Rwanda in Congo: staying or going?

As Passport unfortunately predicted last month, the arrest of Congolese rebel leader Laurent Nkunda was a deal sealed in blood. In exchange for arresting the anti-government leader, the Democratic Republic of Congo let Rwanda send in troops to hunt down a a group of 6,500 former Hutu militias who fled to Congo after the 1994 ...

By , International Crisis Group’s senior analyst for Colombia.
588311_090223_rwandans5.jpg
588311_090223_rwandans5.jpg

As Passport unfortunately predicted last month, the arrest of Congolese rebel leader Laurent Nkunda was a deal sealed in blood. In exchange for arresting the anti-government leader, the Democratic Republic of Congo let Rwanda send in troops to hunt down a a group of 6,500 former Hutu militias who fled to Congo after the 1994 genocide and have been wreaking havoc there ever since. The Hutu militias have responded with retaliatory attacks, leaving over 100 civilians dead in recent weeks.

The bloody purge looked almost over two days ago, when a Congolese government spokesperson announced the withdrawal of Rwandan troops from the DRC. There were plans for departure this Wednesday, and even a joint Rwandan-Congolese military parade.

As Passport unfortunately predicted last month, the arrest of Congolese rebel leader Laurent Nkunda was a deal sealed in blood. In exchange for arresting the anti-government leader, the Democratic Republic of Congo let Rwanda send in troops to hunt down a a group of 6,500 former Hutu militias who fled to Congo after the 1994 genocide and have been wreaking havoc there ever since. The Hutu militias have responded with retaliatory attacks, leaving over 100 civilians dead in recent weeks.

The bloody purge looked almost over two days ago, when a Congolese government spokesperson announced the withdrawal of Rwandan troops from the DRC. There were plans for departure this Wednesday, and even a joint Rwandan-Congolese military parade.

But today, the United Nations’ representative in the country, Alan Doss, says that another military operation will begin soon. Doss urged the militias to disarm and leave the Congo. After the first round of combat, just 250 are estimated to have gone back to Rwanda. The rest are still huddled in the Congolese bush.

Following a request from the Congolese government, the UN has agreed to ask its 6,300 peacekeepers in the area to help make certain that fleeing Hutu militiamen don’t go back to towns and villages.

The devil’s bargain may pay off for Congo’s governent, if not its beleaguered people. Nkunda’s former rebel group — now led by his rival, Bosco Ntaganda — is making progress in peace talks with the government. No surprise there; most analysts think that Ntaganda was paid a handsome sum to schism from Nkunda’s group. Wanted to for war crimes in the Hague, I suspect it was an offer he couldn’t refuse.

LIONEL HEALING/AFP/Getty Images

Elizabeth Dickinson is International Crisis Group’s senior analyst for Colombia.

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