Rwanda's Strategic Interests in the DRC
Jun 29, 2012 | 10:00 GMT
WALTER ASTRADA/AFP/Getty Images
A new rebel movement called M23 is forming in the easternmost region of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Since June 20 almost 300 soldiers have defected from the DRC's military and are joining M23, which is led by a defected DRC colonel, Sultani Makenga. These defections follow the April 1 mutiny of 300-600 former members of the local militia group National Congress for the Defense of the People (CNDP) from the DRC armed forces — an episode that prompted DRC President Joseph Kabila to deploy 1,000 troops to the border region.
These defections have complicated the deteriorating security situation in eastern DRC — a situation that Rwanda has been known to exploit. In May, the United Nations obtained evidence that high-ranking Rwandan officials, including Rwandan Defense Minister James Kabarebe, were supporting and aiding M23. If the U.N. report is true, this marks the latest episode in Rwandan President Paul Kagame's two-decade trend of meddling in DRC affairs. Rwanda's main concerns in eastern DRC are security-related. Exiled Hutu militias, as well as any move to unify a strong force in the region, can threaten Rwanda and limit Kigali's ability to capitalize on the DRC's natural resources.