of skirmishes on August 28, followed by several local attacks that
continued through September and early October. Nkunda has now moved his forces
to the edge of the city of Goma (on the Rwanda border) and declared "a
unilateral ceasefire" (on October 29).
now in the process of trying to turn the operational success into a strategic
political success. UN observers and Congolese sources reported that Nkunda has
made a deft political move and is requesting a "neutral mediator" to facilitate
negotiations between his forces and the Congo government. He is already playing
to Congolese political uncertainties by demanding a renegotiation of the
"infrastructure for mineral resources" agreement between China and Congo. Many
Congolese fear that agreement is a new form of imperialism.
make a lot of sense, at least from Nkunda's and the UN peacekeepers' points of
view. The UN has peacekeeping forces in Goma, backed by armored vehicles.
Nkunda does not want to tangle with international forces. Nkunda has also made
his statement about the Congolese Army it has fled as his militia advanced
(though there are Congolese forces still in Goma, according to several
sources). The UN peacekeepers, however, are in a difficult position. They are having to manage several refugee camps, protect
refugees who have left their homes and cannot get to camps, and also watch
Nkunda. The UN forces have air support and air supply links, and the UN armor
can open roads.. A UN truck convoy arrived in Goma on October 31 with food,
demonstrating that Nkunda does not have Goma surrounded, though there are press
reports that Nkunda has Goma "encircled." Feeding the refugees is a huge logistical
problem . It's also a problem Nkunda does not want to take on.
2008: The UN said that the ceasefire declared by Laurent Nkunda's forces in the
area around Goma should continue. Otherwise "humanitarian problems" (ie,
assisting refugees) would increase and a "humanitarian catastrophe" would
2008: Rebel leader Laurent Nkunda
demanded "direct talks" with the government in Kinshasha. By direct talks he
means "talks between equals." Nkunda is
in the process of expanding his war on Kinshasha, from that of a Tutsi
tribe-based action to a general rebellion against the Kabila government.
reported that "several" Congolese Army troops killed nine people and robbed
businesses and homes in Goma. No doubt these are soldiers from the Congolese
Army units that ran from Nkunda's forces. This is a sign of a completely broken
military. This follows other stories that Congolese troops stole vehicles from
civilians in order to flee Nkunda's advance.
2008: General Laurent Nkunda's militia
forces reached the outskirts of Goma (North Kivu province). A brief artillery
bombardment (likely mortars and rockets) was reported to have hit part of Goma
in the early morning hours. Goma is the capital of North Kivu. It is also the
center of Congo's tin-mining and exporting industry.
Security Council condemned the attack on Goma by General Laurent Nkunda and his
The UN said
its peacekeeping forces in Congo are now "stretched to the limit." The chief of MONUC said that a "temporary
troop increase" was needed. The Congo government also requested peacekeeping
reinforcements. Making the request is one thing, deploying troops is something
else. The UN's capacity to surge forces is virtually non-existent. France and
Great Britain could provide a "mini-surge" by sending paratroop and light
infantry units. Who would insure their supply? It would take the United States
Air Force and its C-17s to support a "mini-surge."
government and a Congolese Army spokesman said that Rwanda soldiers had crossed
the border into Congo. The Rwandan government immediately denied the
accusation. The government reportedly asked Angola for help to "defend the
territorial integrity" of Congo.
2008 CNDP militia fighters advanced to
the town of Kibumba, 25 kilometers north of Goma.
government accused Congolese government soldiers of firing unguided rockets
rockets into Rwanda territory. The Rwandan government said that its diplomats
were in communication with the Congolese government about the incident.
Meanwhile, the Congolese government accused the Rwandan government of sending
troops into North Kivu. The UN said that there was no evidence (at the moment)
to support to the Congolese charge.
2008: General Laurent Nkunda's CNDP militia reportedly defeated Congolese Army
forces in the town of Rutshuru (70 kilometers north of Goma). Another major
firefight occurred in the town of Kiwanja.
2008: The UN accused CNDP militia fighters fired "several rockets" at two UN
armored cars. "Several" peacekeepers were wounded in the attack. A CNDP
spokesman denied the charge.
took control of a Congolese Army base at Rumangabo (north of Goma). The
Congolese Army reportedly counter-attacked with tanks and artillery but the
CNDP stopped the counter-attack.
commanding officer, Lieutenant-General Vicente Diaz, has resigned from the UN
mission. Diaz said his resignation was due to "personal reasons."
A group of
CNDP fighters took control of the headquarters of Virunga National Park (north