THE PLANK JANUARY 23, 2009
Provisionally excellent news. In December, TNR's editors wrote that the newest round of fighting in Congo would not end until a mission was launched to "kill or capture" the leaders of the FDLR--a rebel group whose members committed the Rwandan genocide, and whose continued presence has been the root cause of Congo's wars. TNR also advocated a political settlement between the Rwandan and Congolese governments, in which Rwanda would agree to curb its proxy, rebel leader Laurent Nkunda.
It looks like we got our wish. According to the Center For American Progress's John Prendergast, "Rwanda and Congo have cut a deal" in which Rwanda will be able to enter Congo and hunt down the FDLR. In exchange, Rwanda has agreed on a joint effort to apprehend Laurent Nkunda, and last night he was placed under arrest.
This dramatic bargain won't guarantee an end to Congo's "world wars," which have claimed well over five million lives since 1994. Underlying issues, such as land reform and the status of Congo's ethnic Tutsis, will need to be resolved in this new political space. But--provided that Rwanda succeeds at its mission--it could do more to alter the dynamic of recurrent violence than any settlement in recent memory. And it is a long-overdue step toward redressing the evils of the Rwandan genocide.