RUBAVU — The Governor of the Western Province, Penelope Kantarama, has condemned her Congolese counterpart of the North Kivu province, Julien Paluku, for failing to stop the mistreatment of Rwandans in the neighbouring town of Goma.
Kantarama made the remarks at a recent security meeting in Gisenyi town. The meeting brought together provincial leaders, Mayors, sector and cell coordinators, military and police officers to discuss the issue.
“We have in the past met and solved any issues between the two provinces together. It’s unfortunate however, to see that the north Kivu authorities have been reluctant to meet with us so as to find solutions to the current tension between the two towns which has resulted in the arrest and torture of over 12 Rwandans who are up to now illegally detained in Goma prison,” she said.
She said that although the actual number of Rwandans detained in Goma is not yet confirmed, Rubavu district authorities and the immigration office were in the process of compiling lists of the missing residents and called upon people to cut visits to Goma.
She said that a list of Rwandan students studying in Goma was also being compiled and their names would be made known to the immigration office which she said will help the district in identifying any one missing.
“These children will have their names taken by the immigration office every time they cross the border to Goma schools,” she said.
The governor also castigated the DRC authorities for siding with the FDLR rebels who have often crossed the border to destabilise security in the sectors that share borders with DRC.
“An armed group of unidentified people recently crossed the border from DRC to Busasamana sector-killed one resident and injured an old man whose names I don’t remember. They looted all their property and went back to DRC,” she said.
“These are all issues we have wanted to discuss with our north Kivu provincial counterparts but they have deliberately turned down our invitations and requests to meet them,” she added.
The reluctance of Kivu authorities to meet Rwandan leaders over the tense situation is largely attributed to their current open accusation against Rwanda.
The current hostility is said to have been triggered by deaths of many DRC troops killed by General Laurent Nkunda’s CNDP in battle, whose bodies were recently driven to Goma and viewed by the north Kivu leaders and residents.
Governor Paluku, is said to openly allege that the Rwandan government is supporting Gen. Nkunda because of his triumph over government forces, a claim Kigali refutes. He was reported to have organised street children recently in Goma to demonstrate denouncing Rwanda.
Paluku was recently quoted by Goma newspapers as saying that Nkunda’s current military superiority was evident that he had other forces behind him and most likely the Rwandan government. At the meeting, Kantarama described as baseless such allegations.
“Nkunda’s superiority and military strength does not in any way mean that he is supported by Rwanda,” said Kantarama.