The New Times (Kigali)

20 June 2012

Rwanda: Nation Is Not to Blame for DRC's Woes - Kagame

Photo: Rwanda Govt
Rwandan military.

President Paul Kagame yesterday expressed frustration over continued allegations that Rwanda is aiding rebel groups in the neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

The President was addressing a news conference which was mainly dominated by the on-going crisis in the DRC.

President Kagame castigated the international community for endlessly blaming Rwanda for DRC woes saying they were intentionally disregarding the fact that they were historical.

"They claim they like Congo, but they don't like the Congolese, if they liked Congolese we wouldn't have these problems of raping and killing every day," Kagame said.

"Our main focus is to continue to work with the DRC and have good relations with the Congolese people so that we solve our problem that remains there - which is FDLR and the genocidaires".

Kagame blamed the UN for behaving; "as if the problem of Congo has been caused by Rwanda or should be Rwanda's responsibility".

Laurent Nkunda

The Head of State criticized non-state actors for using Rwanda as a scapegoat to cover up their responsibilities in messing up the DRC.

"In 2009 when we had issues in DRC, but under the false presentation of the problem, we remained engaged. In fact we tried to be helpful....we have a situation of Laurent Nkunda which we are still stuck with, we have had to bear every responsibility for him and the situation that created him hoping that that it would help in dealing with the eastern Congo problems, but also hoping that it would result into a solution for our problem - the FDLR which is based there.

"It was like we were even buying cooperation of the Congolese and the international community so that our problem can be dealt with," explained the President. He accused the United Nations Stabilisation Mission in DRC (MONUSCO) - which spends US$1.2 billion annually - of failing to live up to its mandate of contributing to stabilizing DRC, yet "instead the international community turns around to ask Rwanda to deal with the Congo problems".

He said MONUSCO knew exactly where the FDLR military commander, Sylvestre Mudacumura's headquarters was in (in DRC), but "ignores all that and instead asks us about Ntaganda."

FDLR is largely composed of elements responsible for the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, as well as human rights violations in DRC.

"We are accused of holding Nkunda (former leader of the Congolese National Congress for the Defence of the People (CNDP), Laurent Nkunda) but at the same time, this world of hypocrisy says that we did the right thing to hold him but we got nothing in the end out of it, because we thought we would create peace in the eastern Congo," Kagame said.

Massacres

Kagame said Rwanda was among the very few countries that have clearly expressed their position on DRC, that the problems in Congo can only be solved by the Congolese.

He said former CNDP leader and Congolese General, Bosco Ntaganda, was a concern of the DRC, not Rwanda's, and whoever wants to ask anything about him should ask MONUSCO, not Kigali.

In reference to Kinyarwanda speaking Congolese, who are often targeted and harassed by anti-Rwandan elements for their identity, and repeatedly cited as the basis for Rwanda's purported interests in the DRC, Kagame said, "Rwanda is not responsible for Kinyarwanda speaking Congolese who happen to be in DRC, live there and happen to be called the citizens of DRC.

"Rwanda has no responsibility for this, somebody else has responsibility for this. How they became Congolese citizens, I cannot explain; it's none of my business, I don't know about it".

Revealing some of the previously unreported crimes, President Kagame cited an incident where 50 former CNDP soldiers who were to be integrated in the Congolese army, were transferred from the eastern to north-western DRC and "killed because of their identity". He said the incident has never been reported because of a "conspiracy of silence".

Drawing the line

Kagame said that if the same baseless allegations against Rwanda continue, Kigali will be forced to "draw a line and say, 'if you don't want us to take part in solving the problem and just blackmail us, we don't respond to blackmails'; we will just say, "forget about us".

Meanwhile, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Louise Mishikiwabo was in Kinshasa yesterday where she met with President Kabila and her Congolese counterpart, Raymond Tshibanda.

In May, Rwanda hosted several high-level political and military meetings to help restore peace and stability in eastern DRC.

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