This Week in the Great Lakes: Congo and UN tango over child soldiers while US preaches engagement
A holiday season roundup of this week's news from Africa's Great Lakes region: women march in the Congo for more legal action against rapists, Rwandan journalists petition for changes to defamation laws, and Al Shabab remains a threat in Burundi.
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Two thousand women from Rwanda, Burundi, Kenya, Sierra Leone and DRC marched in Rutshuru to demand better legal action against rape perpetrators. The UN's plan to protect villagers who survived mass rapes earlier this year by giving them communications equipment is foiled by the high cost of the equipment, which may make the villagers targets for further violence.
The UN Security Council sanctions a Congolese commander for recruiting child soldiers. Congo retains American military aid after the Obama Administration exempts (pdf) DRC from sanctions for child soldier recruitment, citing a belief that working with "troubled militaries is the best way to reform them." Rights groups say recruiting child soldiers continues.
Congo protests the loss of trading privileges with the US after the Obama Administration accuses its army of complicity in crimes against civilians. A French emissary calls human rights in the country a "shipwreck." The US and Congo sign a nuclear non-proliferation agreement. The US accuses a Congolese company rumored to be linked to Kabila of funding Hezbollah. Congo could be getting a new political party.