Congo: Just Keep Pushing at the Borders

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Democratic Republic of the Congo (formerly Zaire)


December 3, 2005: The UN believes that approximately 12,000 to 15,000 armed militiamen remain in the eastern Congo. From 10,000 to 12,000 of the militiamen are believed to be Hutu rebels from Rwanda. Another 1500 may be Ugandan rebels from various organizations and rebel factions. Over the last two years, the UN's military operations have attempted to protect vulnerable civilians and disarm the rebels. The UN forces conduct offensive military operations, often with the goal of arresting senior rebel leaders. The UN has a diplomatic-political strategy to support these goals, and returning Hutu rebels to Rwanda is part of it. The UN claims that so far 12,000 "foreign militia members" have been sent back to their home countries (primarily Rwanda and Uganda, a few may have gone back to Burundi). The UN estimates that "two-thirds" of the returnees have gone to Rwanda and --yes-- the UN administrators believe that "many" of those who went back to Rwanda were either Hutu rebels or former Rwandan Army troops who were involved in the 1994 genocide. The UN "repatriation program" has been a voluntary program. But the program looks like it may become far-less "voluntary." UN officials are openly discussing (which is one way diplomats deliver threats) economic sanctions, legal pressure, and military options that will encourage rogue militias to leave the Congo and encourage "regional governments" (like Uganda and Rwanda) to accept them. Uganda and Rwanda would then assume some of the burden of disarming the militias. Of course, many militiamen know that returning to Rwanda means facing criminal trials. The militia leaders also know that abandoning their Congo base camps will weaken their forces, and in some cases shatter them. However, if the militiamen stay inside the Congo and refuse to disarm they risk attack by the UNs Pakistani, Bangladeshi, and South African peacekeepers. The threat of sanctions may nudge Ugandan and Rwandan government officials to negotiate with their various rebel organizations. Rebel leaders guilty of genocide won't get any deals, but some of their fighters might. That would reduce the number of troublemakers prowling the eastern Congo-- and diplomacy would reinforce military action. --Austin Bay

November 30, 2005: The parliament approved a law granting amnesty to those who killed and injured people during 1998-2002 civil war. For those who continued to fight after 2002, troops and police are being used to deal with them.

November 28, 2005: Near the Ugandan border, Ugandan LRA rebels have been making vicious attacks on Congolese villages, causing several thousand villagers to flee their homes.

 

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