Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Old Hatreds Return To The Surface

There's bad news from the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, where fighting between forces to a rebel general and government troops has begun again. The man at the centre of it all is General Laurent Nkunda, and his motivation is firmly linked to the 1994 ethnic genocide in neighbouring Rwanda.

Then, Hutus slaughtered nearly a million Tutsis and moderate Hutus in a still-shocking killing spree lasting just three months. After the defeat of the Hutus, thousands ended up in the DRC, an influx that touched off a war against the new DRC government that ran from 1998 to 2003. General Nkunda fought with the DRC government, but set up his breakaway army of Tutsis in 2004, accusing the government of President Kabila of giving support and preferential treatment to Rwandan Hutus now living in the DRC.

This mess has served to completely undermine the progress made by last year's surprisingly successful elections. Indeed, earlier this year, things had got stable enough for a bizarre row about an imaginary cabinet minister to divert the population. But those hopes seem to have been dashed by the renewed fighting - yet another chapter in the conflict between Hutus and Tutsis. The genocide may have ended 13 years ago, but its devastating effects are still being felt.

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