By Kampala Post Reporter
UN peacekeepers have revealed the presence of two Rwandan army battalions on Congolese soil, according to the British online journal Africa Confidential, on June 20, 2019.
These Rwandan troops have taken up positions in the Virunga National Park, Province of North Kivu, and in the border areas with Burundi, Province of South Kivu, according to the British newspaper, which adds that this intervention on Congolese soil is intended to fight against armed groups, without specifying the duration and identity of the armed groups targeted. On the Kinshasa side, it's radio silence.
Relations between Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo have been strained for many years. Rwanda accuses its neighbour of hiding leaders of the 1994 Genocide to destabilize the country, while Congo on the other hand accuses Rwanda of supporting M23 and other rebel groups responsible for the instability in North Kivu Province. In February this year Congolese and Rwandan forces clashed in the North Kivu Province in DRC. The Congolese army claimed they mistook the Rwandan forces for M23 rebels.
On 31st May 2019, at around 1:30 am, Rwandan soldiers estimated to be around 700 in number, a battalion, were seen crossing from Rwanda to Democratic Republic of Congo at a place called Manda, where Rwandan dissident General Kayumba Nyamwasa’s garrisons have been reported by different newspapers and repeated by UN reports. Rwanda has on many occasions clashed with neighbours accusing them of supporting Rwandan rebels.
In March Rwanda suddenly deployed its forces along the border with Uganda near Chanika Border, further raising tensions between the two once friendly neighbours after Rwanda closed off its border at Katuna, a month earlier. Uganda and Rwandan troops clashed in Kisangani, Democratic Republic of Congo nine years ago. More than 1000 deaths were registered during the fight in a foreign land.
In a January 2016 article, French radio RFI revealed that Burundian rebels, refugees in Rwanda, were infiltrating the border areas of Congo and Burundi, Ruzizi and Kavinvira, after having undergone military training in Rwanda and obtained cards of Congolese voters from the hands of the M23, a Tutsi militia that had rained in eastern Congo in 2012 and 2013. These Burundian rebels are considered a serious armed threat by the Burundian government.
A deployment of Rwandan army battalions along Burundi's western borders is expected to result in Bujumbura's reaction and expose Congolese territory to a regional military conflict. On the wounds and experiences of the past, it is unlikely that the Rwandan army will intervene in Congo to fight against the armed groups. The military forces operating on Congolese soil are massive enough for the effectiveness.
In international law, the use of armed force on the territory of a sovereign State is in principle prohibited. It is only legitimate in two cases: the invitation of the State concerned, particularly in the context of defense agreements, or a UN mandate under Chapter VII of the UN Charter. If the Security Council identifies "a threat to peace, breach of the peace or act of aggression", it may "take the necessary measures to maintain or restore international peace and security". It is on the basis of this second exception that a UN force, MONUSCO, is deployed on Congolese soil with military and police contingents from 57 UN member states.
On the first condition, relating to the invitation, the Congolese State has no defense agreement with Rwanda, considered in the Congolese general opinion as an enemy state because of the wars of aggression and his occupation of Congo since 1996. The AFDL-1996, RCD / 1998, CNDP / 2006 and M23 / 2012 wars. They were marked by unspeakable atrocities listed in the 2010 Mapping Report, rapes used as a weapon of war, and looting of the DRC's mineral resources.
More than six million Congolese were killed during these wars of aggression and occupation. Since then, no peace agreement has ever been signed between the two states to eliminate this heavy burden. On the formal level, at the level of the Kinshasa authorities, neither the parliament, nor the Prime Minister, nor President Tshisekedi has published an official document authorizing the deployment of Rwandan troops on Congolese soil.