Dr. Jean-Baptiste Mbera is the Secretary General of the United Democratic Forces
Dr. Jean-Baptiste Mbera is a Rwandan opposition leader based in Belgium. He has been the Secretary General of the United Democratic Forces since it was founded in 2006. Uhuruspirit editor Comrade Hilary Ojukwu contacted him earlier today to seek his views over many issues, including the recent assassination of the former Rwandan Intelligence Chief. Below are extracts from the interview.
Uhuruspirit: Please, tell us more about your movement.
Dr. Jean-Baptiste Mbera: Our movement the United Democratic Forces, better known by its French acronym FDU-Inkingi was launched in 2006. We fight for a non-ethnic, non-sexist, democratic, peaceful and prosperous Rwanda. Rwandans cannot continue to live under successive ethnic dictatorships, marked by ethnic exclusion, suppression of basic freedoms and exploitation of the people by a clique linked to Western capitalists. It’s a recurrent problem that started before colonialism. Since July 1994, the Hutu ethnic majority is treated like outcasts by the ruling clique around Paul Kagame. But the Tutsi minority is also denied basic freedoms. FDU-Inkingi was created to mobilize all Rwandans to achieve change.
Our movement was born in exile, in Brussels, in April 2006. After four years of preparations, FDU-Inkingi chairperson Cde Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza went to Rwanda in January 2010 to set the necessary preparations for registration of our movement as a legal political party and later participate in the presidential elections slated for August 2010. The regime arrested her and threw her behind bars on fabricated charges in October 2010. She was convicted to 8 year jail term. In December 2013, that sentence was increased to 15 years on appeal by the Supreme Court. Many other local cadres have been arrested several times and some of them are still in jail while others were forced to flee the country.
Apart from the Chairperson, the rest of the leaders remained in exile, in Europe and North America. The movement is currently led by the First Vice Chair Eugene Ndahayo who is based in Lyon, in France. There is a splinter faction led by the Second Vice Chairman Nkiko Nsengimana who rebelled against the leadership of the movement in February 2011. Attempts to bring them back on track have not yet yielded fruits.
FDU-Inkingi has entered into coalition with other opposition groups. In March 2013, we formed together with two other organizations a front called ‘National Council for Democratic Change’ chaired by Gen. Emmanuel HABYARIMANA, former defence minister in Paul Kagame’s government. He fled to Uganda to save his life in 2003. Later he relocated to Switzerland where he still lives.
Uhuruspirit: What was your reaction when you heard about the killing of Col. Patrick Karegeya?
Dr. Jean-Baptiste Mbera: We were shocked but not surprised. The ruling clique led by Gen. Paul Kagame kills real or perceived opponents regularly and murder is a usual tool of control for them. In fact, when Paul Kagame took over the leadership of the ruling Rwandese Patriotic Front, he killed his predecessors Maj. Peter Bayingana and Major Chris Bunyenyezi. Since then, the list of his victims is endless. It’s widely known that he killed his predecessor President Habyarimana and his Burundian counterpart Cyprian Ntaryamira, all their collaborators and its French crew when his jet was hit by missiles while attempting to land on Kigali International Airport on April 6, 1994. In December 1995, he assassinated former RPF MP Col. Theoneste LIZINDE and a businessman named BUGIRIMFURA in Nairobi, Kenya. In May 1998, Seth SENDASHONGA the first post-genocide minister of interior was shot dead by a squad in broad daylight at a round-about near UN Headquarters in Nairobi. Two year before, he had escaped murder by one Francis Mugabo, a Rwandan diplomat posted in Rwanda’s embassy in Nairobi. He was caught red handed with a brazen pistol at the scene of murder.
André Kagwa RWISEREKA, Vice President of the Democratic Green Party of Rwanda was found beheaded in a swamp near Butare town in Rwanda, two months before presidential elections in 2010. The same year, former Chief of Staff Gen. Kayumba Nyamwasa was gunned by survived his injuries after killers linked to Kigali tried to kill him in Johannesburg, South Africa. Independent journalists are not spared. One Jean-Leonard Rugambage who was investigating the murder was shot dead at his gate by unknown assaillants. Charles Ingabire, a journalist of online publication ‘Inyenyeri News’ was killed by gunmen in a Kampala suburb. And this list can go on and on …
Uhuruspirit: The Rwandan National Congress (RNC), of which the former intelligence chief was a member, has accused the government of President Paul Kagame of being responsible for the murder. Do you think there is any merit in their case?
Dr. Jean-Baptiste Mbera: I think there’s no doubt Paul Kagame has a hand in his murder. He once said in parliament that he wouldn’t hesitate “to kill a fly with a hammer”.
Uhuruspirit: The South African Police Services are busy investigating the matter. What kind of reaction do you expect from President Jacob Zuma’s government should it be confirmed that Paul Kagame’s government had something to do with this cowardly and irresponsible murder?
Dr. Jean-Baptiste Mbera: South Africa is a democratic country. It is led by revolutionaries who fought against an entrenched racist government. Rwanda’s current regime is an apartheid-like autocracy. This regime exports violence in the Great Lakes region where it’s repeatedly fabricated proxy militias to destabilize the East of the Democratic Republic of the Congo where South African troops are deployed. We think that it’s high time that the South African government realized the nature of Paul Kagame’s government and its unrelenting aggression on the continent.
Uhuruspirit: What is your party’s position on how to resolve the Rwandan crisis in order to have genuine stability?
Dr. Jean-Baptiste Mbera: Paul Kagame must go! And the sooner the better. His tools of repression, the army, police and intelligence services must be shaken and reformed. An all-inclusive national transitional government must be put in place to repatriate exiled Rwandans, conduct constitutional reforms and hold democratic elections. Paul Kagame will not accept negotiations with opposition groups, unless he’s forced to do so by all legitimate means. That’s the message he sent to the Rwandan people, to the region, the continent and the world by killing Col. Patrick Karegeya. He must be arrested and tried.
Uhuruspirit: Do you think that the conflict between the DRC government and M23 rebels is now over after the recent signing of an agreement in Kenya?
Dr. Jean-Baptiste Mbera: The M23 was a cover for covert RDF operations in DRC. Since the reasons of its creation where not addressed, war can resume any time. Let me remind you that the M23 wasn’t the first proxy militia created by Paul Kagame’s government. It was preceded by the CNDP led by renegade officer Laurent Nkunda. Before that back in 1998, Paul Kagame used another proxy movement called RCD-Goma. As long as the Rwandan conflict is not resolved, Paul Kagame will continue to destabilize the region because his thinks that he must pre-emptively destabilize all potential or perceived neighbors who might provide support to the opposition. They will never have peace as long as Paul Kagame and his sectarian clique are in power.
Uhuruspirit: Thank you so much sir for your time.
Dr. Jean-Baptiste Mbera: Thank you for the opportunity