Rwanda has signed on to the UN’s Framework peace agreement for stabilizing central Africa. This means that Rwanda has agreed to the deployment of the UN’s Intervention Brigade. The brigade is a peacekeeping unit with an offensive mission. It is authorized to target and neutralize armed rebel groups and militias in the Congo. The armed group most often and most prominently mentioned as an Intervention Brigade target is M23, a Congolese rebel group with ties to ethnic Tutsis living in the Congo. The Rwandan government has long been accused of providing aid for M23. The Rwandan government denies the accusations and a recent UN investigation indicates that this support has declined considerably in the last few months. Before that, UN investigators documented a lot of support for M23 coming from sources within Rwanda. At the moment, Rwandan Tutsis politically dominate Rwanda. So why does Rwanda support the Framework and at least indirectly agree to deploying the Intervention Brigade? There are several obvious reasons. Money was one. Rwanda relies on donations and several major donor nations, including Great Britain, either withheld aid or threatened to withhold aid unless Rwanda agreed to the UN peace process. The Congo and M23 could reach a peace deal. The rebels and the Congolese government have representatives in Uganda. Though negotiations are fitful, you cannot rule out the possibility of a peaceful resolution to M23’s rebellion. However, Rwanda has repeatedly insisted that it will not compromise in its struggle with the extremist Hutus who orchestrated the 1994 genocide. The Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) continue to operate from bases in the eastern Congo. M23 is a thug outfit. The FDLR, however, is run by genocidal Hutu supremacists. Could the Intervention Brigade target the FDLR? In early June UN officials made some rather suggestive comments about the FDLR. The destruction of the FDLR could be Rwanda’s pay-off for good behavior. (Austin Bay)
June 30, 2013: UN investigators reported that Rwanda continues to provide limited support for the Congolese M23 rebel group. The UN acknowledged that the support M23 now receives from Rwandan sources is much less than it was in 2012. However, sympathetic Rwandans (including, allegedly, Rwandan military officers) provide low-level support. For example, the UN investigators said they have evidence that Rwandan officials let M23 recruit militiamen inside Rwanda. The UN said that M23 no longer receives support from Ugandan sources. The UN also looked into Rwandan allegations that the Congolese Army (FARDC) was collaborating with the Democratic Forces for the Liberation for Rwanda (FDLR) rebel group. The FDLR was founded by Hutu extremists who were directly involved in the 1994 genocide. UN monitors reported that there is evidence this occurred. The UN has asked the Congo government for more information
June 17, 2013: Burundi reported that the May 19 bus ambush was the first cross-border rebel attack since 2011. Members of the Burundi rebel National Liberation Forces (FNL) were responsible. This put the FNL back on the active list of rogue militia and rebel groups operating in the eastern Congo. That means the FNL could be a target of the UN’s new Congo Intervention Brigade.
June 11, 2013: Opposition political leaders in Burundi accused the ruling CNDD-FDD (National Council for the Defense of Democracy-Force for Defense of Democracy) of using its party youth wing (the Imbonerakure) as a militia. The opposition parties made these charges before the last election and other observers concluded the charges were legitimate. The Imbonerakure conducted “security patrols” while armed with machetes and rifles. The opposition parties claimed that the patrols were really intimidation operations.
June 5, 2013: The UN insists that nations involved in the Framework initiative for stabilizing central Africa must be prepared to fight the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) rebel group. The FDLR was founded by Rwandan Interahamwe Hutu extremists who organized and participated in the 1994 Rwandan genocide. The Tutsi-led Rwandan Patriotic Front invaded Rwanda from Uganda, stopped the genocide, and defeated the Interahamwe. Surviving Interahamwe fled into the eastern Congo. The Interahamwe were radical members of the Hutu tribe-dominated National Republican Movement for Democracy and Development (MRND), which ruled Rwanda from 1975 to 1994. Rwanda has claimed that the FDLR receives support from sources in the Congo. The UN statement follows a Rwandan government statement that it will not negotiate with the FDLR. The statement could indicate that the Intervention Brigade may include the FDLR on its list of targeted militias and rebel groups.
June 3, 2013: Rwanda, in response to a recent suggestion that it negotiate with the FDLR, said that it will never negotiate with individuals or groups who have promoted genocide. The official statement also employed the term “Genocide Ideology.” Basically, genocide ideology means people who promote Hutu tribal supremacy. What the government is saying is that it will not negotiate –ever-- with the FDLR .
June 1, 2013: A growing number of South Africans are not convinced their country should provide troops for the UN’s Intervention Brigade. The brigade is already deploying in the Congo’s troubled North Kivu province. Senior members of South Africa’s dominant political party, the African National Congress (ANC), have publicly mentioned that they are worried about foreign support for some of the rebel militias operating in the area. The South African politicians did not specifically mention Rwanda but Rwanda has been accused of providing the Congolese M23 rebel group with money, weapons, and training. A 2012 UN report provided documented evidence of support for M23 coming through Rwanda. This produced vehement official denials.
May 30, 2013: The Rwandan government and many Rwandans are upset that Tanzania has urged the Rwandan government to negotiate with the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) rebel group. The Tanzanian recommendation was made at a recent African Union meeting. The leadership of the FDLR includes Hutu extremists who helped organize the 1994 Rwandan genocide.
May 29, 2013: Burundi has started another campaign to try to get civilians with illegal small arms and explosives to turn the weapons in to the government. The last campaign (in 2009) was regarded as a success. Security agencies took control of 16,000 grenades, 160,000 rounds of ammo, 2,700 assorted rifles, and 5,000 explosive devices.
May 28, 2013: The UN honored all UN peacekeepers who have died while serving on peacekeeping missions. Five Rwandan soldiers were among those honored. Four were slain in Sudan’s western Darfur region while serving with the UNAMID operation. One was killed in Haiti while serving with the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH).
May 19, 2013: Two people were killed when 15 armed men ambushed a bus near Gatumba (outskirts of Burundi's capital, Bujumbura). Police believe the attackers were former National Liberation Forces (FNL) guerrilla fighters who had crossed the border from a camp in eastern Congo. Ten people were wounded in the attack. Survivors reported that some of the attackers sang a song associated with the FNL.