DRC: Waiting for the Invasion

Rwandan President Paul Kagame (left) and Congolese President Joseph Kabila (right). Image by Radio Okapi on Flickr.

The Congolese Ambassador to the UN just told the Security Council that Rwanda invaded eastern Congo last night, and the Rwandan army is waiting along the border outside Goma, ready to take the town over. Here in Goma, where we can see Rwanda across Lake Kivu, and live about a five minute walk from the border, we're drinking tea.

Blaming Rwanda is a fallback tactic for the Congolese government and army when things go wrong. It inflames nationalist sentiment and brings up memories of past Rwandan invasions; this has the added effect of turning the population against Kinyarwanda speakers in the east, particularly against Tutsis. There may be some truth to it this time - the RDF is not at the border waiting to get in (I was back and forth over the border a few times this weekend). But it wouldn't be out of the question for small groups of RDF soldiers to cross the border to help the CNDP. Of course, as one prominent former gov't minister told me yesterday, "So what, Rwanda sends a battalion. DRC has 8 brigades here. It shouldn't be a fight."