International Rebel Parties in the Great Lakes

Reports are streaming in that FDLR fighters from Eastern Congo are moving into the Kibira forests of Northwestern Burundi. General Lazare Nduwayo of the Burundian army told the AFP:

“The army last week received information about incursions into Burundi by FDLR (Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda) rebels … escaping from the military pressure resulting from the raids by the Congolese army and blue helmets”

But, wait! Just last week, the New York Times said that demobilized ex-combatants from Burundi were going into the DRC to join the FDLR:

According to United Nations and Burundian military officials, Private Mungu is just one of hundreds of former Burundian rebel soldiers who are blazing an illicit trail across rivers and borders to fight for their brethren here in eastern Congo, worsening an already devastating conflict.

So it seems like there might be some cross-border rebel partying going on in Burundi and the DRC, which could be pretty bad.

The completely ineffective military ramp up in the Kivus that tried to quash the FDLR and really just angered them, didn’t stop them or reduce FDLR capacity but instead spread them out in different directions;  some towards Burundi. The disenfranchisement of recently demobilized ex-combatants in Burundi have also pushed opportunistic and excluded ones towards the DRC. And the ‘We’re-Hutu-Rebels’ identity of both the FDLR from the Congo and the FNL from Burundi create a common system of shared values for them to talk about around the camp fire at night.

With a lack of security or effective military, it’s kind of a perfect recipe for a cross-border explosion. That, or new forms of ecotourism in the Kibira Forests of Burundi.

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