The Independent (Kampala)

28 January 2013

Uganda: Heavy Guns Not Solution in DR Congo - President

President Paul Kagame says heavy investments in military as a solution to conflicts cannot bring about sustainable solutions.

While answering questions from journalists on Jan.21 during a press conference at Urugwiro Village, Kagame gave MONUSCO, the UN Stabilisation Mission in DRC which consumes billions of dollars per year, as a good example of heavy investment in the military that has not yielded any sustainable solution.

The president said a neutral force constituted by regional armies which is expected to be deployed in Congo is a "good idea since this was a force from the region". But he wondered why there should be another force when there already is another one on the ground.

Regional leaders meeting under the auspices of the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR), chaired by Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni agreed to form a neutral force to neutralize all rebel groups in eastern Congo where fighting flared up last year.

The ICGLR members include Angola, Burundi, Central African Republic, Republic of Congo, Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Sudan, Tanzania and Zambia.

Kagame said foreign forces that intervene to solve crises in Africa cannot be the solution.

"Africans should develop capacities so that they are able to organise themselves and lead operations to bring peace on the continent," he said, "In some cases you cannot blame the foreign forces taking the initiative to intervene because Africans are not able to do anything to bring about a solution."

President Kagame also said those who are keen on deploying drones in Congo and other place in Africa to support peacekeeping efforts should do as they wish, but they should be able to explain how they would contribute to a sustainable solution.

President Kagame said Rwanda and Rwandans do not wish Congolese ill because a thriving and successful neighbour is what Rwanda needs to also prosper. President Kagame said that if the origin of Congolese problems was Rwanda as it is said, solutions would have been found long time ago. He pointed out that the bigger problem of Congo should not be masked by looking at Rwanda, and that those who want to help Congo should not look at it that way.

On the economic front, President Kagame said nations that cut or suspended aid to Rwanda did not do so because of the reasons frequently stated, but because of other reasons that are not talked about.

He said the challenges Rwandans are facing as a result the problems in Congo may be a blessing in disguise because they will adjust their mentalities and learn to do things differently.

The President said 2012 was a productive year with the economy growing by over 7% and nothing less should be expected in 2013.

"Rwandans are ready to play their part towards achieving this goal," he said, adding that despite some donor countries withholding their budgetary support, Rwanda would not go into economic crisis but will adjust and live within its available means.

"For me this is not an unexpected situation because those who stopped giving their money said that the decision was based on group of experts report but most of them stopped their money before even the report was released, this shows you that something was already operating.

"Because we did not play any role in the happening of these decisions, we are not as hurt as we would be if we had a hand in making of this situation. These are actually things that we expect to happen in future."

He said the freezing of aid could be "a blessing in disguise" because it makes people live within the available means by working hard, avoiding unnecessary expenditure and adjust in ways of management that suits them.

"Suspension of aid can't be because of the UN report or other reasons put forward because the aid was suspended even before the report was released. This should be a wakeup call to Rwandans and Africans to know that you cannot rely on generosity of others all the time. In order to deal with the challenges resulting from aid cuts, we have to make a rational approach so that we do not affect key sectors."

The globally respected publication, The Economist, has predicted that Rwanda will be among top ten fastest growing economies in the world and the second best in Sub Saharan Africa in 2013.

In a report on global economic trends for 2013, The Economist indicates that Rwanda would be the ninth fastest-growing economy in the world and the second-best south of the Sahara.

The positive indicators are despite donors, including Germany and Britain, withholding budget support to Rwanda on account of the allegations that the country was behind a rebel group, M23 that is engaged in a war with government in the eastern DR Congo.

The donor cuts have cast doubts on Rwanda's ability to maintain the high growth of the last couple of years.

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