Exactly one year after former Rwandan foreign minister Dr. Charles Murigande and his then Congolese counterpart, Mbusa Nyamwisi, signed the Nairobi Communiqué, it is now the Heads of State of the two countries who are meeting in the Kenyan capital today.
Presidents Paul Kagame and Joseph Kabila were expected to meet over DR Congo’s internal problems, and not over the latter’s continued refusal to flush out genocidal elements from the neighbouring country as stipulated in previous agreements.
The development comes as a result of the international pressure on President Kagame as if Rwanda holds the solution to the recent flare-up of violence between Congolese themselves in eastern part of the country.
For the last two weeks, Kigali has been busy playing host to top diplomats from the United Nations, European Union, US, England, France, to mention but a few. They all descended on Kigali en route from Kinshasa as if both countries were at war.
Obviously the ongoing clashes in the lawless eastern DRC constitute a concern to Rwanda, as it does to other countries neighbouring Congo’s Kivu provinces.
Nonetheless, that does not mean that the solution to the Congolese internal administrative weaknesses will come from Kigali, or even the region at large.
The continued fighting in the DRC and the breakdown of the January Goma peace agreement is entirely a Congolese home-grown problem which ideally needs a home-grown solution.
Rwanda was never part of the inter-Congolese dialogue in Goma, and has never been part of the problem that undermines whatever Congolese agreed upon themselves.
Going by the recent incidents, the misleading allegation that Rwanda is supporting Gen. Laurent Nkunda seem to be motivated by two factors: the recent humiliation of FARDC (Congolese army) on the frontline, and the obvious guilt of the Congolese government for continuing to work with FDLR/Interahamwe – hard-line Rwandan elements whose sole mission is to accomplish their genocide mission against Tutsi is both in DRC and Rwanda.
And now the International Community has been carried away by the misleading notion that Gen. Nkunda’s rebel group cannot be as organized, disciplined and militarily superior without a dose of Kigali support.
Nkunda’s CNDP has on several occasions inflicted major upsets on FARDC, FDLR, Mai Mai and other groups, seizing military weapons which they have, in effect, used in the war.
Ironically, the UN Mission in Congo (Monuc), the US, and others, have all publicly said that they have no evidence that Rwanda was backing Nkunda.
Also interesting is that none of the international diplomats who have been streaming to Kigali lately – including David Miliband, Bernard Kouchner and Louis Michel– appeared to look at the possibility of Kabila-Nkunda talks as key to finding a lasting solution to the problem.
None of them either seemed to believe that the continued presence of FDLR/Interahamwe on the Congolese soil and their active involvement in that war is the root cause of the millions of troubles Congolese civilians continue to suffer.
It is ridiculous for the same people to give a blind eye to Congo’s failure to deliver on its promises of expelling the Genocide forces.
Over five years ago, DRC committed herself under both Lusaka and Pretoria Agreements to divorce with FDLR/Interahamwe and, in return, Rwanda agreed to withdraw her troops from the Congolese territory.
Kigali immediately went on to fulfill its promise. On the contrary, DRC did not only refuse to expel the Rwandan militias, but continued to fight alongside the FDLR/Interahamwe and even integrated them into its military ranks.
But, even with that in mind, Rwanda agreed to be part to the Nairobi Communiqué on November 9, 2007, under which Kinshasa undertook the same commitment of expelling FLDR militias. The process, which was supposed to kick-off earlier this year, never materialized.
Instead, one year later, Congolese forces are still fighting alongside FDLR. Interestingly, that accord was backed by the same organizations and states that are currently dragging Kigali into the internal issues of the Congo. And lately, the UN has thrown the spanner into the works.
Monuc has officially joined FARDC and the FDLR to fight Nkunda. But that comes as no surprise considering the business interests that some Monuc elements share with the genocide forces (the UN has previously confirmed that members of its UN peacekeepers exchanged arms for gold with FDLR militias).
In its November 11, 2007 statement, the London-based African Rights said that no lasting peace can ever be achieved in DR Congo without the disarmament of the genocidal militias.
“They (FDLR/Interahamwe) are the key to a realistic and successful strategy to bring human security to the Kivus, to defuse political and ethnic tensions, to promote dialogue and to lay the groundwork for effective and lasting regional solutions to the challenges spelt out in Nairobi. Even if Nkunda is brought under control, so long as the ex-FAR and Interahamwe hold sway, as they do, in large parts of the Kivus, there will be neither peace nor security for the Congolese people or Rwandese refugees, and the Great Lakes region will continue to be unstable and fraught with tension,” the rights body rightly warned.
Congolese civilians need more than just relief aid. They need to return to their homes, and take their children to school, without the ever-present fear for the marauding FDLR/Interahamwe militias.
For that to happen, the international community need to end the culture of silent accomplice and denounce President Kabila’s dangerous alliance with FDLR/Interahamwe.
Otherwise the current hide-and-seek game is just reminiscent of the global indifference in the run-up and during the 1994 Tutsi Genocide.
The author is WDA marketing & Communication Specialist