Africas Great Lakes Region: Current Conditions in Burundi, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Rwanda, and Uganda
CRS Report for Congress
Africa’s Great Lakes Region: Current Conditions
in Burundi, Democratic Republic of the Congo,
Rwanda, and Uganda
October 28, 2003
Specialist in International Relations
Foreign Affairs, Defense, and Trade Division
Foreign Affairs, Defense, and Trade Division
Congressional Research Service ˜ The Library of Congress
Africa’s Great Lakes Region: Current Conditions
in Burundi, Democratic Republic of the Congo,
Rwanda, and Uganda
The Great Lakes region is slowly becoming more stable after almost a decade
of conflicts. The region remains vulnerable, however, since armed rebel groups are
active in eastern Congo, Burundi, Rwanda and northern Uganda.
In Burundi, after a decade of conflict, prospects for a lasting peace appear
promising. On August 28, 2000, a partial agreement was reached in Arusha,
Tanzania, signed by 14 parties, seven Hutu and seven Tutsi. Twenty heads of state
were at this meeting, including then President Clinton. In early 2001, the parties had
reached agreement on a transitional government, but the armed groups rejected the
deal. A transitional government, consisting of all Arusha-participant parties, was
formed in November 2001, with President Pierre Buyoya as interim head of state for
18 months. The transitional regime has had limited success thus far, but serious
In the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), significant progress has been
made in recent months and the transition program seems to be moving forward. In
December 2002, the Inter-Congolese Dialogue achieved a major breakthrough when
President Joseph Kabila and the parties to the conflict agreed to a transitional
government. The Agreement was signed in Pretoria, South Africa by the DRC
government, the Congolese Democratic Rally (RCD-Goma), the Movement for the
Congolese Liberation (MLC), and representatives of the unarmed political groups.
The agreement calls for a two-year transition period headed by President Kabila and
four Vice Presidents. The new government was sworn in July 2003.
Rwanda held its first multi party elections in August 2003, almost ten years after
the 1994 genocide. President Paul Kagame won 95% of the votes, while his nearest
rival, Faustin Twagiramungu, received 3.6% of the votes cast. In the legislative
elections, the ruling Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) won 73% of the 80-seat National
Assembly, while the remaining seats went to RPF allies and former coalition
partners. The European Union Observer Mission stated that the elections were
marred by irregularities and intimidation of opposition candidates were widespread.
Rwandan government officials dismissed the EU charges, arguing that the elections
reflected the wishes of the people.
In Uganda, President Yoweri Museveni continues to dominate the political
scene. In March 2001, he was re-elected for a second term. In March 2003,
President Museveni suggested to his National Executive Committee, the leadership
organ of the National Resistance Movement (NRM), that the party should consider
lifting the ban on a multi-party system. Museveni is being criticized by the opposition
and the international community for his efforts to overturn the two-term limit in the
Constitution in order to run in 2006 when his second term expires. Meanwhile, the
situation in northern Uganda continues to deteriorate with indiscriminate attacks
against civilians by the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA). This report will be updated
as events warrant.
Bu rundi .........................................................1
The Peace Process.............................................3
Developments in 1999-2003.....................................3
The Transitional Period.........................................4
The Role of the African Union (AU)...............................5
Democratic Republic of the Congo....................................6
Current Political Conditions....................................12
Rwanda in DRC..............................................14
The 2001 Presidential and Parliamentary Elections...................16
Instability in Northern Uganda...................................17
The Rwanda-Uganda Conflict: Background........................18
List of Figures
Figure 1. Burundi..................................................1
Figure 2. Democratic Republic of the Congo............................6
Figure 3. Rwanda.................................................11
Figure 4. Uganda.................................................15
Africa’s Great Lakes Region:
Current Conditions in
Burundi, Democratic Republic of the Congo,
Rwanda, and Uganda
Figure 1. Burundi
After independence from Belgium in 1962, Burundi was largely dominated by
the Tutsi-led military and political establishment. In June 1993, however, Major
Pierre Buyoya, who came to power in a bloodless coup in September 1987, accepted
his defeat by Melchior Ndadaye, a Hutu, in a multi-party election that he had called.
However, the transfer of power to a Hutu-led government embittered many Tutsi,
who represent 14% of the population, while the Hutu are about 85%; and a long
period of instability ensued. Ndadaye attempted to implement a number of important
changes in local government, to build a multi-ethnic cabinet coalition, and to increase
diversity in the army. Opposing these changes, a small group of Tutsi army officers
attempted a military putsch in October 1993, assassinating Ndadaye along with
several of his ministers.
Burundi at a Glance
!Population: 6 million
!Independence: 1962 from UN trusteeship under Belgium
!Area: Slightly smaller than Maryland
!Ethnicity: 85% Hutu, 14% Tutsi, 1% other
!Religions: 62% Catholic, 5% Protestant, 23% indigenous, 10% Muslim
!Languages: Kirundi (official), French (official), Swahili
!GDP: $38 billion (2002)
!GDP per capita: $600 (2002)
!Exports: $26 million (2002)
!Imports: $135 million (2002)
!External Debt: $1.14 billion (2001)
!Adult HIV/AIDS Prevalence Rate: 8.3% (2001 est.)
CIA World Factbook, 2003
The putsch failed, but sparked ethnic violence in which an estimated 100,000
people, mostly Tutsis, were killed. In late January 1994, Cyprien Ntaryamira, a Hutu
and former Minister of Agriculture, was elected president by the National Assembly.
