Rwandan Special Forces training near the border with the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Sources in Kigali and Kinshasa have confirmed to AfroAmerica Network that two battalions of Rwandan Defense Forces and defeated M23 rebels troops were sent into Kinshasa between June 7 and June 10, 2014
Rwandan Defense Forces (RDF) and Democratic Republic of the Congo Armed Forces (FARDC) engaged in skirmishes on Wednesday June 11, and Thursday June 12, 2014. According to sources inside Rwanda, 5 Congolese and 1 Rwandan soldiers were killed. The DRC government denied the casualties and instead affirmed to have killed a score of Rwandan troops after dislodging them from their positions. Rwandan forces had crossed the border into DRC and briefly occupied the hill of Kanyesheja, near Kibati in the North-Kivu province.
The fightings are indisputable, while the number of casualties remains a subject of controversy. However, a burning question persists: why Rwandan Defense Forces attacked, and why now?
Attacks Follow A Large Movement of Rwandan Defense Special Forces in Kinshasa.
The fightings appeared a surprise. Late last week, Rwandan dictator General Paul Kagame, under a secret agreement with DRC President Joseph Kabila, sent a battalion of Rwandan Special Forces and Rwandan-backed M23 rebels to Kinshasa. According to various independent sources inside the DRC Security services, the Rwandan Military, and defeated M23 Rebels leadership, the Rwandan Special Forces were sent into Kinshasa to reinforce Joseph Kabila’s Republican Guard, in an anticipation of riots and protests, if he decides to hold onto power (see our article here).
Meanwhile, many more troops have been flown to Kinshasa under the cover of the night, and some have been transiting into Congo-Brazzaville and crossing the border in unmarked trucks. Sources in Kinshasa confirmed to AfroAmerica Network that, by Thursday, while RDF and FARDC were allegedly fighting in East, the Rwandan Special Forces were finalizing their deployment in Kinshasa. It is believed that more than two battalions are now in the military camps in and around Kinshasa, especially the Kakolo military camp.
Given the situation, many are quick to deduct that the fightings in the East were a smokescreen created by General Paul Kagame and Joseph Kabila. Hence, the fightings are viewed as a way to distract the Congolese people and politicians and to draw their attention away from the backdoor dealings, that led to the deployment of Rwandan Special Forces and M23 rebels.
General Paul Kagame and Joseph Kabila: A History of Backdoor deals.
If the fightings are related to the deployment of Rwandan Defense Forces, this would not be a first. General Paul Kagame and Joseph Kabila have, on several occasions engaged into backdoor dealings, that appeared aimed at maintaining insecurity in Eastern DRC, and eventually benefit both: Joseph Kabila to hold onto power and General Paul Kagame to maintain his grip on the lucrative natural resources in North-Eastern DRC.
Because of these dealings, Congolese politicians have accused Joseph Kabila of being a Rwandan agent and puppet of General Paul Kagame and of treason (see our September 6, 2012 article: DRC President Joseph Kabila Accused of Treason: Did He Do It? The Telegram Story )
In 2012, the political opposition in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) had accused DRC president General Joseph Kabila of high treason, after it was discovered that Rwandan government had maintained hundreds of Rwandan Defense Forces on the DRC Territory. AfroAmerica Network had obtained and published a copy of a secret telegram that confirmed how Joseph Kabila was maintaining the Rwandan Special Forces, without the knowledge on the Congolese people and in an apparent violation of the Congolese constitution.
The Telegram that Exposed the Ugly Dealings.
The secret telegram showed how the Congolese top leaders had concluded agreements with General Paul Kagame, while telling the Congolese people and the opposition that the relations between Rwandan and DRC government had deteriorated. In fact the secret telegram, from the FARDC military leadership, gave specific instructions to the unit commanders how to work with the Rwandan Special Forces. The telegram, numbered: SECRET NO 0171/OPS AMANI LEO/COORD/G3, was sent by General Dieudonne Amuli Bahingwa, Commander of Operation Amani, on December 29, 2010. General Amuli Bahingwa sent the telegram to FARDC COMD Nord-Kivu and Sud-Kivu with copies to CHEFEMG-CHEFEM FT- COMD 8-10 RGN MIL, obviously the Chief of Join Military Staff, Chief of the Army, and Commanders of 8, 9 and 10 military divisions.
