Rwanda’s president Paul Kagame is said to have deep links to the brutal forces of Laurent Nkunda. This needs more investigation – but until then, Mr. Kagame is needed to prevent a war.
The left one, that is (photo: public domain)
Evidence points to Mr Kagame secretlely supporting fellow Tutsi Laurent Nkunda’s National Congress for the Defence of the People (CNDP), a military organisation known for its reckless and brutal fight against the Congolese army, including rape and murder of civilians. The accusations against Mr. Kagame include helping to recruite child-soldiers and sending military material and personal to support the CNDP.
Mr. Nkunda claims he simply wants to protect Tutsi’s from the Hutu genocidaires of the FDLR, who executed mass killings in 1994 and of whom some still dwell in some Congolese regions and make money by controlling a lot of the mineral mines. He also objects a deal that gives China access to the east’s mineral resources.
It was Mr. Kagame’s army which ended the Rwandan genocide then, so him being behind another proxy war makes sense (he invaded DR Congo himself in 1996). But the situation is more complicated: As Europe struggles to keep its influence in the region to secure commodities and keep out China, France and Britain are battling a fight for Rwanda’s soul. As the British have backed Mr. Kagame (and he returned the favour by making English the quasi-lingua-franca), urging him to join the Commonwealth, soon, French companies have been ousted and excluded from lucrative contracts.
This makes it hard to judge which consequences to draw from the UN-report. Mr. Kagame has presented himself as the one reconciling his country, but has excluded Hutu farmers from any help at all (the government’s budget on farming is around three percent, but the sector employs 80 percent of the workforce, mostly Hutus). He has not been able to improve Rwanda’s infrastructure, so the ambition to destabilize the neighbouring Congo to participate in its mineral wealth is obvious. On the other hand, nobody can blame him for trying to keep the FDLR from returning to Rwanda.
In a situation where troops from Angola and Uganda are said to get involved in the conflict, too, and the tension between DR Congo and the CNDP constantly rises, Mr. Kagame will play a decisive role in how things develop. He may have blood on his hands, but he, as well as DR Congo’s president Joseph Kabila, is needed to keep the situation from getting worse. There have to be clear benchmarks to show progress, though, and the investigations about Mr. Kagame’s role should silently continue.
With mineral prices at a record low, all sides could be tempted to start a “cheap“ war. The international community should not allow this to happen, even if it means putting hope into alleged bad guys, once more.
*not proven, but the UN says so