Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Ground Being Laid to Extend Umoja Wetu

Well, color me surprised. Although Congolese President Kabila two weeks ago promised the Congolese that Rwandan troops would finish their job and return to Rwanda by the end of February, Rwanda is laying the groundwork to extend its incursion into the Congo indefinitely.

The Rwanda New Times "reports" that members of Rwandan parliament want to see the deadline for the Rwandan incursion into Congo extended:
Members of Parliament yesterday expressed dissatisfaction with the deadline set for the Joint Task Force (JTF) operations in Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo and asked for the mandate to be prolonged for the exercise to be successfully completed.

This came up in their meeting with the Minister of Defence, Gen Marcel Gatsinzi, who was updating them on the current situation of the "Umoja Wetu" operation.

MPs expressed great concern about the time boundaries being a possible obstacle to the total success of the joint action.

"The forests in Congo are very thick and huge, you can't rout all FDLR (Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda) out of these jungles in just 15 days," said Aimable Nibishaka, an MP.
The New Times also "reports" that the British army chief Sir Richard Dannatt has given full support to the ongoing joint operation.
Shortly after holding talks with the Chief of Defence Staff of Rwanda Defence Force (RDF) Gen James Kabarebe, Dannatt said that he was impressed by Rwanda's professional peace mission.

"Rwanda should keep the pressure against negative forces, it is the way to restore full peace in the region," he encouraged.
And, finally, it "reports" that North Kivu's traditional chiefs are asking that the mission be extended.
North Kivu's "Bami" or Traditional Chiefs (Les chefs coutumiers) requested government Friday to consider extending the ongoing joint military offensive against ex-Far/Interahamwe beyond its earlier set time limit of 15 days.

Meanwhile, 270 (of 500) members of the Congolese parliament have petitioned the speaker of parliament, Vital Kamerhe, to convene an extraordinary session of parliament to examine what they call the extra-constitutional agreements signed by President Kabila with Rwanda and Uganda allowing their troops into Congo. However, it is not clear to me that the parliament has the power to demand that the agreements be canceled, or that Kabila would be legally bound to respect that demand. So the Congolese may find they don't have any say, legally or politically speaking, regarding the presence of foreign troops on their soil, at least not until the next presidential election.

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