Risk Intel Report

New Congolese rebels cause worry

On July 23, 2005, former US President Bill Clinton visited the Rwandan genocide memorial (see photo, courtesy of US Holocaust Memorial Museum) in Kigali and publicly stated “I express regret for my personal failure” to prevent or mitigate the slaughter of some 800,000 people over a few short months in 1994 . The same sentiment has been expressed by leadership around the world, including former US Secretary of State Colin Powell and even the United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan. That global failure over a decade ago continues to cast a dark pall over central Africa since so much of the current instability across the region can be traced back to that watershed event. In fact, although systematic elimination by Hutus of Tutsis over 100 days is horrific on a staggering scale, nearly four million were killed in neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and millions more displaced in a six year continent-wide war, which erupted from the pools of the Rwandan bloodletting. Although peace was officially brokered in 2003 and formal international armies and alliances drew down, the proliferation of weapons across the region has contributed to the festering ethnic and communal violence. As such, governments in the region are not averse to finding common cause with militants and supporting ? both covertly and, in the case of Kigali’s support for the Congolese Revolutionary Movement (MRC) mentioned in the BBC article, overtly ? enemies of their enemies. The fact that the regional inhabitants are still living with the legacy of the Hutu-Tutsi ethnic struggle of Rwanda as splinter groups hop across international boundaries into DRC, Uganda and Kenya for sanctuary only reinforces the reluctant conclusion that although the borders were drawn by Europeans generations ago, the families, tribes, and ethno-linguistic groups are intermingled to such an extent that even local leaders are hard-pressed to maintain, or even to try to reconfigure, political structures to mirror the social groups. Family histories, local traditions, communal feuds, and even organized crime are quickly elevated to international crises since participants traverse the fluid, open borders and the central authorities are unable to secure their frontiers. For example, in early December 2004, Rwanda officially announced an invasion of its massive neighbor DRC to chase and eliminate remnant Forces Democratiques de Liberation du Rwanda (FDLR) Hutu rebels (December 8, 2004 WAR Report). However, such claims lose credibility in light of Kigali’s recent meeting and alleged support of the new Congolese Revolutionary Movement (CRM). The CRM was apparently trying to shore up its flank in Rwanda since it appears the group will at least initially operate near and perhaps from within Uganda. Based on a declaration signed by 15 local rebel leaders in Kampala, Uganda on June 15, 2005, the new umbrella organization may number as many as 20,000 trained soldiers. Among its members, CRM counts Ituri militants from the officially disbanded ethnic-Hema majority Nationalist and Integrationist Front (FNI) rebel group and the main ethnic-majority Hema militia group, the Union of Congolese Patriots (UPC) . As long as the CRM avoids cooperating with the FDLR, they are unlikely be actively confronted by Rwandan troops, which may still be operating in eastern DR Congo and, in fact, may solicit some support. The exact purpose of creating of this new group remains unclear. Uganda has lauded the new group publicly and proclaims its efforts to reintegrate these previously disparate 15 groups into the nascent DR Congo interim government have been misconstrued. The price the CRM must pay for such diplomatic cover, however, is to secure control of territories neighboring Uganda and to eliminate the threat posed by Ugandan

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