24 January, 2009

Nkunda's arrest - part 2

Colin Thomas-Jensen tells us what Nkunda's arrest means for the DRC. One thing is for a sure, working with Rwanda is a gamble for the DRC.
Even though Nkunda has been arrested, allowing Rwandan troops back onto Congolese soil is a dangerous gamble for Congolese President Kabila. Many people in eastern Congo loathe Rwanda for its behavior during the wars that ripped the country apart from 1996 to 2002, when they failed to dislodge the FDLR while looting substantial mineral wealth. The Rwandan military has been able to inflict substantial casualties on the FDLR on the past, but never to the point where they were able to break them as a force. The longer Rwandan forces remain in eastern Congo, the more vulnerable Kabila will be to internal challenges.

Wronging Rights comments on the arrest too. At one point she asks: Would Rwanda arrest their own stooge? Um, yes! If arresting him quelles political pressure, reassures European allies who were threatening to take away aid, and if it gets the UN off their back and makes it look as though it is not impeding peace in the DRC (which it has been!). In war "allies" will turn on each other so fast you need an egg-timer to track it. It's all about weighing options and which alliance gets you closer to what you want. For Kagame, Nkunda has become a liability (read article above). Nkunda needs to be reigned in or removed - what better way to do that and "deny" involvement with the man then be part of the force that brings him in? And they got to arrest him in Rwanda - what more picture perfect power play do you want?

Nkunda's arrest does not to prove the UN was wrong in its assessment that Rwanda was backing his operations in the DRC. What it does say, is that internationally the world is taking notice. Internationally there is hint that this conflict, which has killed 5.5 million people, could become a big deal. Let's not count our chickens yet... but change could be coming.

On a random DRC note, Ben Affleck made a movie with or about Nicholas Kristof. The Reporter premiered at Sundance this week. Watch Ben's interview then watch the trailer.

Also, one more resource: The BBC puts out a weekly podcast about news in Africa. Listen to it here.