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Africa's great rift in mercy

A solution to Congo's latest war lies in Rwanda's attempt at Tutsi-Hutu reconcilation.

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On the surface, a tragedy playing out in the heart of Africa along the Congo-Rwanda border looks like a classic clash of unruly armies driven by ethnic fears, vying for might and minerals, barely curbed by former colonial powers. Dig deeper, though, and there might be an end to this conflict in the balm of reconciliation.

That quality of thought has not been in short supply inside Rwanda itself. There, leaders have tried since the 1994 genocide of nearly 800,000 Tutsis and others to find a balance between harsh justice and healing mercy for Hutu killers. A unique African style of resolving old crimes between peoples who once lived together peacefully is now needed more than ever to end Congo's latest war.

It was the post-genocide exile of hundreds of thousands of Rwanda's Hutu killers into Congo that has helped fuel the horrific wars that engulfed the region since the mid-1990s, leaving at least 4 million dead.

Not since World War II has humanity seen such killing numbers. Africa's stability relies in large part on achieving peace in Congo, a nation the size of western Europe.

The latest flare-up, in which a rebel army under Congolese warlord Laurent Nkunda has stormed the regional capital of Goma and forced tens of thousands to flee, provides a new impetus to reconcile the exiled Hutu murderers back into their land.


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