Last week, the BBC reported Rwandan forces finally captured Laurent Nkunda, alleged orchestrator of  recent mass killings and civil strife in the Democratic Republic of Congo since 2002. Last DecembGeneral Nkundaer Rwanda’s government surrendered to international pressure, finally sending in troops to bring down Hutu rebels led by Laurent Nkunda.

While Nkanda’s arrest is an ostensibly positive development, it does not connote the dawning of a new era of peace and stability for Central Africa and especially the DRC. The world’s major powers must continue to exert diplomatic pressure on Rwanda and ensure that it does not continue its damaging presence in Eastern Congo under the pretense of capturing Hutu rebels responsible for the Rwandan genocide.

The Obama administration appears to be pursuing policies of aggressive diplomacy across the globe. But just as recently as early January 2009, the United States government (albeit under the Bush administration) delivered military equipment to Rwanda for purported peacekeeping in Western Sudan. The United States must discontinue these outdated and politically expedient acts of militarization and join the ranks of European countries like the Netherlands and Sweden to relinquish all forms of aid to Rwanda.

Should the United States remain complicit in this mounting Central African conflict and maintain its friendly relations with Rwanda, it could indirectly fuel rekindling of the brutal wars that plagued the DRC during the 1990s. A covert deal signed by the Congolese President (without the consent of the Congolese legislature or people) and the Rwandan government allowed Rwandan troops inside the DRC in December. Now that Nkunda has been captured, the international community must hold Rwanda accountable and immediately push the country to withdraw its forces.

Bloggers at the website Friends of the Congo astutely unveil the flawed logic of allowing Rwandan troops in DRC territory to capture “Hutu rebels”. Was it not the Rwandans who had invaded the DRC in the ’90s, robbing the poor republic of its mineral wealth and fueling a proxy war with Uganda, under the same defense of capturing Hutu Rebels?

It is my sincere hope to see a President with such strong roots in Africa to once and for all propel a United States policy which promotes human rights and sustainable economic development in Africa, rather than short-sighted amassment of wealth and resources coupled with long-term militarization, forced migration, refugee-crises, and destabilizing warfare.

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