Business, Finance & Economics

Rwanda: Military officers arrested by President Paul Kagame


Rwandan soldiers attend a ceremony on Feb. 25, 2009 in Goma. A military parade was held to mark the departure of Rwandan forces from eastern Democratic Republic of Congo after a controversial joint operation with Congolese troops against Rwandan Hutu rebels.


Lionel Healing

NAIROBI, Kenya — Three army generals and a colonel are under house arrest in Rwanda accused of looting — or as the Rwandan military put it "indiscipline" — in Congo.

The men include two of Rwanda's spy chiefs, one of whom is a close advisor to President Paul Kagame.

Read more on GlobalPost: Rwandan military officers arrested

The most significant thing about the arrests is that this is the first acknowledgement by Kigali that senior officers have been involved in the wholesale plunder of Rwanda's larger, mineral-rich but catastrophically dysfunctional neighbour.

Rwanda first invaded Congo in pursuit of the genocidaires, the Hutu killers who butchered 800,000 people during the 1994 genocide. Then Rwanda invaded again when it fell out with former ally Laurent Kabila, father of the current president of Congo.

But even when Rwanda has not been in Congo, it's still been in Congo, either secretly or via proxies. And Rwanda has long denied accusations of plundr.

Read more on GlobalPost: FDLR commander Leodomir Mugaragu killed in Congo

The most recent UN Group of Experts report on Congo, published in December, pointed out that Rwanda exported far more minerals that it mines, the implication being that there is large-scale smuggling of Congolese minerals which are laundered through Rwanda.

So the arrests are an overdue admission of guilt.

There may be another motive.

Kagame is a strict man who dislikes dissent. A number of his senior officers and former allies have fallen out with him in recent years and gone into exile complaining about their former comrade's autocratic tendencies.

So this could be an episode of house-cleaning, removing threats before they become serious.

But as any observer will tell you the inner workings of the interlocking Rwandan army and political elite are Shakespearean in their opacity.

Read more on GlobalPost: International court sends Rwanda genocide suspect to face trial in Kigali