Congo Watch: October 2009

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Operation Natural Fire 10: Oct. 16-25 joint military exercise in N. Uganda involving about 450 U.S. troops

Here is some news of operation Natural Fire 10, a joint military excercise in northern Uganda involving about 450 U.S. troops.

From Peter Eichstaedt's blog post 12 October 2009 'Boots on the ground':
"... There's an interesting article in The East African, written by Keven Kelley, about the joint military exercise in northern Uganda involving about 450 U.S. troops.

According to Kelley's article, total troops will be about 1,000, with Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi each sending 150 soldiers to join 450 US military personnel in Kitgum for the October 16-25 event.

Labeled as operation Natural Fire 10, it is reportedly the U.S.'s largest African exercise this year. While this is clearly an exercise loaded with significance, it is the not the first such military exercise. Such joint maneuvers began across Africa in 1998, hence the name Natural Fire 10 -- this being the tenth. ..."
Read full story at this blog's sister site Uganda Watch, Saturday, 17 October 2009: Operation Natural Fire 10: Oct. 16-25 joint military exercise in N. Uganda involving about 450 U.S. troops

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Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Africa is focused on prosperity, says Kagame

On September 21, the president of Rwanda Paul Kagame gave a speech at the International Peace Institute in New York in which he said Africa’s own private sector has been gaining strength in the mobile telecommunications that are changing the lives of millions of Africans by increasing access to information, facilitating education, health and trade, reaching into even the remotest villages.

The latest World Bank Group’s “Doing Business” Report shows that Sub-Saharan Africa is reforming at a fast pace, he said noting that Liberia, a recent graduate from conflict, has become the second most active reformer in Sub-Saharan Africa and Sierra Leone.

“On the political and diplomatic front, we have now exchanged ambassadors with the DRC – paving the way for further efforts in the more important realms of economic growth and development – including joint projects in energy, environment, trade and investment,” he said.

Source:   The Independent, Uganda, Tuesday, 6 October 2009 -
Africa is focused on prosperity, says Kagame
On September 21, the president of Rwanda Paul Kagame gave a speech at the International Peace Institute in New York in which he outlined how Africa is “pushing the boundaries of peace, reconciliation and development”.

He said stability, peace, and development make today’s Africa unrecognisable from that of yesteryear.

“Present day preoccupation in Africa revolves around creating prosperity, especially strategies to mitigate the ongoing global economic crisis – including strengthening markets, regional integration, productivity, competitiveness, science, technology and innovation,” he said.

He said this has enabled most African countries to sustain economic growth rates of above 5% before the current global economic crisis, attract bigger volumes of venture and equity capital, a larger share of foreign direct investment, and broaden its sources of trade and investment beyond traditional partners of North America and Western Europe to Asian countries, especially China and India.

The president said more importantly, Africa’s own private sector has been gaining strength in the mobile telecommunications that are changing the lives of millions of Africans by increasing access to information, facilitating education, health and trade, reaching into even the remotest villages.

The latest World Bank Group’s “Doing Business” Report shows that Sub-Saharan Africa is reforming at a fast pace, he said noting that Liberia, a recent graduate from conflict, has become the second most active reformer in Sub-Saharan Africa and Sierra Leone.

“Our country, Rwanda, is identified as the top reformer worldwide, moving from one hundred and forty third position to sixty seventh out of one hundred and eighty three countries,” he said. “With the exception of a few conflict hotspots, Africa is a different place today.”

He said the establishment of the African Union (AU), with a fundamentally different vision and mindset from its predecessor, the Organization of the African Unity (OAU), is indicative of this significant shift.

He described how the AU supports peace operations in Burundi in 2003, in Darfur Sudan in 2004.

Rwanda has participated in African and UN led peace missions in Darfur, where it remains the largest contributor.

Commenting on Rwanda’s neighborhood, President Kagame said together with the Democratic Republic of Congo, “a major breakthrough towards extending the boundaries of peace” has been achieved in a conflict that has roots in colonial and post-colonial history, whose current manifestation arose in mid-1994 when the government that committed genocide in Rwanda fled – with all its institutions and a hostage population of three million – into what was then Zaire.

“Regrettably, the “definition” of this problem kept changing in the minds of the international community – resulting in delaying the closure of this chapter of misery and havoc,” he said.

Initially, he said, the issue was about caring for the millions of refugees in camps in Eastern Zaire without a willingness to separate genuine refugees from the genocidal forces.

He said Rwanda’s intervention brought about another distorted definition of the problem – Rwanda was now accused of exploiting DRC’s natural resources employing the pretext of hunting genocide perpetrators.

“Numerous reports on this subject were written by the `experts’ – all of them were false and were not worthy of the resources and time spent on them,” he said.

“The question I always ask is this: if in real fact Rwanda does not have the technical capacity to exploit our own mineral resources, how can we take advantage of those in DRC – a country like many others in Africa that have not fully utilized these resources for decades for their own advancement?” he said.

He said Rwanda’s developmental achievements since 1994 are not based on illegal exploitation of the resources of another country.

“We are steadily improving the lives of our people because Rwanda is making all the effort to build a nation of laws, and institutions that promote security, peace, reconciliation and development,” he said, “We are painstakingly building the confidence of domestic and foreign investors to put their money into our hotels, energy projects, agriculture, construction industry, and ICT, on the basis of transparent governance and predictability.”

The president said a stable, peaceful and more integrated sub-region enhances these objectives.

He described how, in 2002, the United Nations asked Rwanda to withdraw from the DRC and set up MONUC, a peace keeping mission of 17,000 “at a very high price without corresponding results”.

“The genocidal forces continued to operate, destabilizing both the host country and Rwanda,” he said.

He said the situation only changed fundamentally when Rwanda and the DRC undertook a joint military operation that weakened the command and control structure of these forces, repatriated nearly 1,000 combatants and over 5,000 civilians to Rwanda, thus raising confidence at leadership and citizen levels for further collaboration.

“On the political and diplomatic front, we have now exchanged ambassadors with the DRC – paving the way for further efforts in the more important realms of economic growth and development – including joint projects in energy, environment, trade and investment,” he said.

He thanked many global leaders, including the United Nations secretary general, for their support but restated that “today’s Africa is increasingly one that seeks its own solutions as well as a different relationship with the international community – one based on mutual respect, trust, and a collaborative outlook.”

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