Rwandan diplomacy on the edge of the abyss

By The Rwandan Analyst

These days, with the presence of the Rwandan army in the east of the DRC where, under cover of the M23 rebellion, a dozen towns and villages have been besieged, causing the displacement of the population, Rwanda is striving to demonstrate his neutrality but his denials do not hold because all the evidence, both material and scientific, overwhelms him in full view of the international community. This article analyzes the impact that this uncomfortable situation may have on the governance of this country haunted by belligerent tendencies.

1. Prevailing situation

The “greed model” is often used as an explanatory system for a conflict of the type that prevails in the Great Lakes. According to this model, the export of minerals increases, in a given territory, the risk of war in four ways: it allows the financing of rebels and weapons, it aggravates the corruption of the administration, it creates incentives for secession or balkanization, and it increases the vulnerability of the population to exogenous shocks.

The existence of economic roots to the situation of violence that prevails in eastern Congo has been proven by numerous reports. They still have to find favorable soil: a “failed” state, marked by the deficit of past and current governance, endowed with an incomplete and precarious democracy and which, moreover, suffers from the “curse of raw materials “, that is to say a non-productive use of its natural resources. The large size of the Congo – 2,345,409 km2, four times the size of France – also plays a role: rebel movements can operate with relative ease in regions far from central power, landlocked by the lack of infrastructure especially roads.

Rwanda is, for its part, a small country, which has 11 million inhabitants on an area of ​​barely 26,338 km2, devoid of coastline, mining and oil resources, exporting only coffee and tea. Reports by UN experts still regularly recall his systematic and permanent responsibility for the looting of Congolese resources. The latest report dates from January 2014 and clearly calls into question, on the one hand, the support of Rwanda to the rebel forces of the M23 and, on the other hand, the fraudulent transits of coltan and tin via Kigali. In January 2014, taking advantage of his status as a member of the Council…. The two observations are not explicitly linked, but the step is taken by most analysts, such as Pierre Péan, who takes large extracts from the reports to demonstrate the abusive exploitation of which the Congo has been a victim for twenty years.

Since 2010, the export of minerals (cassiterite, coltan and tungsten) has become Rwanda’s primary source of foreign exchange, surpassing the export of tea for the first time. In 2013, minerals accounted for 28% of total exports.

However, Rwanda does not have deposits of sufficient size to provide such production. In fact, for years minerals from the Congo crossed the border to be tagged in Rwanda. Once put in barrels and loaded into a small plane connecting with Goma, they are mostly transferred to Kigali, a traffic hub, where they can find legality by becoming, after an initial processing, a “made in Rwanda product”. The Rwandan corridor then leads to Mombasa and Dar es-Salaam, to continue towards Europe, the United Arab Emirates and, above all, Asia. All the constituent elements of a true “model” of war economy are brought together in the Great Lakes: a mining revenue that is easy to develop with low industrial investment – ​​but with high security costs –, a labor available and easy to exploit, an efficient commercial network, a simple mode of accumulation based on an elementary financial system, an internationalized network for the sale of minerals and another for the supply of arms.


1) Proven aggression

Having taken the label of M23, the Rwandan army is in the DRC and intends to stay there to replenish the stock of natural resources which was beginning to run out. Kanombe Military Hospital where ambulances transporting them abound day by day; the hospital wards are overcrowded but it is strictly forbidden to use civil hospitals for fear of revealing the identity of patients, told us a medical officer working there. In addition, the relatives of the victims can no longer keep their suffering secret and end up sharing it with the neighbors. What is more, the inhabitants of the Rwandan-Congolese land border witness daily the movement of Rwandan military convoys to the Kamuhanga posts going to Congolese soil with heavy weapons and ammunition.

2) unveiled looting

During the two wars of the Congo, Rwanda amassed minerals coming from the basement of the DRC until becoming the first exporter of diamonds and coltan while its soil does not contain any. The generals who participated in this military expedition erected storey mansions in the capital, especially in the upscale neighborhoods of Kagarama; Nyarutarama; Kagugu; Kibagabaga and Kimironko. The Rwandan prisoners who were employed in the extraction of these precious materials testify to this with geographical details without equivocal.

3) Human rights issue

The violation of the fundamental rights of Rwandan citizens at the internal level and even abroad is no longer to be demonstrated. Political opponents imprisoned by a judicial system without independence in facade trials; murdered by unidentified people; murders disguised as suicide; the number of victims of the Kigali regime grows crescendo until it revolts the whole world in the face of the terror inspired by the intelligence service of Rwanda for which all means are permitted (kidnapping of dissidents-the case of Rusesabagina Paul is the most recent-decapitation; poisoning; resort to hitmen; etc. Instituted social inequalities where recruitment of personnel to better paying positions is based on nepotism; bribes; sexual favors. Business is monopolized by RPF companies which seize all public markets and impoverish other traders by infiltrating their businesses.

4) Governance litigation

Even if Rwanda is flaunting its economic miracle through false marketing despite the famine that has been gnawing at its citizens for decades, the international community is aware that it is governed by a dictator who has manipulated the constitution via a referendum charade to remove the limiting presidential terms and thus staying in power for life; slyly dismissing any dissident who dared to oppose it (Karugarama Tarcisse; Gasana Eugene Richard; Mitali Protais; to name a few).

5) DRC Opportunities

The DRC has three advantages that it will have to exploit to get out of insecurity and the looting of its resources that result from it. On the one hand, it has succeeded in establishing the support of the Rwandan army for the M23 rebellion which is its creation given that it is made up of Rwandan soldiers who evolved in the DRC in other words former Rwandan refugees of 1959 who had returned to the country in 199; reason for which we find there the bagogwe of Masisi; Jomba and Rutchuru. Clarification as to Rwanda’s support for the rebels in human and logistical resources has been proven thanks to the prisoners of war captured on the battlefield; to the witnesses who saw the Rwandan troops crossing the Rwandan-Congolese border and to the satellite photos which geolocated the crossing points of the Rwandan battalions as well as the interception of military orders emanating from the general staff of the Rwandan defense forces. On the other hand, the DRC is now a member state of the East African Community states and this has enabled it to convince the other member countries to decide on a sub-regional intervention of their armies apart from the Rwandan army. Moreover, the fact that for the moment the DRC holds the presidency of the Southern African Development Community will facilitate the deployment of the armed forces of the member countries which had driven out this rebellion in the past.


The DRC is losing battles against Rwandan forces disguised as M23 rebels but not the war until the whole world has finally identified the real aggressor and that his real intentions which are more economic than political. Not intending to occupy all of the DRC and place its own leader there, Rwanda finds interest in destabilizing some regions where it will not miss what it is looking for, namely minerals. The leaders of the DRC do not know well but without hardened soldiers, the diplomacy on the rise will be able to attract them rescuers from all sides who will drive out this fierce neighbor once for all.