In April 1994, Ntaryamira was killed along with the President of Rwanda when the
plane they were sharing was shot down over the airport at Kigali, the capital of
Rwanda. Burundi authorities temporarily avoided a major political crisis by
confirming Sylvester Ntibantunganya as an interim president, and later president. In
late July 1996, a group of Tutsi extremists attacked the President's motorcade at the
funeral for 350 Tutsis killed by Hutu rebels, and the President sought refuge at the1
U.S. ambassador's residence, fearing for his life.
On July 25, 1996, the Burundi army seized power and appointed former military
leader Pierre Buyoya as head of the military junta. Internal peace negotiations began
in late 1997, leading to the Internal Partnership for Peace and a new transitional
constitution. Buyoya was sworn in as transitional president in June 1998, two days
after signing into law the new transitional constitution designed to pave the way for
a power-sharing government. In the transitional constitution, the position of prime
minister was split into two vice presidential positions to be filled by one Tutsi and
one Hutu. The National Assembly was expanded from 80 to 121 members in order
to accommodate opposition parties and regional interests. But violence continued and
Hutu armed groups intensified their attacks in Burundi. Regional leaders launched
a peace process to bring an end to the violence that was threatening regional stability.
1 The former president left the residence after several months and became politically active
as one of the leaders of Frodebu.
The Peace Process
The former President of Tanzania, Julius Nyerere, was appointed to be the
principal mediator in the Burundi peace process at a regional meeting in 1995, and
the decision was later approved by the Organization of African Unity (OAU).
Nyerere held this position until his death in October 1999. In July 1998, seventeen
factions, including the government, Frodebu (Hutu-dominated political party), and
Uprona (Tutsi-dominated political party) all signed a cease-fire agreement. The
agreement fixed the length of negotiations at three months and foresaw the creation
of commissions responsible for negotiating issues related to the establishment of a
democratic, power-sharing government. Talks began on July 21, 1998, in Arusha,
Tanzania and lasted for ten days, focusing predominantly on the rules of procedure
and debate on the root cause of the problem in Burundi. Discussions resumed behind
closed doors in Arusha in mid-October 1998, and delegates and the mediators
established four sub-committees to address four issues agreed to earlier: the nature
of the conflict, institutions and good governance, security, and economic
reconstruction. The Arusha peace talks initially excluded several armed factions,
including the Front for the Defense of Democracy (FDD—Hutu armed faction), a
splinter group from the National Council for the Defense of Democracy (CNDD).
The FDD and the Forces for National Liberation (FNL Hutu armed faction), another
rebel group, refused to honor the ceasefire agreement as long as they were excluded.
Developments in 1999-2003
Burundi: Political and Armed Groups
Unity for National Progress (UPRONA) (Tutsi-dominated).
Leader: Alphonse Kadege
Burundi Democratic Front (FRODEBU) (Hutu-dominated).
Leader: Jean Minani
Burundi African Alliance for Salvation (ABASA).
Leader: Terrence Nsanze
Rally for Democracy and Economic and Social Development (RADDES).
Leader: Joseph Nzeyimana
Party for National Redress (PARENA) (Tutsi-Dominated).
Leader: Jean-Baptiste Bagaza
People’s Reconciliation Party (PRP).
Leader: Mathias Hitimana
Front for the Defense of Democracy (FDD)—Armed Hutu group.
Leader: Pierre Nkurunziza
Forces for National Liberation (FNL)-Armed Hutu group.
Leader: Agathon Rwasa
In 1999, shortly after Nyerere died former South African President Nelson
Mandela was selected as the new facilitator. In July and August 2000, a regional
summit was held in Arusha, under the chairmanship of Mandela, in an attempt at
forging a peace agreement. Mandela called for the closing of “regroupment camps,”2
when Hutu civilians near the capital were being relocated, by the end of July and set
a deadline of August 28, 2000 for the signing of a ceasefire agreement. On August
28, a partial agreement was reached in Arusha, and was signed by 14 parties, seven
Hutu and seven Tutsi. The FDD and FNL did not sign these accords. Twenty heads
of state were at this meeting, including then President Clinton. The agreement called
for a transitional government and the creation of a new upper house of parliament
whose makeup would be 50% Hutu and 50% Tutsi. The deal also called for the
integration of Hutus into the military; a heretofore Tutsi-dominated force and the
creation of a transitional government until elections are held in three years.
The Transitional Period
In early 2001, the civilian parties reached agreement on a transitional
government, but the armed groups rejected the deal. A transitional government,
consisting of all Arusha-participant parties, was formed in November 2001, with
President Pierre Buyoya as interim head of state for 18 months. The Hutu-dominated
political grouping known as G-7 nominated Domitien Ndayizeye, a Hutu, as Vice
President for 18 months. In early December 2002, the Transitional government
signed a cease-fire agreement with the FDD, the main Hutu rebel group, although
factions of the FDD and FNL continue to attack government forces. In April 2003,
Vice President Ndayizeye assumed the presidency as had been agreed upon in
Tanzania, under the Arusha plan. President Ndayizeye will serve in that capacity
through November 2004, and hand over the presidency to a democratically elected
government. He faces enormous challenges, including securing a ceasefire
agreement with the armed factions, preparing the country for multi-party elections,
and improving economic and social conditions for the people of Burundi.3 The
international community has welcomed the Transitional government, and in
December 2001 international donors promised Burundi’s Transitional government
$764 million in aid. In fiscal year 2003 (to date), the United States, Burundi’s largest
bilateral donor, has provided an estimated $17 million in humanitarian assistance and
$4 million in development assistance.