The telegram, a copy of which was obtained by AfroAmerica Network in January 2011, instructed the commanders of North and South Kivu to identify elite troops that would work with Rwandan Special Forces. Specifically, General Amuli Bahingwa said in the telegram that he was acting under the orders of the Chief of the Joint Military Staff and following a secret meeting between the Rwandan and DRC military leaders in Kigali, on November 2, 2010. He was asking that most of the Congolese Special Forces to joint their Rwandan counterparts be composed of 60% from FARDC and 40 % from Rwandan government proxy armed rebels.
General Paul Kagame and Joseph Kabila: Who Benefits From the War in the East
Recently, tensions in Kinshasa between Joseph Kabila and his opposition have been rising. The opposition suspects Joseph Kabila of seeking to hold onto power after his term expires in 2 years.
US Government Secretary of State, John Kerry, Western diplomats in Kinshasa, including the US Special Representative in the DRC and the Great Lakes Region, Russell Feingold, and the UN Secretary General representative Martin Kobler, have recently urged Joseph Kabila to step aside after his current term expires. Joseph Kabila has reacted angrily and accused the diplomats of interfering in Congolese internal affairs. On Saturday June 14, 2014, Joseph Kabila’s party leaders repeated to the DRC parliament his stern warnings to the West.
Given the rising protests of the opposition and the prospects for seeing the peaceful opposition soon morph into armed rebellions, Joseph Kabila may be ready to do anything, if he wants to hold onto power, including inviting the forces of General Paul Kagame and agreeing to a simulation of fighting to cover up the movement of the Rwandan troop movements.
General Paul Kagame’s motives appear different but various, sometimes conflictual:
First, Paul Kagame is increasingly isolated in the Great Lakes Region and across Africa for his incessant military adventures against his Congolese neighbor, overt assassination of Rwandan opposition leaders exiled to the countries of the region, and his threats to other leaders, especially to the Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete (see our articles on Paul Kagame threatening Jakaya Kikwete here) Hence, maintaining the notoriously weak and incompetent Joseph Kabila in power remains a guaranty for not having a decisive leader in DRC who could further increase the isolation.
Second, with incessant military adventures, General Paul Kagame has expanded his army and security forces beyond economically sustainable levels. To pay his troops, General Paul Kagame has been seeking participation in United Nations peace keeping missions around the World. According to sources within the Rwandan Ministry of Defense, the salary of one Rwandan UN peacekeeper pays between 3 and 5 regular troops deployed along the borders of DRC and Tanzania and Rwanda.
However, he needs more, especially to pay his Republican Guard, setup specifically to ensure that he remains in power and his authority in unchallenged. Hence, most of the funds to pay the Republican Guard allegedly come from Joseph Kabila’s coffers and the looting of Congolese natural resources. General Paul Kagame has to maintain Joseph Kabila in power to safeguard his own.
Third, both Paul Kagame and Joseph Kabila hate the UN Intervention Brigade and, to some extend, the UN Mission in DRC, MONUSCO. They do not have a control on UN Intervention Brigade military leadership. The UN Intervention Brigade has proven that it can take independent decisions, engage into operations and win wars.
The question often asked in the circles around both General Paul Kagame and Joseph Kabila is the role of UN Intervention Brigade and MONUSCO, once Eastern DRC is peaceful. According to people close to the two leaders, the only option is to never let East DRC be at peace, so that the there won’t be any need to answer the question.
That is perhaps why Rwandan Special Forces are being deployed in Kinshasa, while unwarranted skirmishes happen in Eastern DRC between oblivious FARDC and RDF troops.