The Republic of Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo have been at odds since the end of the 1994 genocide, when Hutu extremists from Rwanda fled into Congo. Since that time, they have used Congo as a base from which to attack Rwanda. When I visited Goma in 1997, my Congressional staff colleagues and I were told that even the United Nations refugee camp on the Rwanda border was being used as a base of operation for the Rwandan rebels.
My colleagues and I were in Goma just two weeks before the war started, and we saw first-hand the tension between the two governments because of rebel activity. Shortly after we left, the conflict known to some as "Africa World War I" began. Even after the war ended, both governments have supported rebel movements as proxy armies against one another.
The war was as much about resources as it was about the cross-border raids. For that reason, the joint military operation by Rwandan and Congolese troops aimed at rooting out rebel groups they have respectively supported will be only part of the solution to their conflict. They will need to share in the use of resources to cement a lasting partnership.
For this reason, the Leon H. Sullivan Foundation is exploring the possibility of of a project that will involve joint use of natural gas from Lake Kivu, which the two countries share, as a basis for partnership between them that may provide a level of cooperation that makes conflict contrary to their mutual interests. It is our hope that such a partnership can be highlighted at the ninth Leon H. Sullivan Summit in Kigali, Rwanda, in July 2010.