In early July 2003, a six-month-old ceasefire between the government of
Burundi and the FDD ended when FNL rebels, led by Agathon Rwasa, and assisted
by FDD rebels, attacked the Tutsi-led army in Bujumbura. Due to the occasional
indiscriminate shelling of the capital by FNL rebels, the United Nations and the U.S.
Department of State have ordered non-essential staff out of Burundi. The fighting
has also displaced tens of thousands of civilians from their homes. The United
Nations and the government of Burundi estimate that there are 800,000 internally
displaced people (IDPs).4 Most of these people have been unable to return to their
2 Beginning in late 1999, the government of Burundi began forcing civilians into these
regroupment camps around Bujumbura, allegedly to protect the civilian population from
3 Author’s (Dagne) interview with President Ndayizeye, September 2003, Washington, D.C.
4 The Economist Intelligence Unit. “Burundi Politics: Rebels Demand Mr. Ndayizeye’s
homes because of continued fighting and due to the destruction of their homes. In
July 2003, an estimated 65,000 people were displaced in Kayanza province in the
northern part of the country, near the Rwandan border. In mid-September 2003,
negotiations, organized by leaders from South Africa, Tanzania, and Uganda,
collapsed after the FNL rejected a power-sharing proposal by the government.5 In
early October 2003, the FDD and the government of Burundi met under the auspices
of the South African government. The parties signed a ceasefire agreement after three
days of talks. According to the agreement, the FDD will get four ministries, 15
parliamentary seats, two ambassadorships, 40% of the army officer slots, and 35%
of the police force.
The Role of the African Union (AU)
Since the early 1990s, the African Union (AU), which succeeded the OAU, has
been actively engaged in peacemaking in Burundi. In April 2003, the African Union
began to deploy the African Mission in Burundi (AMIB). The 3,099-strong force at
full strength will consist of 1,600 troops from South Africa, 1,300 from Ethiopia,
and 290 from Mozambique.6 As of mid-September 2003, only the South African
troops were fully deployed. South African and AU officials have expressed concern
about lack of funding for the African peacekeeping force. The overall commander
of AMIB is General Sipho Binda of the South African National Defense Force
(SANDF) and his deputy is Geberat Ayale of Ethiopia. The AMIB’s mandate
includes overseeing the demobilization and cantonment of rebel forces. In July 2003,
an estimated 150 rebel fighters belonging to CNDD-FDD arrived at a cantonment site
in Bubanza province. Some observers have noted that some of these rebel fighters
arrive at the cantonment sites without their weapons, raising questions about their
claims of being rebel fighters. South African officials are concerned about the slow
pace of demobilization of rebel groups and warned that “African Union peacekeeping
troops will only deploy all of their contingents when the number of rebel combatants
reporting to cantonment centers increases significantly.”7
The transition has had limited success thus far, but serious challenges remain.
Sporadic fighting still continues between government forces and Hutu rebels. The
FNL, a Hutu rebel group, has not signed a ceasefire agreement with the government
and some Tutsi extremists continue to undermine the Transitional government.
Disarmament and reintegration have been slow. There is also fear that the Tutsi-
dominated military may intervene and take over power. Some observers, however,
are cautiously optimistic that despite some difficulties the peace agreement can be
Resignation.” September 10, 2003.
5 Dow Jones International News. “Summit Talks On Burundi’s Peace Process Break
Down.” September 16, 2003.
6 All Africa. “South Africa Is Making Relative Progress in Burundi.” September 10, 2003.
7 All Africa. “Mozambique, South Africa Set Conditions for Full Deployment of
Peacekeepers.” September 12, 2003.
sustained. They argue that the recent ceasefire agreement between the main rebel
group, FDD, and the government is seen as an important step in the right direction;
the signatories of the Arusha Agreement are still committed to the peace agreement;
and the international community appears committed to peace in Burundi. Moreover,
the recent peace agreement in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and relative
stability in neighboring Rwanda could help the situation in Burundi.
Democratic Republic of the Congo
Figure 2. Democratic Republic of the Congo
The Democratic Republic of the Congo, formerly Zaire, has been in political
turmoil for years. In May 1997, the Alliance of the Democratic Forces for the
Liberation of Congo-Zaire (AFDL), with the support of Rwanda and Uganda,
marched into Kinshasa and ousted longtime dictator Mobutu Sese Seko. Within one
year, tensions between President Laurent Kabila and his Rwandan and Ugandan allies
began to mount. By August 1998, open conflict erupted between Kabila and
Congolese forces supported by Rwanda. Angola, Namibia, and Zimbabwe joined the
fighting in support of Kabila.
