militias

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US tells Rwanda to stop backing Congo rebels … again | 

Col. Sultani Makenga of the rebel forces formerly known as M23, now the Congolese Revolutionary Army.
Col. Sultani Makenga of the rebel forces formerly known as M23, now the Congolese Revolutionary Army.
Flickr, Pan-African News Wire

Now that the world has sufficiently celebrated the fact that British royalty is still able to procreate, perhaps we can turn to more urgent matters: Like DR Congo.

Given the drumbeat of bad news and eruptions of violence out of eastern Congo, it’s easy to think whatever is happening there is just more of the same – the same, chronic fights between DR Congo’s somewhat dysfunctional military (not to mention its government) and the variously named militias operating for any number of causes (including just pure criminality) in the region.

But in fact, things may be a bit different this time.

For one thing, the United States government is publicly reprimanding the government of Rwanda for its support of the most powerful and violent rebel army in eastern Congo, the M23.

That’s not the first time this has happened, however, and the typical response from Rwandan President (and former military general) Paul Kagame is to either not respond at all or simply deny Rwandan support for the M23. Almost nobody seems to believe the denials, but the net effect is to negate the entire discussion and wait for disinterest to set in.

What’s new is that the calls for Rwanda to stop supporting the Congo militia are not going away. And there are other signs.

Paul-Kagame-300x282What has long protected Kagame is that he is much admired by many in the West (Bill Clinton, Tony Blair, Jeff Sachs and physician activist Paul Farmer among the admirers). That, and the fact that the country did get screwed over by the international community during the 1994 genocide. So it’s kind of easy for Kagame to simply shrug off Western chastisements or calls for policy changes.

The Rwandan President can be quite charming, convincing. On a visit to Rwanda in 2011, I had the opportunity to interview Kagame with a number of other journalists on a trip with the International Reporting Project. Continue reading

Rwandan-backed rebels take Congo city Goma | 

A rebel army widely believed to be backed by the Rwandan government has taken over Goma, a city in eastern DR Congo bordering Rwanda. Many are concerned that this action could spark a much larger regional war.

Flickr, Pan-African News Wire

Col. Sultani Makenga of the rebel forces formerly known as M23, now the Congolese Revolutionary Army.

This is a big deal folks. Remember the last time you didn’t pay attention to what was happening in this neck of the woods? Remember that movie, Hotel Rwanda? Rwandan President Paul Kagame is a darling of the west, but he also seems to be backing this illegal military invasion of a neighboring country. How will the world respond? See news reports listed below: Continue reading