Rwanda ‘committed to DRC peace deal’

Rwanda has reiterated its commitment to the UN-backed Peace, Security and Cooperation Framework for the DRC and the region, and urged all signatories to the agreement, signed in February, to help translate it into action.
Louise Mushikiwabo, Foreign Affairs minister
Louise Mushikiwabo, Foreign Affairs minister

Rwanda has reiterated its commitment to the UN-backed Peace, Security and Cooperation Framework for the DRC and the region, and urged all signatories to the agreement, signed in February, to help translate it into action.

“We believe it offers a realistic path to lasting peace and security for the people of the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Great Lakes region at large,” Foreign Affairs minister Louise Mushikwabo said during a US-convened United Nations Security Council debate on the security situation in the Great Lakes Region yesterday. “But we must not veer off course, and we must understand that this vision is only achievable alongside regional peace initiatives, as well as genuine political will on the part of all affected states.”

Rwanda is a signatory to the peace framework signed in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, by 11 regional countries, with the UN, African Union, ICGLR and SADC signing as guarantors.

Mushikiwabo said there was need to end resurfacing insecurity in eastern Congo while ensuring long-term stability in the restive neighbouring country.

She called for an end to the collaboration between the Congolese army, FARDC, and the FDLR militia, largely composed of elements blamed for the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda.

“Rwanda requests concerned parties to halt any further threats to its territory and its population such as the recent bombing into Rubavu district from the DRC territory. Nor can the peace process withstand destructive military alliances... Rwanda remains seriously concerned.”

She added: “While Rwanda views any alliance between the FDLR and FARDC as a threat to regional security, we will not allow these disturbing developments to derail our commitment to peace.”

However DRC’s Foreign minister Raymond Tshibanda, addressing the same forum at the UN headquarters in New York, rejected these allegations, which Kigali made in an official complaint to the UN Security Council a fortnight ago.

The Rwandan government has also accused the newly-formed Force Intervention Brigade (FIB), an offensive wing of the UN Stabilisation Mission in the Congo (Monusco) of supporting the FARDC-FDLR alliance, adding that the Brigade officers had also discussed with FDLR “matters related to their tactical and strategic collaboration”.

But Tanzania, one of the FIB contributing countries, yesterday defended the 3000-plus force at the Security Council meeting.

Rwanda charges that the Congolese army has joined hands with the FDLR as it battles the M23 rebels in the country’s east, following the collapse of peace talks between Kinshasa and the insurgents who took up arms last year blaming the government of breaching a 2009 peace deal with an earlier rebel movement.

Speaking in New York yesterday, Mushikiwabo outlined Rwanda’s actions in keeping with its commitments under the Peace Framework, citing the disarmament and relocation away from the DRC border of some 600 M23 combatants who fled to Rwanda after they were defeated by a rival M23 faction.

She urged the international community to come up with a solution regarding these former combatants, who have since denounced rebellion and sought asylum in Rwanda.

Mushikiwabo also recalled that Rwanda facilitated the transfer of M23’s General Bosco Ntaganda to the International Criminal Court in The Hague after the warlord sneaked into the country and surrendered to the US embassy in Kigali in March.

The minister said Rwanda also shelters some 70,000 Congolese refugees.

Mushikiwabo called on other partners in the peace deal to implement their commitments, saying that the “time for words” had elapsed.

She noted Rwanda and the region will not be at peace without a stable DRC.

“A plan without action is just words and, when it comes to the eastern DRC, there have been enough words,” Mushikiwabo said. “This is the time for accountable parties to stand up and step forward. Now is the time for action.”

Under the peace deal, the DRC government committed to strengthening its security and governance institutions to ensure the rule of law, especially in conflict-torn eastern Congo.

All the signatory countries committed not to interfere in each other’s internal affairs.

DRC’s Tshibanda said his government had made progress with regard to its commitments under the peace framework, including putting in place a national taskforce to champion the necessary reforms as agreed under the UN-sponsored regional deal.

Several countries voiced their support for the Peace Framework but warned that the lasting solution to the recurrent conflict in eastern DRC lied in a political settlement, and called for resumption of ICGLR-brokered peace talks between Kinshasa and M23 rebels in the Ugandan capital Kampala.

The debate was chaired by the U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, whose country holds the rotating presidency of the UN Security Council for the month of July.

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