In July 1999, at a summit in Lusaka, Zambia, the leaders of Uganda, Rwanda,
Democratic Republic of the Congo, Zimbabwe, Namibia, and Angola signed a peace
agreement. The agreement called for a cease-fire within 24 hours of the signing of
the agreement. Nonetheless, both sides to the conflict consistently violated the
ceasefire agreement. The Lusaka Accords established a joint military commission
(JMC) to investigate cease-fire violations and to disarm militia groups. The
withdrawal of foreign forces from Democratic Republic of the Congo was one of the
key elements of the Lusaka Accords. The Accords also called for political dialogue
among Congolese political and armed groups to settle their differences peacefully
and to map out a new political chapter for Democratic Republic of the Congo. The
former president of Botswana, Sir Ketumile Masire, was appointed to facilitate the
The Accords called for the deployment of U.N. military observers, and in
August 1999, the United Nations Security Council authorized the deployment of 90
United Nations military liaison personnel to the DRC. In November 1999, Security
Council Resolution 1279 affirmed that the previously authorized United Nations
personnel would constitute the United Nations Organization Mission in the DRC
(MONUC). In July 2003, the Council authorized an increase of MONUC forces to
10,800 troops. MONUC is mandated through July 2004 (U.N. Security Council
Resolution 1493), to monitor the ceasefire agreement to verify disengagement of
forces, to facilitate humanitarian assistance, and to oversee disarmament and
demobilization of combatants. The operation is authorized under Chapter VII of the
United Nations Chapter, which allows peacekeepers to use force, if necessary, to
carry out their mandate. As of August 2003, an estimated 8,045 U.N. military
personnel, including 555 military observers have been deployed to DRC. French-led
multi-national peacekeeping troops, which arrived at the end of May 2003 to secure
areas in the northeast of the country, withdrew in September 2003 from the DRC.
This European force, dubbed “Artemis,” was incrementally replaced by a 3,800
multinational MONUC force from Asia and South Africa, mostly composed of
Bangladeshi and Pakistani troops.
DRC at a Glance
!Population: 56.6 million
!Independence: 1960 from Belgium
!Area: Slightly less than one-fourth the size of the US
!Ethnicity: Over 200 ethnic groups, majority Bantu
!Religions: 50% Catholic, 20% Protestant, 10% Kimbanguist (Syncretic),
10% Muslim, 10% other/indigenous
!Languages: French (official)
!GDP: $34 billion (2002)
!GDP per capita: $610 (2002)
!Exports: $1.2 billion (2002)
!Imports: $890 million (2002)
!External Debt: $12.9 billion (2000)
!Adult HIV/AIDS Prevalence Rate: 4.9% (2001 est.)
CIA World Factbook, 2003
The peace process in the Democratic Republic of the Congo began to move
forward shortly after the still unresolved assassination of President Kabila in January
2001. He was considered by some observers as a major obstacle to a negotiated
settlement. Kabila refused to recognize the facilitator of the Inter-Congolese
Dialogue, Masire, repeatedly violated the ceasefire agreement, and demanded the
withdrawal of Rwanda and Uganda from Democratic Republic of the Congo. Kabila
was succeeded by his son, Joseph, who removed most of the obstacles put forth by
his father and helped expedite the implementation of the Accords. President Joseph
Kabila took a number of important steps shortly after taking power, giving hope for
a negotiated settlement of the Democratic Republic of the Congo conflict. He met
with Masire in Kinshasa, and promised to support the Inter-Congolese Dialogue. In
August 2001, after a long delay, Congolese political and rebel groups, including
government representatives, met in Botswana and laid the ground work for talks.
President Kabila also facilitated the deployment of United Nations peacekeeping
troops and relaxed restrictions on political activity in Democratic Republic of the
By late 2002, after a series of South African-U.N.-sponsored talks, foreign
troops in DRC withdrew their forces, although some Ugandan and Zimbabwean
troops remained, in part with the consent of the Kabila government. In December
2002, the Inter-Congolese Dialogue achieved a major breakthrough when President
Kabila and the parties to the conflict agreed to a transitional government. The All-
Inclusive Agreement was signed in Pretoria, South Africa by the DRC government,
Congolese Democratic Rally (RCD-Goma), the Movement for the Congolese
Liberation (MLC), and representatives of the unarmed political groups.
DRC Armed and Civilian Groups
Party for Reconciliation and Development (PPRD).
Leader: President Kabila
Congolese Rally for Democracy-Goma (RCD-Goma).
Affiliation: Pro-Rwanda-East Congo
Leader: Adolphe Onusumba
Congolese Rally for Democracy-Liberation Movement (RCD-ML).
Affiliation: Pro-Uganda/Split from RCD in 1999.
Leader: Mbusa Nyamwisi
Congolese Rally for Democracy-National (RCD-N).
Affiliation: Ituri Province-based
Leader: Roger Lumbala
Congolese Liberation Movement (MLC)
Affiliation: Pro-Uganda/Equateur Province
Leader: Jean-Pierre Bemba
Union for Democratic and Social Progress (UDPS).
Leader: Etienne Tshisekedi
Mai Mai Militia.
Affiliation: Generally Pro-government
Leader: No clear leadership; Anselme Enerunga is Minister of Environment in the current
go ve r nme nt .
The agreement calls for a two-year transition headed by President Kabila and
four Vice Presidents, who will be in charge of four commissions: the Political
Commission, headed by Azarias Ruberwa of RCD Goma; the Economic and Finance
Commission, headed by Jean Pierre-Bemba of the MLC; the Reconstruction and
Development Commission, headed by Abdoulaye Yerodia Ndombasi from the DRC
government; and the Social and Cultural Commission, headed by Arthur Z’Ahidi
Ngoma, representing the unarmed opposition political groups. In July 2003, these
four Vice Presidents were sworn, and the event was considered by some observers
to be an historic step towards peace in the DRC.
