The Congolese government has accused Rwanda and Uganda of supplying tanks and troops to Tutsi rebels leading a revolt in the country’s volatile eastern region.

Both Rwanda and Uganda have denied the charges, which have not been independently confirmed.

But the charges nevertheless represent a sharp escalation in hostilities towards Rwanda and now also Uganda.

Rwanda has been frustrated by Kabila’s failure to stop cross-border Hutu rebel attacks.

Now there are fears that the accusations by Kabila’s government could broaden the conflict.

On the streets of Kinshasa, Congolese soldiers in plain clothes train for what could be imminent fighting.

Ethnic Tutsi and Rwandan-led rebels have swept through Congo’s eastern Kivu region and parts of a corner in the far west on the Atlantic coastline.

Rebel commanders say they are closing in on the Congolese capital Kinshasa with the ultimate aim of ending President Laurent Kabila’s 14-month regime.

In a statement on Tuesday, Kabila’s government raised the stakes a notch, saying it wasn’t a rebellion, but an invasion.

Information Minister Didier Mumengi claimed Rwanda and Uganda are sending in troops to fight alongside the rebels.

“Enemy forces from Rwanda which are invading in the west and the east of our country and which leave a big number of dead and wounded behind them have been backed up in the eastern zone of the country by Ugandan forces.”
SUPERCAPTION: Congolese Minister of Information Didier Mumengi

Kabila’s government had already accused the Tutsi-led Rwandan government of trying to establish a “Tutsi empire” in his territory.

But the accusations against Uganda were new, and some say worrying.

“It is our priority to use diplomatic efforts to preserve our nation’s territorial integrity. We will forward the issue of aggression by Rwanda and Uganda to the U-N. But if we do not have any response on this matter, Congo will take matters into its own hands and punish the two countries.”
SUPERCAPTION: Congolese Minister of Information Didier Mumengi

Both the Ugandan and Rwandan government have vehemently denied the accusations.

But on the streets of Kinshasa the news was greeted with support.

It was the headline story on every major newspaper, drawing crowds to newsstands around the capital.

One Kinshasa resident said he believed the situation would get worse before it got better.

“We think that the international community is not supporting us and is trying to make the situation much worse. That’s because it is the Ugandan army delivering weapons. That is clear aggression from abroad and we will not give them these opportunities to come into our country just like that.”

Ironically, it was the same Rwandan and Tutsi rebels who helped Kabila sweep to power last year.

Now they have turned their guns on Kabila’s forces, and his own leadership has been thrown into peril.

With more turmoil on the horizon, many Congolese are wondering which direction the embattled president will take the country.

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