Rwanda behind “catastrophic” Congo fighting?

Renewed fighting between the Congolese army and forces loyal to a renegade general Laurent Nkunda has displaced more than 100,000 people in eastern Congo since August, according to UN officials, who describe the situation as “catastrophic.” The fighting has mainly been in North Kivu province, where Nkunda and his the National Congress for the Defense of the People have established a virtual fiefdom, taking over villages and levying taxes. Nkunda says he is protecting the region’s Tutsi minority from ethnic Hutu militias. In recent weeks, Nkunda he has vowed to “liberate” all of the Democratic Republic of Congo from the government of President Joseph Kabila. (WP, Oct. 16)

In an Oct. 14 press conference, the Congolese national army exhibited items recovered from a North Kivu gun battle a week earlier, claiming they offer “irrefutable proof” that the Rwandan Defense Forces are fighting alongside Nkunda’s forces. The items include health insurance documents form the Rwandan Ministry of Defense, firearm storage equipment with the official seal of the Rwandan Defense Forces and R4 and AK-47 rifles, which the Congolese army says it does not possess. The governor of North Kivu appealed to the UN Security Council to acknowledge the participation of Rwanda in the conflict. (ReliefWeb, Oct. 14)

See our last post on Congo.