The cabinet consists of 36 ministers and 25 deputy ministers. The parties also
agreed on a bicameral parliament, consisting of a 500-member National Assembly,
whose president was chosen from the MLC and a 120-member Senate, whose8
president was chosen from civil society. In late August 2003, the National
Assembly had its inaugural session and agreed to focus on three priority areas: the
government budget, laws governing political parties, and amnesty. Moreover, civil
society groups were given responsibilities to chair several independent institutions
on democracy, human rights, and electoral commission, as part of the December
Accords. They also agreed on final transitional arrangements, including the
deployment of international monitors to provide protection during the transitional
President Kabila and the armed opposition appear pleased with the transitional9
arrangement, although they acknowledge that there are difficult challenges ahead.
One of the most thorny issues they must deal with is the reintegration of the various
8 The Economist Intelligence Unit, September 22, 2003.
9 Author’s interview with several senior government and former rebel officials in Kinshasa
and Goma, August 2003.
armed groups. The armed parties agreed to merge their respective armies with the
national army. In August 2003, after weeks of contentious debates, the parties agreed
on a formula that seem to satisfy all sides, giving senior posts to both government
and rebel commanders. However, when the reintegration of the various armed
groups would be completed is not entirely clear. Jean Pierre Ondekane of RCD-
Goma was chosen as Minister of Defense, while Lt. General Liwanga Maata, former
Navy Chief of Staff under Laurent Kabila was named Chief of Staff of the Armed
Forces, and General Sylvain Buki of RCD-Goma was picked as Army Commander.
The poor economic conditions in the DRC after years of conflict are another
challenge the new government faces.
Figure 3. Rwanda
Rwanda, a landlocked nation of slightly smaller size than Maryland, is one of
the poorest in sub-Saharan Africa. The population is largely comprised of two ethnic
groups, the Tutsis (about 14%), who had been the dominant political and economic
force until 1961, and the majority Hutu (about 85%), who took power at
independence. For decades, Rwanda suffered from periodic ethnic clashes in which
hundreds of thousands died. In 1990, the Tutsi-led Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF)
launched a military offensive from Uganda against government troops inside
Rwanda. Government forces were able to repel the RPF and forced it to retreat into
the mountains. After several failed efforts, the RPF and the government of Rwanda
reached an agreement in Tanzania, referred to as the Arusha Peace Accords.
In early April 1994, the Presidents of Rwanda and Burundi along with several
senior government officials, were killed when their plane was shot down as it
approached the capital of Rwanda, Kigali. Shortly after, the Rwandan military and
Hutu militia began to systematically massacre Tutsis and moderate Hutu opposition
members. In the first ten weeks of the Rwandan genocide, an estimated 500,000-
1,000,000 people, mostly Tutsis, were slaughtered by government forces and the
Interhamwe militia. Millions of Hutu refugees fled to neighboring Democratic
Republic of the Congo (then Zaire) after RPF troops took control in Kigali and
ousted the Hutu government in July 1994. In 1996, most of the refugees returned
home after RPF troops attacked militias and former Rwandan government troops
inside Democratic Republic of the Congo. The Rwandan intervention in Democratic
Republic of the Congo led to the ouster of the Mobutu regime. President Laurent
Kabila became president of Democratic Republic of the Congo with the help of the
RPF-led government of Rwanda and Uganda. However, violence related to the
Rwanda upheaval continued in Democratic Republic of the Congo for much of the
late 1990s. Rwanda is still very divided along ethnic lines, and the 1994 genocide is
fresh in the minds of many survivors and perpetrators. However, resentment among
the majority Hutu population toward the Tutsi appears to have decreased in part due
to reconciliation efforts by the government. In 2000, the Hutu president and a
leading figure of the ruling RPF, President Pasteur Bizimungu, resigned in protest
of “Tutsi domination” in government. But Bizimungu has not been able to garner
support for his cause. In April 2000, one month after President Bizimungu resigned,
General Kagame, who had served as Defense Minister and Vice President since July
Rwanda at a Glance
!Population: 7.8 million
!Independence: 1962 from U.N. trusteeship under Belgium
!Area: Slightly smaller than Maryland
!Ethnicity: Hutu 84%, Tutsi 15%, Twa (Pygmoid) 1%
!Religions: 56.5% Catholic, 26% Protestant, 11.1% Adventist, 4.6%
Muslim, 2% none or other
!Languages: Kinyarwanda (official), French (official), English (official),
!GDP: $9 billion (2002)
!GDP per capita: $1,200 (2002)
!Exports: $68 million (2002)
!Imports: $253 million (2002)
!External Debt: $1.3 billion (2000)
!Adult HIV/AIDS Prevalence Rate: 8.9% (2001 est.)
CIA World Factbook, 2003
Current Political Conditions
In March 2001, Rwanda held its first local elections in over 30 years. The
turnout was estimated at about 90% and the elections were monitored by 200
international observers. The United Nations Special Representative for Human
Rights in Rwanda, Michel Moussali, called the elections a success, despite some
“technical problems.” Human Rights Watch criticized the elections, arguing that
people were forced to vote and that the elections were not transparent. Between May
and August 2002, the government of Rwanda organized hundreds of meetings
throughout the country to seek the input of the people of Rwanda for the draft
constitution. A referendum on a draft constitution was passed in May 2003. In late
August 2003, Rwanda held its first multi-party elections in decades. President
Kagame won 95% of the votes cast, while his nearest rival, Faustin Twagiramungu,
received 3.6 % of the votes cast. In the legislative elections, the ruling RPF won 73%
in the 80-seat National Assembly, while the remaining seats went to RPF allies and
former coalition partners.
