look out over there
So yesterday I looked out my window, and what did my eyes see but a group of gendarmes (sort of a cross between police and soldiers), posing (with weapons) for a group picture. The RPG launchers are a nice touch, n'est pas? Photographs with only Kalashnakovs are so 2004, and this is the Third Republic, baby!
Please don't be alarmed by this photograph; despite the fact that these guys are less than a hundred yards from my bedroom window, I couldn't be in a safer part of town. Really. C & E live next door to the governor, so this is his security detail. They provide us with security as well, so C & E don't have to worry so much about theft at night, even though they still have a night watchman.
Congo traffics in rumors, and the rumors are strong that the main rebel in the countryside, a guy named Nkunda, now has considerably better access to weapons and delivery systems than has been the case in the past. Goma is secure, but if he made an assault on the city, it's not the least bit clear that the bulk of the soldiers posted here would be loyal to the government. Some of them are certainly loyal to Nkunda. The question is how many brigades and soldiers would follow him, and whether they would actually come to his aid if it came to that. On the off chance that that happened, I think MONUC would eventually prevail, but Goma would be a mess for awhile.
As for the neighbors, they couldn't be more friendly. They are probably paid and fed well enough that they would protect the governor. Nkunda has the capacity to cause lots of problems in the countryside, but I really don't believe he'll make it to Goma. Here's hoping.