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Mon Sep 22 08:14:37 SAST 2014

Rwanda, Uganda and Burundi involvement alleged in DRC

Sapa-AFP | 18 November, 2012 15:37
Recruits of the Congolese Revolutionary Army perform a military drill during training in Rumangabo military camp, Democratic Republic of Congo. File photo.
Image by: JAMES AKENA / REUTERS

Rwanda, Uganda and Burundi have been suspected of military involvement in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, where rebels are fighting government troops.

All three countries have previously sent forces into the DR Congo, which borders them to the west.

Rwanda

A leaked UN report recently accused Rwanda's Defence Minister James Kabarebe of being the "de facto" commander of M23 rebels battling DR Congo government forces in eastern Nord-Kivu province. It also accuses Rwanda of breaking an arms embargo to supply M23 with military support, intelligence and weapons.

Rwanda has vehemently denied the allegations, dismissing them as a "determined political campaign opposed to resolving the true causes of the conflict" in eastern DR Congo.

Several major international donors have suspended aid over the claims.

Rwanda sent troops into the DR Congo in 1996 and again in 1998. It has also previously supported various proxies in DR Congo, while normally denying any involvement with them.

From 1996 to 1998, Rwanda backed Laurent Kabila's rebels as they ousted the late dictator of the then Zaire, Mobutu Sese Seko.

After falling out with Kabila, Rwanda re-invaded Congo in 1998, quickly getting sucked into a second major conflict in the country that lasted until 2003.

In 2001, the United Nations accused Rwanda and its proxies of systematically looting DR Congo's vast mineral wealth.

In 2008, Rwanda was accused by the United Nations of supporting a rebellion by the Tutsi-led National Congress for the Defence of the People (CNDP), many of whose members are now part of M23.

In 2009, Rwandan forces entered eastern DR Congo with Kinshasa's permission to fight the Hutu Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) rebel group, made up of some of those responsible for the 1994 genocide in Rwanda of more than 800,000 minority Tutsis and moderate Hutus.

Uganda

According to the UN report, senior Ugandan officials have "actively supported" the M23. The allegations include claims that Uganda deployed around 600 troops to help the rebels prepare offensives.

Uganda has vehemently denied the accusations, saying Kampala is playing a central role as a regional mediator brokering talks between Kinshasa and the rebels.

In retaliation, Ugandan officials have threatened to withdraw the country's troops from all international peacekeeping missions.

From 1996 to 1998, Uganda, along with Rwanda, backed Laurent Kabila's rebels as they ousted Mobutu.

From 1998 to 2003, Uganda became embroiled in DR Congo's protracted second war -- sometimes called Africa's "Great War" -- backing proxy militias and battling former ally Rwanda in the eastern DR Congo city of Kisangani.

The United Nations accused Ugandan commanders of plundering the DR Congo's mineral wealth, and in 2005 the International Court of Justice ordered Uganda to pay reparations.

Burundi

In early October this year, a DR Congolese militia fighting government forces in eastern Sud-Kivu province claimed that Burundi government troops were fighting alongside DR Congo army soldiers, which Bujumbura denies.

Bujumbura claims instead that the Burundian rebel National Liberation Forces (FNL) have rear bases in Sud-Kivu.

Burundi nevertheless acknowledged that a Burundian officer was killed there, but said he had been on an official intelligence mission under a military cooperation accord with the DR Congo.

According to the Burundi army, this accord includes joint search operations along the border, with each of the two forces patrolling its own side.

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Mon Sep 22 08:14:37 SAST 2014 ::