Accessibility links

Kabila Accuses Rwanda of Trying to Profit from Congo Chaos

Congo President Joseph Kabila has accused Rwanda of repeatedly trying to use the presence of Rwandan Hutus rebels in eastern Congo as a pretext for maintaining its control and influence in the area. In an address to the nation late Thursday, he reassured the Congolese people he had put the army on high alert, amid reports that Rwandan troops have again crossed into Congo.

President Joseph Kabila's silence during the last week, while Rwanda repeatedly threatened to send its soldiers into Congo, had been noted by many in Kinshasa. But it was finally broken late Thursday when the president, looking solemn, addressed the nation on state television.

Mr. Kabila accused neighboring Rwanda of using the presence of Rwandan rebels in eastern Congo as a pretext for what he termed "criminal adventures" in his country.

He said that ever since Rwanda began meddling in Congo's affairs, the tiny country's policies have been aimed at exploiting eastern Congo and maintaining political and economic control in the region.

Many analysts and critics accuse Rwanda and its allies inside Congo of using the rebels as an excuse to occupy eastern Congo and plunder diamonds, timber, gold and other minerals.

The president said that Rwanda's bad faith is clear and he asserted that every time Congo, with help from the international community, began making progress in neutralizing the threat of the Congo-based Rwandan Hutu rebels, Rwanda torpedoed the process.

Many of the Rwandan rebels in eastern Congo were among the Hutu extremists that took part in the 1994 genocide, killing some 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus, before fleeing into eastern Congo.

Rwanda has since invaded its vast neighbor twice, ostensibly to hunt down these exiled rebels.

The second Rwandan invasion was one of the triggers of Congo's five year war, which sucked in five other neighboring countries and killed some three million people.

Rwanda renewed its threats to return to Congo last week when it said the failure of the United Nations and the Congolese government to disarm the rebels left it no option but to do the job itself.

The Congolese government, as well as numerous local sources, have said that Rwandan troops have already arrived in Congo. Diplomats say that officials in Kigali have admitted in private that some special forces have been sent across the border. But Rwanda still publicly maintains its soldier have not done so.

The U.N. mission of some 11,000 peacekeepers appears to have not yet made up its mind. It has said its patrols have seen soldiers suspected of being Rwandan and on Thursday added that it had further evidence of the Rwandan army's presence in Congo.

But following a briefing by the head of peacekeeping in New York, the Security Council remained non-committal, with a member telling reporters "the general sense is that there were Rwandan troops, although nobody can really confirm it in the clearest way".