Monday, June 4, 2012

Daily Links

HRW says in a new report that the Rwandan military provided weapons, ammunition, and an estimated 200 to 300 recruits to support Ntaganda’s mutiny in Rutshuru territory, eastern Congo. The rights group also alleges that Rwanda offered shelter to renegade leader Bosco Ntaganda. Rwanda's Foreign Minister Louise Mushikiwabo has denied these allegations.

Click on map for fuller view (HRW)

It's not clear from the initial reporting whether Rwanda offered Ntaganda military support before or after his defection from the Congolese army; nor is it clear from the reporting whether, if that support is ongoing, it is being channeled to Ntaganda or to the splinter group M23. (There is some skepticism about whether these two groups are as  independent of each other as they claim. Stearns is now reporting that Ntganda is in command of M23, even if he's not by their side.) The HRW report comes on the heel of last week's leaked UN report that indicated that the Rwandan military is providing ongoing support for M23.

However, Georgianne Nienaber is now reporting that the initial stories  (in the BBC and NYT) about that leaked UN report may have exaggerated the extent of Rwanda's involvement in eastern Congo. The latest comment from the UN says the BBC (and presumably the NYT) got it wrong. U.N. spokesman Penangnini Toure told Voice of America (VOA) that the UN report resulted from a "routine interrogation of the 11 men who had presented themselves to the UN and asked to be repatriated to Rwanda. That's all we reported and that's where it stops. The U.N. did not produce a report saying that Rwanda is directly involved in what is happening in eastern Congo," he said.

Radio Okapi is reporting that after a week of calm, the Congolese military launched an offensive yesterday against rebels of the Movement of March 23 (M23) in the hills of Runyoni, near the town of Bunagana in Rutshuru territory (North Kivu). Previous military initiatives have displaced tens of thousands of Congolese from North Kivu's Masisi, Walikale and Rutshuru territories. There is no word yet on how many have been displaced by this most recent initiative.

The impression I get is that the Congolese military has finally gotten serious about taking control of North Kivu and that Rwanda is no longer willing or able to support a counter-offensive using Rwandaphone Congolese as their sword and shield. This is good news for the territorial integrity of Congo, but will pose severe challenges for the long-term rights and protections of the region's BanyaRwanda, who have been treated as a political football since early in Mobutu's career.

Laura Seay pointed out recently that the conflict in the Ituris has been largely suppressed rather than resolved over the past four years. The status of the BanyaRwanda in the aftermath of the Congolese military's reconquest of North Kivu poses another local challenge to regional peace. I would hope that the international community is moving proactively to address these issues, but I suspect it isn't.

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Kambale Musavuli reports that ‎#ANONYMOUS hacked into the email server of TRAXYS, one of the companies implicated numerous times in getting coltan out of the Congo illegally in rebel controlled areas. I hope Anonymous and other black hats will continue to investigate corrupt oil and mineral dealing in Congo and elsewhere in Africa. They can do things bordering on the illegal, which established financial watchdogs, like Global Integrity or the Carter Center, can't do. Finding out more about how Africa's wealth is being sold off at fire-sale rates is too important a task to be left to the scrupulous.

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Radio Okapi has a story about how prisoners in Mbuji Mayi are being suffering from disease and famine because five times as many prisoners are being held than the jail was built for. The radio service is also reporting that the army killed six mai mai in Beni.

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