Impending Crises in Rwanda, Burundi and the DRC

By Scott Morgan

There are several crises spots in Africa that are interconnected. The cycle began in the middle part of the 1990s when the region of the Great Lakes of Africa exploded in an orgy of violence that almost destroyed three countries, resulted in a genocide in one of them and led to instability in the others.

The three countries in question are Rwanda, Burundi and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The current state of affairs in that region is just as chaotic now as it was back then.

At this point, in 2017, it appears that history is on the verge of repeating itself. One of the countries mentioned above (the DRC) should have a new President in office as we speak. Instead, the Incumbent Joseph Kabila has manipulated the Constitution and the Judicial System to extend his tenure in office. Elections were supposed to have been run on November 30, 2016 with the new President assuming office on December 20. However, there was a glimmer of hope on New Year’s eve with the Catholic Church brokering a deal where elections would be run by the end of 2017 - in addition to the decision that there would be an opposition Prime Minister. Notwithstanding, media reports suggest that the new prime minister is working in concert with Kabila to extend his term. If this information is correct then the crisis in the DRC will most likely fester, rather than escalate, before there is some resolution.

The other issue is the current state of relations between Rwanda and Burundi. Tensions have been simmering for sometime now. Things have become more acute since the controversial third term of President Nkuruziza. Tensions between the two nations have risen due to the influx of refugees from Burundi into neighboring Rwanda. One of the allegations is that Rwandan Intelligence has recruited operatives from amongst the refugees and sent them back into Burundi for operations against the government. Kigali may want to know exactly how the security situation is within its neighbor.

However, in late April 2017, the Burundian Authorities lashed out: it was announced that the Burundians have suspended food aid shipments crossing the border from Rwanda. Why would the Burundian Government take such action at this point of time? Does it fear an effort by the Rwandan Government to remove it by any means necessary? Is it trying to limit any perceived threat from outside its borders? We have heard more than once, throughout history, that even paranoid people and governments do have real enemies.

The major concern is what will the neighbors do? In recent days, Uganda has removed its forces from the Central African Republic that were searching for the Warlord Joseph Kony. It is believed that they will return to the country and be redeployed to address the myriad of issues that are in the proximity of Uganda. The US has also removed the Special Forces that were in the country as well. The US has stated that it will still engage the nations that were affected by the atrocities committed by Kony during his reign of terror.

It is clear that if anything happens in the region it will be difficult for Uganda to remain Neutral for a longer period of time. It will be forced to decide what will be in their best interests. Stability is always a factor when it comes to Diplomacy. Uganda does have a checkered past when it comes to intervention in regional crisis spots - that being said the clock is ticking.

France has been active in response to crisis situations in West Africa and in the CAR. Could they work with the United States in an intervention if it becomes necessary? It is possible, but how would the people react if the Trump Administration felt that such action needed to be taken? Those are great questions.

(Image: CEPGL border - Google Images)

[The views expressed in this publication are solely those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of Dissecting Society]