African Arguments

By William Macpherson
July 9, 2012


Laurent Nkunda – dressed, Messiah-like in white – whose Congolese Tutsi forces were previously given Rwandan support, symbolises neighbourly meddling in the DRC.

A recent UN report on the crisis in eastern DRC indicates that senior members of the Rwandan military have been supporting Congo’s newest rebel outfit, M23. Such revelations hold true to a familiar pattern that has seen Rwanda play a significant and controversial role in Congolese history since 1996.
Over the past sixteen years, the presence of aggressive Hutu militias in the Kivus has encouraged Rwanda to play the role of regional policeman in an attempt to protect both its own borders and vulnerable Congolese Tutsi. That said, opportunistic strategies of personal and national accumulation, displayed particularly during the Second Congo War, have left Rwandan leaders susceptible to the accusation that their agenda in the DRC is somewhat more Machiavellian. As a result, the Rwandan government has often been accused of spoiling Congolese peace as a means to pursue its own ends.
Hutu Militias, Border Protection and the Congolese Tutsi
A central justification for Rwandan military activity in the DRC has been the threat posed, both to border security, but also to Congolese Tutsi, by Hutu militias based in the DRC. Often, the Kinshasa government’s inability to provide effective security in the Kivus against these groups has been used to justify the use of Rwandan force.
The Impact of the 1994 Genocide
After the 1994 Genocide, the victory of the Tutsi dominated Rwandan Patriotic Front (“RPF”) brought about a change in government in Kigali. The remnants of Rwanda’s genocidal former government, alongside Interhamwe and other members of the Hutu power movement fled west into North and South Kivu. Upon arrival, these groups, sustained by the massive influx of humanitarian aid, were able to regroup and coordinate deadly cross-border raids into their homeland. By 2000, these groups had formed the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) which continues to fight in eastern Congo to this day.  Read more…