Conflict & Justice

Congo's rebel leader

In late 2006, the nights before the results for Congo's first democratic elections were announced, a Tutsi soldier from eastern Congo named Nkunda wrote a letter declaring his intentions to take up arms against the new govermment. Nkunda explained a whole list of grievances and things he felt were wrong about Congo and in particular against the minority Tutsis. Nkunda had joined the Congolese Army in 2003 as part of an agreement ending a war. But when Congo's transitional government called him to the capitol in 2004, he balked and this analyst says it's because he was probably concerned he'd be prosecuted for war crimes. She says Nkunda came notorious in 2002 when he was part of a group of officers who brutally put down a rebellion. Rather than risk prosecution, Nkunda claimed the government was started a campaign against the Tutsi and he broke off from the army with a small group of loyal but well trained officers. The Tutsi community in eastern Congo is tiny but it's long controlled the economy here which is a constant source of conflict and jealousy. Many Tutsi landowners feel the government ignores their complaints about the continued presence of a Rwandan Hutu rebel group called the FDLR. Earlier this year Nkunda said the FDLR are the main reason for his rebellion. In late August, Nkunda's army of about 6,000 took on 30,000 government and FDLR troops and Nkunda made huge gains says this analyst and he's now threatening to overthrow the Congolese government. The government says Nkunda has only made gains because of help from the Rwandan government, which the Rwandan government denies. It is clear that Rwanda is using Nkunda to help fight the FDLR and also pilfer resources from Congo. This analyst is worried that if Nkunda is brought into the federal government, it would only encourage other rebels waiting in the wings. But Nkunda and his movement may now been too powerful for the Congolese government to ignore. Nkunda says he wants to use his military talents to help rebuild the entire government.

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