Rwanda: The Kids Are Not All Right


April 23, 2010: As the national elections near, the tension in Burundi is increasing. NGOs that were pro-Hutu rebel are describing demobilized rebel groups (many from the National Liberations Forces, FLN) as being uncontrolled. Several political parties have established youth wings that last year peace activists claimed were really the beginning of party militias. It appears that worry was justified, as reports indicate some of the youth wings are now collecting weapons. The CNDD-FDD ( National Council for the Defense of Democracy-Forces for the Defense of Democracy) and the FRODEBU (Front for Democracy in Burund) parties both have youth organizations that are frequently rallying in the streets. The CNDD-FDD is the main government party. City elections will take place in May. The presidential election is scheduled for late June.

April 20, 2010: 300 former National Liberation Force (FNL) fighters confronted police in Burundi's capital. The demonstration turned violent when the protestors began throwing stones at police and passing vehicles. Police reported they arrested eight protestors.

The Rwandan government arrested to senior army officers on charges of corruption and immoral conduct. The arrests came after the government a shake-up in the command of the Rwandan Army. Rwandan media reported that many soldiers resent a recent pay raise for the army's Presidential Brigade (an elite unit). Other military salaries were not increased.

April 10, 2010: Despite a Congolese refugee repatriation agreement signed in February by the UN, Congo, and Rwanda, several tens of thousands of refugees remain in Rwanda. Rwanda wants the refugees to return but Congo's North Kivu province remains dangerous.

March 31, 2010: The Rwandan government said that it supports The East African Railways project. For years Rwanda and Burundi have hoped that improved rail connections would serve as an economic boost and allow them to increase exports. Tanzania has been involved in the project since its port of Dar es Salaam would be the terminus. War and chaos, however, prevented the countries from pursuing the upgrade project, which includes laying standard gauge track and laying lines to support electrical powered locomotives. At the moment it takes about six days to ship a large cargo by rail from Dar es Salaam to the Rwandan capital of Kigali. The upgraded railway and new rail equipment would reduce the travel time significantly, to as little as eight to ten hours. Rwandan businesspeople have argued that the new railway will be the region's best anti-poverty program.

March 26, 2010: Rwanda's supreme court said that it was not the proper forum to hear a plea for release from arrest by former General Laurent Nkunda. He has been under arrest in Rwanda since January 2009 when Rwandan troops arrested him inside the Congo. The civilian court said he should be tried in a military court.

March 23, 2010: Burundi's security forces, especially the army, are fragile. The arrest of 18 soldiers in January on charges of plotting a coup has shaken the Burundian Army. The accused soldiers will be tried and the government is concerned that the trial may lead to further fractionalization in the military. Burundi has around 28,000 personnel in its army and a police force of 18,000.

March 14, 2010: The CNDD-FDD chose former Hutu rebel leader Leonard Nyangoma as its presidential candidate in the June election. Nyangoma is a bitter opponent of the current president, Pierre Nkurunziza, who is also a Hutu.

March 2, 2010: Police in France arrested Agathe Habyarimana. The Rwandan government has accused her of playing a key role in planning the 1994 Tutsi genocide in Rwanda. She is the widow of Juvenal Habyarimana, who was president of Rwanda in 1994. He died when his plane was shot down in April 1994. The genocide followed his assassination. Agathe Habyarimana has been living in a suburb of Paris for over a decade. She initially went into exile in Gabon and Kenya. Her arrest by France is regarded as a sign of improving relations between Rwanda and France. Rwanda had repeatedly requested her arrest and extradition. Rwanda and France broke relations in 2006 when a French court accused Rwandan President Paul Kagame of shooting down President Habyarimana's plane in 1994. Rwanda accused France of providing training for the Hutu militias that conducted the genocide. France and Rwanda restored relations in November 2009. French President Nicolas Sarkozy visited Rwanda in February 2010. During his visit he said that France had made several mistakes in judgment about the 1994 genocide.





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