Former Nigerian President, Gen. Olusegun Obasanjo, has backed President Paul Kagame, expressing optimism that cooperation between Rwanda and DRC will yield a peaceful solution to the conflict in the Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
Obasanjo’s position comes out in a pre-recorded interview to be aired tonight in Frost over the World on Al-Jazeera Television.
Obasanjo is the United Nations Secretary General’s Special Envoy to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
Asked whether he shares the same degree of optimism like Kagame asserted recently that ‘he has never been hopeful than right now’ on the situation in Eastern DRC, Obasanjo told the show’s host, Sir David Frost, that he was equally optimistic and delighted that joint efforts between the two countries would wipe out the insecurity in Eastern DRC and along the borders of Rwanda.
He added that for the two countries to agree to set aside their grievances and address a common problem, since the November 7, 2008, UN- brokered Nairobi Peace talks, was a great step towards restoring peace in the Great Lakes Region.
“If today the situation has changed to the extent that not only are they are planning and executing a joint operation together, then there is great hope for peace in the Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, and along the borders of Congo/Burundi, Congo/Rwanda and Congo/Uganda,” said Obasanjo.
The joint operations code named Umoja Wetu (Our Unity) mainly targeted the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDRL) a rebel group composed of remnants who spearheaded the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda.
President Kagame has always underscored the importance of the two countries agreeing to combine efforts to counter the problem of insecurity.
As he emphasised while appearing recently on BBC’s Hard Talk, Kagame said that the support of the population in Eastern DRC was a victory in itself.
He stressed that regional peace and security were major priorities and that there is no doubt, after Umoja Wetu, peace will return.
Kagame noted that the successful operation which has so far seen over 7,000 former FDLR rebels and their dependents repatriated back to Rwanda, ‘broke the back’ of the FDLR who have been hiding in Congo since 1994.
On the Issue of whether rebel leader General Laurent Nkunda – now under house arrest in Rwanda – should be tried in Rwanda or DRC, Obasanjo said:
“If there would be any trial Nkunda is a full-bloodied citizen of the Congo, DRC and if he has done anything wrong, he has done it against his country, DRC... So if there would be any trial at all, it should be in Democratic Republic of the Congo.”
President Kagame ealier revealed that the two countries are discussing the issue of the former leader of the National Congress for the Defence of the People (CNDP), which has now integrated into the Congolese National army.