Rwanda: Political and Armed Groups
Rwandese Patriotic Front (RPF).
Leader: President Kagame
Centerist Democratic Party (PDC).
Leader: Jean Nipomuscene Nayinzira
Democratic Republican Movement (MDR)
Leader: Celestin Kabanda
Islamic Democratic Party (PDI).
Leader: Andre Bumaya
Liberal Party (PL).
Leader: Pie Mugabo
Liberation Army of Rwanda (ALIR)—Armed Hutu group based in Eastern Congo, consists of former
Rwandan armed forces and members of the Interhamwe—the group responsible for the 1994 genocide.
Twagiramungu charged that the elections were marred and that government
officials intimidated his supporters. Twagiramungu, who served as prime minister
shortly after the 1994 genocide, had resigned in 1995 and fled to Belgium where he
lived until his return to Rwanda in 2003. The European Union Observer Mission
also charged that there had been election irregularities and that intimidation of
opposition candidates were widespread. Rwandan government officials dismissed
the EU charges, arguing that the elections reflected the wishes of the people. Some
observers questioned the 95% victory for president Kagame, suggesting that Kagame
could not get that level of support without rigging the elections. Other observers
were pleased that support for President Kagame and the RPF was widespread and
cut across ethnic lines.10 Analysts note that the RPF was well organized and
financed, and none of the opposition candidates had a political party base or a clear
slogan. Opposition candidates had access to government-controlled media, but some
of them did not utilize the access. President Kagame also benefitted from key
endorsements, including all the Hutu-dominated political parties and one of the
presidential candidates, who withdrew several days before the elections.
Longtime Rwanda observers had little doubt about Kagame’s victory in the
presidential elections. The poor showing by the leading opposition candidate,
however, was not fully expected. Twagiramungu was not even able to receive the
endorsement of RPF critics and reportedly did not spend much time campaigning.
Another problem that faced Twagiramungu was that he did not understand, according
to some Rwandan commentators, the concerns of his Hutu constituency in part
because of his long absence from Rwanda. RPF officials used his absence from the
country against Twagiramungu, suggesting that he abandoned them during the dark
days in Rwandan history. Despite the poor showing by the opposition, President
10 Author Ted Dagne spent several days in August 2003 in Rwanda and met with many
people, including with three opposition candidates, including Mr. Twagiramungu, President
Kagame, ambassadors and observers from European Union, U.S. embassy officials and
Rwandan election officials.
Kagame is expected by donor governments to provide more political space for the
opposition and implement necessary reforms to make Rwanda more democratic.
Although more than a dozen African heads of state, including President Mbeki of
South Africa and President Obasanjo of Nigeria, attended the swearing in ceremony,
western officials were notably absent. Western officials criticized reported
harassment of opposition officials and election irregularities.
Rwanda in DRC
The Interhamwe, the militia that led the Rwandan genocide, and the former
Rwandan armed forces (ex-FAR), intensified their attacks inside Rwanda from bases
in Democratic Republic of the Congo in the late 1990s. Relations between the
government of Laurent Kabila and that of Rwanda deteriorated by mid-1998.
Rwanda accused President Kabila of training and providing safe heaven to the
Interhamwe militia and the former Rwandan army. President Kabila accused the
Rwandan government of undermining his government. In July 1998, Rwandan
military and security advisers left Democratic Republic of the Congo, and within a
month a pro-Rwanda military unit in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo
mutinied against the Kabila government. In August 1998, regular Rwandan troops,
once again, invaded Democratic Republic of the Congo in support of anti-Kabila
Congolese rebels. Within weeks Rwandan troops penetrated deeper into Democratic
Republic of the Congo, threatening the Kabila government. In late 2002, after almost
four years of signing of the Lusaka Accords, Rwandan troops withdrew from DRC.
MONUC11 officials in DRC have acknowledged that Rwandan troops have
withdrawn from Democratic Republic of the Congo, although human rights groups
11 Author’s (Dagne) interview with MONUC officials in Goma and Kinshasa, August 2003.
Figure 4. Uganda
Uganda, a country slightly smaller than Oregon, gained its independence from
Britain in 1962. Until the mid 1980s, the East African country was mired in civil war
and ethnic strife, and suffered under a brutal dictatorship. By the time President
Yoweri Museveni’s National Resistance Army/Movement (NRA/M) took power in
early 1986, the country was in ruins, with an inflation rate of over 240% and a non-
existent economic infrastructure. President Museveni is credited with bringing about
relative stability and economic growth in Uganda. His strategy was to coopt his
political opponents and when necessary to use military means to neutralize rebel
groups. His first government included opposition figures who had served in previous
governments and arch critics of his Movement. Despite efforts at reconciliation,
armed opposition to his government continued for much of the 1980s and 1990s,
especially in the northern part of the country.
