Rwanda: The Secret Killers


December 4, 2011: Burundi’s internal political situation continues to deteriorate. There is growing evidence that the government is using death squads (operated by the police and party militias) to go after members of opposition political parties. Now the charge is more explicit: that government’s extra-judicial killers are systematically killing former National Liberation Forces (FNL) guerrillas. One group claims 300 people have been murdered and that the former rebel fighters who have been slain had demobilized (i.e., met the peace accord criteria). However, there have been numerous violent attacks by factions claiming to be associated with the FNL. The government claims that many former FNL fighters have returned to the jungle with the intention to start a new civil war. (See report of October 15.)

December 2, 2011: Burundi was declared completely free of landmines. This comes after seven years of vigorous mine clearing effort, and three years ahead of schedule.

November 29, 2011: South Africa, after indicating otherwise, refused a request from Rwanda to extradite former Rwandan general Faustin Kayumba Nyamwasa. The Rwandan government has accused Nyamwasa of being involved in several terror attacks (specifically grenade attacks) in Rwanda in 2010. He is also accused of letting his soldiers kill several hundred Hutu civilian refugees in the Congo. Nyamwasa denies the allegations and says Rwandan president Paul Kagame is lying. Nyamwasa wants refugee or asylum status in South Africa. Some opposition members believe Nyamwasa is a potential rival of Kagame.

November 22, 2011: The Burundian government claimed that police and army units killed 18 bandits (term used) in a raid in the Cankuzo area (eastern Burundi). The police and military operation was part of an increased security presence after a bandit group (described in some reports as a rebel group) attacked a bar in a town near Bujumbura and killed 36 people execution-style.

November 15, 2011: Rwanda confirmed that it will deploy five helicopters to Sudan’s Darfur region in the first months of 2012. The UNAMID African Union-UN peacekeeping force has been desperately short of helicopters ever since it deployed. Rwanda began a special training program this year to prepare what amounts to a helicopter transport company for deployment. The unit has 140 personnel (pilots, maintenance techs, logistics support).

November 7, 2011: Rwanda is urging its neighbors to cooperate in regional security training exercises. Rwanda has sponsored a series of East African command post exercises. Who are the enemies Rwanda identified as regional threats? Uganda’s Lord's Resistance Army, Somalia’s Al Shabaab Islamic terrorist group, and Rwanda’s own Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) Hutu militia group received prominent mention. The exercises are a good idea, but the initiative also has a diplomatic aim. Many sub-Saharan African governments have often looked the other way (and sometimes assisted) when rebel organizations threatening neighboring countries have established bases in their territory. Rwanda wants to end that game.

October 31, 2011: Where is General Laurent Nkunda? The Rwandan government says he is still in Rwanda and in jail. However, Rwanda and Congo are undergoing yet another diplomatic reconciliation. The Congolese government says it still wants to try him for war crimes. Rwandan media indicate the government may return Nkunda to the Congo. Nkunda led the National Congress for Defense of the People (CNDP) rebel group in the Congo. It was regarded as a Congolese Tutsi militia.

October 15, 2011: Opposition parties in Burundi continue to accuse the government of permitting a secret campaign to kill their party members. They point to a human rights report of September 2011 that alleges 125 opposition party members were slain in Burundi during the summer. The government rejects the accusations. Who is committing the murders? That’s tough to say. The major political parties have their own militias. Some of the militia groups operate with very little control. They are essentially gangs.


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