Tag Archives: Politics

FDLR echoes JK’s advise to kagame


A pile of arms surrendered by FDLR fighters in eastern Congo earlier this year.

As Rwanda pushes for military action against the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) even before the six-months deadline for the group’s disarming expires, the Hutu rebel faction has outlined fresh conditions for what it calls lasting peace solutions in the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), The Citizen has learnt.

Kigali has been calling for a military offensive against FDLR, which has been operating freely in eastern Congo for two decades, but Tanzania, South Africa and DRC maintain that no military action should be taken until the deadline expires. The stance is also supported by the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC). The deadline for the voluntary disarmament of FDLR fighters is December, this year, according to details gathered by The Citizen.

Both SADC and the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR) want the deadline to elapse before military action is taken against FDLR.

DRC wants the FDLR fighters who want to surrender to do so now or face military action after the deadline expires. The DRC government wants FDLR fighters who surrender to be repatriated to a transit camp in Kisangani, about 900km from South and North Kivu areas where the rebels are based.

But, according to details obtained by The Citizen, Rwanda and the UN want military action now and are strongly opposed to the six-month deadline.

So far, only 183 fighters have surrendered with less than 200 weapons, mostly old guns, handed in.

But in their letter addressed to the SADC chairman, President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe, FDLR, among other things, says it would not move its former combatants from Eastern Kivu to Kisangani as agreed earlier.

FDLR says between 2001 and 2002, when its fighters disarmed to pave the way for peace in war-torn DRC, the former combatants were attacked, killed and others forcibly repatriated to Rwanda.

All this, claims FDLR in the letter signed by Major General Byiringiro Victor, who is the president of the rebel faction, happened under the watch of UN peacekeeping forces (Monusco) and Congolese and Rwandese military officers.

Alarmed by what transpired in the past, FDLR has issued key conditions that should be fulfilled if Rwanda, DRC and the international community want lasting peace in eastern Congo.

  • First, the rebel faction wants SADC to be actively involved in the whole peace process by being at the forefront of the efforts.
  • Secondly, the group wants SADC and the African Union (AU) to plead on its behalf in persuading the European Union, United States of America, United Kingdom and Canada to support the peace process in eastern Congo.
  • The third condition, according to the letter obtained by The Citizen, is SADC and AU to make use of both their respective diplomatic and strategic positions and persuade both the US and the UN Security Council to put more pressure on Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame to accept political dialogue between his government and the Hutu rebels.

The US, EU and United Nations still maintain that FDLR is a rebel faction, which, apart from being accused of playing a role in 1994 genocide, has also committed atrocities in eastern Congo during the past two decades.

The Citizen could not independently establish whether Rwanda would accept the proposal to have a political dialogue with FDLR.

When President Jakaya Kikwete suggested that it was time Mr Kagame launched political dialogue with FDLR, Kigali vehemently rejected the idea, straining relations between the two countries.

In its letter, the rebel faction says it is worth noting that the Rwandan problem is a political problem and therefore its solution is not military action, but political dialogue.

It is not clear why FDLR has changed its tone from an armed rebellion to political dialogue, bearing in mind that the group has in the past two decades been fighting to overthrow the Kigali regime.

A senior security officer in the Tanzania government told The Citizen on condition of anonymity, “Our position is that no military action should be taken before the deadline expires…after the expiry then we would make a decision.

“Our problem is that after we defeated the M23, the FDLR rebels, having sensed that they were the next target, decided to abandon combats and use locals as human shields. This situation complicates the military action process because you can’t fight them without killings innocent civilians.”

Last December, a Tutsi-dominated rebel faction known as M23 was militarily dismantled, ending 18 months of fighting in eastern Congo.

The M23 rebel faction, also known as Congolese Revolutionary Army, which was mainly formed by former National Congress for Defence of the People (CNDP) fighters led by Brigadier General Sultan Makenga and General Bosco Ntaganda, mutinied against the Kinshasa regime early in January 2012 and sparked a crisis that lasted for nearly two years.

