DRC conflict: President optimistic on Obasanjo

VILLAGE URUGWIRO - President Paul Kagame has expressed optimism on the newly appointed UN special envoy on the conflict in the Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) saying that he has a notion of the conflict that has displaced hundreds of thousands over the past two months. Former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo was appointed by UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon as his special envoy during a recent summit on the DRC crisis held in Nairobi.

VILLAGE URUGWIRO - President Paul Kagame has expressed optimism on the newly appointed UN special envoy on the conflict in the Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) saying that he has a notion of the conflict that has displaced hundreds of thousands over the past two months.

Former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo was appointed by UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon as his special envoy during a recent summit on the DRC crisis held in Nairobi.

“I think he is the right person because of the knowledge he has on the conflict dating way back when he was Nigerian President…he is also doing the right thing of first understanding matters on the ground to come up with a clear picture,” the President told a press conference at Urugwiro Village yesterday.

Obasanjo has been meeting various leaders in his effort to get the root cause of the conflict. He met with Kagame on Sunday following separate meetings with DR Congo President Joseph Kabila and Gen. Laurent Nkunda, the leader of the National Congress for the Defence of the People (CNDP). He was expected to meet Uganda’s Yoweri Museveni after his meeting with Kagame.

Rwanda has consistently expressed concerns over the existence of the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) in DR Congo where they have established bases to facilitate them destabilise the country.

FDLR has committed atrocities both in Rwanda and in their host country and are currently fighting alongside the Congolese government forces against Nkunda’s CNDP.

“FDLR has to be dealt with…it is now six years since we left Congo with guarantees from the International Community that they will deal with the problem but nothing has been done,” the President said.

Rwanda withdrew her forces from the DR Congo in 2002 following guarantees by the International Community with the establishment of MONUC, a UN Mission, but the FDLR has remained undeterred.

“The FDLR take advantage of the situation in Congo and end up persecuting Congolese while they pursue their plans of finishing off the ‘job’ they started of trying to annihilate the people they left in Rwanda,” he said.

He said that some people involved in finding a solution to the vast country have been misled with the fact that the problem is only in the eastern part of DR Congo.

“The problem we have in Congo is that people are misled that the problem only exists in the eastern part of the country which is not true…what is needed is to treat the problem as a national issue,” he said.

Kagame also said that Rwanda has nothing to do with the existence of Nkunda saying that the emergence of the latter and his force was caused by the same internal problems that have been prevailing in the country.

“There is no link with Rwanda and Nkunda. What people do is trying to attach some ethnic group in that part of Congo with one that we have here…this is just an accident of history,” said the President.

He added, “It is wrong to assume that Rwanda holds the switch to Nkunda…this is a simplistic approach to the problem which even complicates it further…a proper understanding and approach to the problem is needed to deal with it from its roots,” he said.

Kagame said following Obasanjo’s appointment as the facilitator, a ceasefire has been agreed upon by the warring parties to first deal with the humanitarian crisis.

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