In May 1996, after a long transition period, President Museveni was elected to
a five year term by a large margin. Museveni won 74.2% of the votes cast, while his
opponent, Paul Ssmogerere, a former deputy prime minister and longtime rival of the
president, received 23.7%. The elections were declared by international observers
to be free and fair. A national referendum on multiparty politics was held in June of
2000. Museveni prevailed with 90.7% of Ugandans favoring a no-party government
system. The President stated that multiparty politics would only be introduced when
the no-party system has succeeded in eliminating the threat of a return to sectarian
Uganda at a Glance
!Population: 25.6 million
!Independence: 1962 from Britain Area: Slightly smaller than Oregon
!Ethnicity: 17% Baganda, other ethnicities compose remainder of
!Religions: 33% Catholic, 33% Protestant, 16% Muslim, 18%
!Languages: English (official), Luganda
!GDP: $31 billion (2002)
!GDP per capita: $1,260 (2002)
!Exports: $476 million (2002)
!Imports: $1.14 billion (2002)
!External Debt: $2.8 billion (2002)
!Adult HIV/AIDS Prevalence Rate: 5% (2001 est.)
CIA Factbook 2003
In 2002, however, bowing to donor pressure, Museveni authorized the
introduction of the Political Parties and Organizations Act (POA), which allows for
the formation of political parties. The opposition argues that the POA infringes on
the right to associate because it stipulates that political parties are only permitted to
operate inside the capital city of Kampala. In March 2003, however, President
Museveni suggested to his National Executive Committee, the leadership organ of
the NRM, that the party should consider lifting the ban on a multi-party system.
Museveni is also being criticized by the opposition and the international community
for his efforts to overturn the two-term limit in the Constitution. His second term
will end in 2006.
The 2001 Presidential and Parliamentary Elections
On March 12, 2001, Uganda again held national elections, and President
Museveni won 69.3% of the votes cast, while his closest challenger, Kizza Besigye,
received 27.8%.12 Besigye, a doctor and Museveni’s one-time ally, was a member
of the NRM and Museveni’s personal physician during the insurgency in the early
1980s. He ran on an anti-corruption platform, vowing to rid the government of its
excesses. He also raised questions about Uganda’s military involvement in the
Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), advocating Uganda’s withdrawal from
the DRC. Election observers, both local and international, declared the elections to
be free and fair, although they acknowledged that the electoral process and
management had many weaknesses. The results of the elections were rejected,
12 Ugandan Elections 2001. [http://www.uganda-elections.com]
however, by Besigye on the grounds that there were discrepancies and inconsistencies
in the electoral process. He filed a petition at the Supreme Court challenging the
declaration of Museveni as president-elect and sought to annul the vote. Besigye
subsequently lost the petition and said he would respect the Supreme Court verdict.
In August 2001, Besigye fled Uganda and later surfaced in the United States, alleging
that he feared for his life in Uganda. He now says he would return to Uganda if the
right conditions prevail.13
Uganda: Political and Armed Groups
National Resistance Movement (NRM).
Leader: President Museveni
Ugandan People’s Congress (PC).
Leader: Milton Obote
Democratic Party (DP).
Leader: Paul Ssemogerere
Conservative Party (CP).
Leader: Ken Lukyamuzi
Justice Forum (JF).
Leader: Muhammad Kibirige Mayanja
Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA)—Armed group.
Leader: Joseph Kony
In late June 2001, more than 50 incumbent members of the Ugandan parliament
lost their seats, including 10 ministers. The no-party parliamentary elections
reportedly gave President Museveni a major base of support in Parliament. He
campaigned aggressively for his favorite candidates, although a number of his
ministers were defeated by lesser known individuals. According to press reports, the
elections were marred by violence in which an estimated 12 people were killed.
Meanwhile, in February 2002, the ruling NRM lost several seats in local elections to
opposition figures, including the mayoral seat in Kampala, the capital.
Instability in Northern Uganda
The Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), led by Joseph Kony, is a rebel group that
has violently pursued a government overthrow since 1986. More than 20,000 children
have been abducted during this conflict for forced conscription and sexual
exploitation. As of July 2003, over 1 million Ugandans have been displaced. From
its bases inside Sudan, the LRA launches attacks against civilians in northern Uganda
and takes its abductees inside Sudan. There appears to be no political ideology
behind LRA’s armed insurrection, although LRA officials promote the Ten
Commandments as their political philosophy. The Acholi, the dominant ethnic group
in northern Uganda, do not support the LRA. Because of the LRA’s killings, lootings,
13 Author’s (Dagne) interview with Besigye, October 7, 2003.
and abductions, Uganda is facing what USAID has called its “worst humanitarian
crisis in 17 years.”14
Many efforts at a negotiated settlement between the LRA and the government
of Uganda have failed, although some LRA members have accepted the
government’s amnesty offer and have returned home. In March 2002, the
government of Uganda launched Operation Iron Fist in an effort to dismantle LRA
camps in southern Sudan. The Agreement reached between the governments of
Sudan and Uganda allowed Ugandan forces to deploy troops inside Sudan. Uganda
and Sudan also agreed to resume diplomatic relations, deploy monitors along the
Uganda-Sudan border, and ban activities by armed groups in their respective
countries. But Uganda’s offensive against LRA rebels has not produced tangible
results. The government’s offensive was followed by the spread of LRA attacks into
previously unaffected districts in the eastern part of the country, an area inhabited by
the Teso people. Teso self defense groups have aggressively attempted to counter
LRA forays into the east. Moreover, Ugandan officials believe that the government
of Sudan continues to support the LRA and continues to provide sanctuary to LRA
l eadershi p . 15
The Rwanda-Uganda Conflict: Background
Between 1996-97, Uganda along with Rwanda, had helped the then-rebel leader
Kabila to oust former dictator Mobutu Sese Seko. Kabila became president in May
1997, after the ouster of the Mobutu regime, but tensions between Kabila and his
allies, Rwanda and Uganda, soon began to mount. In August 1998, Uganda joined
Rwanda and Congolese rebels in a joint effort to oust the government of Laurent
Kabila of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). By early 1999, the
Congolese rebels and their Rwandan and Ugandan allies were in control of eastern
Democratic Republic of the Congo.
