Rwandan Army rumored to be sending new soldiers to neighboring Congo

Despite recent accusations that the Rwandan Army committed a possible genocide in the Congo in the 1990s, meetings between Rwandan President Paul Kagame and Congolese President Joseph Kabila are fueling rumors of a new troop deployment there.

John Liebenberg/AP
Rwanda's President Paul Kagame inspects the guard of honor in Kigali, Rwanda, on Sept. 6 2010 during his inauguration ceremony. Some 14 African presidents were on hand, including Congolese President Joseph Kabila.

There have been some persistent rumors in the region about a possible new deployment of Rwandan Army soldiers into the Congo. Of course, these kinds of rumors are a dime a dozen around Goma nad Bukavu. These, however, come from sources within the officer corps of the armed militia party National Congress for the Defence of the People (CNDP), as well as from inside the Rwandan government, so perhaps we should give them more credence.

Our ears, therefore, perked up when we found out that Congolese President Joseph Kabila met with Rwandan President Paul Kagame several times (one source says up to four times) during the three days that Mr. Kabila spent in Kigali to attend Mr. Kagame's inauguration. What were they talking about?

If there were another deployment of Rwandan troops, what would its purpose be? There are three schools of thought here, as far as I can tell. The first is that they are genuinely worried about a new coalition of anti-Kigali forces – the CNDP defector Emmanuel Nsengiyumva, the FPLC commander Gad Ngabo, the Hutu rebel group Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), and the Cheka Mai-Mai. I'm not sure about this, although some people have linked this coalition to Rwandan dissident Kayumba Nyamwasa. These armed groups are fairly weak and I doubt they pose much threat to Kigali (although they could carry out isolated, damaging strikes).

The second hypothesis is that the forces are going in to secure key mining areas that have recently become destabilized by the Mai-Mai Cheka and the FDLR. The news this week that many flights have been suspended into parts of Walikale due to the kidnapping of pilots there the other week would strengthen this hypothesis.

The third hypothesis is that the Rwanda Defence Force (RDF) wants another go at the FDLR. They only had five weeks in 2009 when they went in, and the FDLR has been significantly weakened – they want to give them a coup de grace. The skeptics here would point out that the Umoja Wetu operations of last year did not do too much damage against the FDLR, who suffered more from the Kimia II operations that followed.

A lot of hypotheticals here, as you can see.

--- Jason Stearns blogs at Congo Siasa.

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