The RPA joined with the UPDF to invade DRC again in 1998 after ADFL leader, Laurent Kabila, rejected U.S. and Bechtel Corporation plans for the newly liberated country and annulled mining contracts signed with some powerful Western companies before he had taken power-including America Mineral Fields, based in Hope, Arkansas and said to be linked to then-President Clinton through "Friend of Bill" investors. Kabila also ejected the Rwandan and Ugandan military allies that brought him to power.
Rwanda's Secret War
U.S. - Backed Destabilization of Central Africa
By keith Harmon Snow (February 2005)
0n November 26, 2004, television stations in Kinshasa, the capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), began broadcasting alerts that a Rwandan invasion was underway. This followed days of repeated threats by President Paul Kagame to attack Hum rebels based in the eastern DRC. Belgian and U.S. military sources in Kinshasa said that at least five battalions (1,500-3,000 troops) had penetrated the provinces of North and South Kivu from 5 different points. "This is a sizeable advance force for the Rwandan army," said one military source in Kinshasa.
With Rwanda's government continuing to deny their invasion, some 6,000 Rwandan troops had reportedly penetrated eastern DRC by December 4, making this tiny Rwanda's third major invasion of its huge neighbor to the west.
According to the DRC government, troops of the Armed Forces for the Democratic Republic of Congo (FARDC) had clashed with Rwandan Defense Forces (RDF) at numerous locations by early December. The Monitor newspaper in Uganda reported December 6 that RDF troops passing illegally through Ugandan frontier areas had also clashed with Ugandan soldiers. The Monitor reported thousands of Congolese refugees fleeing into Uganda.
According to IRIN, news network of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, thousands of Congolese civilians were fleeing North Kivu province as of December 6, with civilians claiming executions and massacres as RDF troops burned and looted everything in their path. NGO staff in the region are bracing for the flood of tens of thousands of internally displaced persons.
These claims were echoed by Rwandan guerrilla groups based in the DRC. "According to our sources five Rwandan battalions are already in the DRC ready to create chaos," reported Jean-Marie Higiro, former leader of the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR). "Kagame's regime maintains its sponsorship to rebel DRC forces. Under all kinds of tricks, Kagame's regime is able to continue to pull the strings in the DRC."
He rejected claims that the Rwandan military is acting in self-defense. "Rwanda and its proxy armies in the DRC maintain an absolute cordon sanitaire at the Rwandan-Congolese border," Higiro says. "How can Hum rebels break through this cordon sanitaire and strike Rwanda, then retreat into the DRC without being intercepted?"
Higiro alleges that powerful interests in Washington had, as early as 1989, delineated the now-apparent Tutsi strategy of annexation of the eastern DRC and that there is a very powerful Tutsi lobby in Washington, DC.
Rwanda's latest bid to annex the DRC's Kivu provinces was called the "Third War of Occupation of Eastern Congo" by Congolese students who took to the streets of Kisangani in protest on December 4. Despite Rwanda's official denials of aggression, Rwandan leaders had issued unambiguous warnings in recent days. "You have to make war to have peace," Rwanda's President Paul Kagame told United Nations Observer's Mission In Congo (MONUC) peacekeeping forces on November 23. "We are preparing to return our forces to the DRC," Rwanda's regional cooperation minister, Protais Mitali, said on the 25th, according to Reuters. "We cannot watch as these extremist forces advance onto our territory."
Reuters correspondent David Lewis in Kinshasa reported on November 26 that the Congolese army told the United Nations that its soldiers had clashed with Rwandan troops inside the DRC, although UN peace-keepers found no signs of any fighting, according to Lewis's UN sources. Lewis also reported that clashes had taken place earlier in the week.
In Kinshasa, long-time Mobutu opposition party leader Etienne Tshisekedi from the Union for Democracy and Social Progress issued a communiqué warning that if Rwanda had again invaded the DRC, then the Congolese people must demonstrate against the UN Mission. May and June 2004 saw major demonstrations across the DRC where MONUC vehicles and homes rented by MONUC personnel were destroyed in protest of MONUC's perceived failure to defend the city of Goma from the invading forces of pro-Rwandan rebel groups in Congo. There are no U.S. military with the MONUC force in DRC.
Rwandan and Ugandan guerrilla groups continue to maintain a destabilizing presence in the eastern DRC, including the ex-Force Armee Rwandais (ex-FAR, the former Rwandan army), Interahamwe (the militia largely responsible for the 1994 genocide), Allied Democratic Forces for Uganda (ADF), and the People's Redemption Army (PRA). The DRC government and international community have failed to implement the disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration (DDR) process called for by international peace accords.
Rwanda has repeatedly threatened to invade the DRC to attack Hutu rebels accused of genocide-Interahamwe and ex-FAR. The "genocidiares" fled Rwanda in 1994 and established themselves in Hutu refugee camps in eastern Zaire (as DRC was then known) with the help of the French intervention force Operation Tourquoise and support from Zaire's 32-year dictator, Mobutu Sese Seko. Rwanda also claimed that it must defend the Banyamulenge-Congolese Tutsis-from the ongoing genocide.
MONUC entered the DRC in 1999 after peace agreements signed in Lusaka, Zambia.
Subsequent peace accords in Sun City, South Africa and negotiations with rebels and militias in the eastern DRC ushered in a peace process under a transitional power-sharing government, implementing a joint UN!DRC program of DDR, and the promise of elections in 2005.
The disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration program has largely been an empty promise. The DRC was formally cited at the UN Security Council on November 23 for its lack of cooperation in the arrest of people accused of taking part in the 1994 genocide in Rwanda. In a UN press statement, the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), Hassan Bubacar Jallow from Gambia, told the Security Council that 14 indicted people were still at large and "the bulk of the fugitives continued to be based in the Democratic Republic of Congo." The press release stated that the U.S. ambassador to the UN, John Danforth, called n the DRC and Kenya to arrest fugitives accused of inciting conflicts in the Great Lakes region on the border of DRC and Rwanda.
Impunity for government soldiers and guerrillas alike remains endemic in the eastern DRC provinces of Orientale, Equateur, and the Kivus. According to a recent alert by Survivor's Rights International, reports from isolated areas across the country indicate that populations continue to suffer wholesale extortion, racketeering, theft, rape, and other violence.