In northwest Democratic Republic of the Congo, a pro-Uganda Congolese rebel
group, the Movement for the Liberation of the Congo (MLC), appeared in late 1998.
However, the emergence of the MLC led to serious tensions between the pro-Rwanda
rebel group, the Congolese Democratic Rally (RCD), and MLC, as well as between
Rwanda and Uganda. Ugandans sought to influence events in DRC independent of
Rwanda and its Congolese allies. President Museveni was sidelined in the first
Democratic Republic of the Congo conflict by Rwanda and its allies because
Museveni sought a negotiated settlement with former dictator Mobutu. Kigali
considered the creation of MLC as a direct challenge and as undermining its RCD
allies. Efforts to merge the two Congolese groups failed in part because senior
Ugandan officials were opposed to a merger.
Rwanda -Ugandan tensions began to mount in 1999, when Rwandese officials
demanded a code of conduct for their respective armies in DRC. In August 1999,
Ugandan and Rwandan troops clashed in Kisangani, in eastern Democratic Republic
14 USAID Situation Report, July 3, 2003.
15 Interview with senior Ugandan government officials in Kampala and Washington, 2003.
of the Congo. The leaders of the two countries were able, at first, to bring a quick
end to the conflict, but tensions remained. Rwanda and Uganda clashed twice in
Democratic Republic of the Congo in 2000 and later agreed to a peace package;
although tensions remained because Ugandan forces were defeated in all three
engagements in Kisangani. Ugandan officials have long maintained that the problem
with Rwanda can be resolved peacefully and that they will work to improve
relations. Indeed, a number of meetings have taken place over the past two years
between the two sides, but relations between President Museveni and President
Kagame continue to be strained.
President Kagame and most of the senior political and military leaders of
Rwanda lived in Uganda for decades, until their return to Rwanda in 1994. President
Kagame and many Rwandese fought alongside President Museveni during the
Ugandan civil war, and Kagame later served as chief of military intelligence when
Museveni assumed power in 1986. Current senior Rwandese government officials
also served in senior positions in the Ugandan government and military. President
Museveni considered his role as that of mentor and senior statesman. The Rwandese
leadership, while grateful to Ugandans and Museveni, contend that the relationship
between the two sides must now be one of equal partnership. Ugandan officials assert
that in order to establish good relations, Rwanda must halt its alleged support for
Ugandan dissidents. Rwandan officials deny that they are supporting Ugandan
dissidents and instead, accuse Ugandan officials of collaborating with the
Interhamwe, the group responsible for the 1994 genocide. The British government
has been mediating between the two sides over the past several years.
In March 2003, Uganda sent an estimated 8,000 troops back into the Ituri region
of Democratic Republic of the Congo, reportedly to provide protection to the civilian
population and to assist the Ituri Pacification Commission (IPC). The Ituri region has
been devastated by ethnic clashes since Rwandan and Ugandan troops withdrew in
early 2003. The redeployment of Ugandan troops threatened to destabilize the region
once again, as Rwanda accused Uganda of violating the terms of agreement
concluded by the parties to the conflict. Under international pressure, Uganda
withdrew its troops in late April 2003, creating a power vacuum in the Ituri region.16
Shortly after the withdrawal of Ugandan troops, armed tribal factions in Ituri began
to terrorize the civilian population, killing several hundred people. In late May 2003,
the United Nations Security Council approved an intervention force to be deployed
in the Ituri region to protect civilians. As noted above, an estimated 1,400 troops led
by France were deployed in June 2003 and were replaced in September by MONUC
In recent months, relations between Rwanda and Uganda have improved in large
part due to ongoing high-level bilateral talks. In 2003, on several occasions, the
leaders of the two countries met to discuss issues relating to alleged support for their
respective opposition groups.17 One particular meeting between Presidents Museveni
and Kagame, in May 2003, where the intelligence chiefs and other senior officials
16 “Last Batch of Ugandan Troops Withdrawing from Eastern Congo.” The New Vision,
June 03, 2003.
17 Interview by author (Dagne) of senior Rwandan and Ugandan officials in August 2003.
from the two countries were present, reportedly helped significantly to improve
relations between the two countries. Both sides appear to have distanced themselves
from supporting the others’ opposition, who had been given sanctuary at the height
of the conflict between Kampala and Kigali. In August 2003, President Kagame
acknowledged that relations have improved with Uganda.18 President Museveni’s
presence at the swearing in ceremony of President Kagame in Rwanda, along with
several other Africa heads of state, is likely to strengthen relations between the two
18 Author’s interview (August 2003) of President Kagame in Kigali, Rwanda.