Rwanda, DR Congo defence ministers hold talks

Defence ministers of Rwanda and DR Congo are holding talks in the Rwandan capital Kigali, the first such high-level meeting between the two countries in three years.
(L-R) DR Congo's defence minister Aime Lusa-Diese Ngoi-Mukena (second left) chats with his hosts, Defence minister James Kabarebe (R), Minister for Disaster Preparedness and Refugee Affairs Seraphine Mukantabana (L), and Internal security minister Sheikh Musa Fazil Harerimana (with back to camera) at Lemigo Hotel in Kigali today. (Timothy Kisambira)
(L-R) DR Congo's defence minister Aime Lusa-Diese Ngoi-Mukena (second left) chats with his hosts, Defence minister James Kabarebe (R), Minister for Disaster Preparedness and Refugee Affairs Seraphine Mukantabana (L), and Internal security minister Sheikh Musa Fazil Harerimana (with back to camera) at Lemigo Hotel in Kigali today. (Timothy Kisambira)

Defence ministers of Rwanda and DR Congo are holding talks in the Rwandan capital Kigali, the first such high-level meeting between the two countries in three years.

Defence minister James Kabarebe and his visiting Congolese counterpart Aimé Lusa-Diese Ngoi-Mukena and their respective delegations are discussing bilateral security issues behind closed doors.

1443100502kabarebe-ngoi-mukena
Ministers (L-R) Ngoi-Mukena (Defence, DR Congo), Seraphine Mukantabana (Disaster Preparedness and Refugee Affairs), Sheikh Musa Fazil Harerimana (Internal Security) and James Kabarebe (Defence) arrive at Lemigo Hotel for the bilateral talks earlier today.

At the centre of the talks is the DR Congo-based FDLR militia, composed of elements linked to the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi and which has defied multiple UN-backed ultimatums to disarm voluntarily, officials said.

FDLR was created by the remnants of the militia that bear responsibility for the slaughter of more than a million people during the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.

1443099721rwanda-delegation
Chief of Defence Staff Gen Patrick Nyamvumba (C), Minister for Disaster Management and Refugee Affairs Seraphine Mukantabana (R), and the Permanent Secretary Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Amb. Jeanine Kambanda. (Timothy Kisambira)

Its founders crossed over the border to the DR Congo in 1994 as the genocidal machinery lost control of the country, following the takeover of Kigali by the then Paul Kagame-led Rwanda Patriotic Army (RPA) rebels.

The Congolese delegation is also keen on the repatriation of the former M23 combatants who have been staying in a camp in eastern Rwanda, having crossed into the country in 2013 as their rebellion against Kinshasa collapsed.

1443100148kabarebe-meeting-congo
Kabarebe delivers his keynote address at the opening of the bilateral meeting in Kigali earlier today. (Timothy Kisambira)

Some of the former M23 rebels have since repatriated voluntarily.

Both Kabarebe and Ngoi-Mukena hailed the bilateral talks during the opening session with the former terming the move as ‘historic’.

“Our countries have an obligation to our citizens, to ensure peace and security as a foundation for development. The UN and other regional actors can only come in to support bilateral efforts. This is an opportunity that should not be missed,” he said.

1443100284congolese-delagtion
Some of the members of the Congolese delegation follow proceedings at the meeting. (Timothy Kisambira)

The Congolese defense minister said the meeting’s main objective was to boost bilateral relations and reassure the peoples of the two countries that the region was firmly on the road back to peace.

“We seek to usher peace in the Great Lakes region,” he said.

The summit is a follow up on a meeting between both countries' military chiefs in June in Kinshasa, DR Congo, and two others held earlier in the year in Kigali, which were attended by Congo's deputy defence minister. 

1443100000ngoi-mukena
DR Congo's defence minister Ngoi-Mukena delivers his remarks at the meeting in Kigali. (Timothy Kisambira)

When the M23 rebellion broke out in 2012, Kinshasa accused Rwanda of backing the rebels, a claim which Kigali rejected, before a UN-DR Congo onslaught on rebel positions forced some M23 fighters to cross into Rwanda and Uganda. 

Subsequent regional and international efforts required the $1.5 billion-a-year UN force in the Congo, Monusco, to also join forces with Congolese army to launch operations against the FDLR but the UN troops have since stayed away from the operations, leaving only the Congolese army, FARDC, to try to neutralise the militia – albeit with little success.

1443100774group-photo
Members of both sides in the talks, led by Defence minister James Kabarebe (4th R) and his Congolese counterpart Ngoi-Mukena (4th L), pose for a group photo before talks continued behind closed doors. (Timothy Kisambira)

Rwanda and DR Congo have previously conducted short-lived joint operations against FDLR.

editorial@newtimes.co.rw

 

Have Your SayLeave a comment