But the group opted for peaceful means to attain their political goals in DRC following a sustained offensive by the UN Intervention Brigade.

Following the defeat, SADC and ICGLR leaders agreed that the focus should now be on FDLR and other rebel forces that have destabilized eastern Congo for years. Although there are about a dozen rebel factions in eastern Congo alone, FDLR is the most resilient, having operated from Congo for two decades during which it collected taxes and controlled illegal mining activities to fund its operations.

What is the FDLR?

According to documented evidence, FDLR rose from the ashes of the 1994 genocide perpetrators to form a strong Hutu extremist army, thanks to the free handout and safe heaven provided by the United Nations High Commission for Refugees in the DRC’s Kivu Province.

The assassination of former Rwandan president Juvenal Habyarimana in 1994 opened the bloody chapter of the massacre of over 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus, sparking a full-scale offensive by the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) led by Mr Kagame. The formation of FDLR was spearheaded by, among others, Theoneste Bogosora, said to be among the chief architects of the genocide, and General Augustine Bizimungu who was chief of staff of the Rwandese army during the genocide.

At the time of Habyarimana’s assassination, RPF fighters were just 40km outside Kigali, waiting for the implementation of the Arusha peace accord, which, among other things, would have given the Tutsi rebels key positions within the transition government that was to have been announced by Habyarimana.

After months of fierce battle, RPF ended three months of genocide, but also sparked the exodus of refugees who fled Rwanda fearing retaliation by the RPF regime.

In July 1994, an average of 12,000 Rwandan refugees, mainly Hutus, entered DRC every hour through the town of Goma, fleeing the RPF soldiers who had just toppled the Rwandan regime. Among those fleeing were soldiers and Hutu militia known as Interahamwe.

sOURCE:The citizen


Increasing arrests and disappearances rattle Rwandans

Fear is growing in Rwanda as top members of the military are arrested and ordinary people disappear. President Kagame appears to be determined to stifle all opposition. Human rights organizations are alarmed.

President Paul Kagame

About a month ago, in late July 2014, Rwandan president Paul Kagame reshuffled his cabinet. He said a reorganization would bring about a better working climate and promote development and wealth in the East African country. The move triggered a series of events which quickly attracted the attention of international human rights organizations. One such event was the news on Monday (25.08.2014) that three high-ranking members of the armed forces had been arrested, including Rwandan Defense Force Colonel Tom Byabagamba. The reason given for his arrest: crimes against state security.

What is new about this is that it is no longer just supporters of the opposition who find themselves targeted by police, but also people considered to be allies of President Kagame. “Support for him in his own ranks is disappearing rapidly,” Gerd Hankel, an expert in international law at the Hamburg Institute for Social Research, said in an interview with DW. “Kagame is highly controversial. What was promised to the Rwandans and to his own close circle, has not been fulfilled. People are waiting for clear signs of progress.”

Such signs could be a willingness to share power or steps towards a general democratization, Hankel added. But Kagame, who has been in power for 14 years, and his country seem far removed from such prospects.

A newspaper seller in Kigali‘There are no longer any free media in Rwanda’

“We have been closely observing the situation experienced by human rights activists, members of the opposition and also the Rwandan media for several years,” said Gesinde Ames from the Ecumenical Network for Central Africa, an association of German church organizations. “There are no longer any free media in Rwanda,” Ames said. “There is a state organ which is under strict control. And it is the same with opposition movements.” Any attempts to counter Kagame by establishing new political parties were quickly stifled, with “party leaders arrested and sentenced to life imprisonment,” Ames told DW.

People ‘don’t just disappear’

Any meaningful opposition has been reduced to a single party, the Democratic Green Party, which is frequently the target of initimidation attempts. Party leader Damascene Munyeshyaka has been missing since June. The government denies any involvement.

Minister for Internal Security Sheik Mussa Harerimana plays down the case. “These are just accusations intended to tarnish the government’s reputation. People don’t just disappear here,” he told DW. “But there are people who are in prison as the result of criminal activities. While they are in detention awaiting trial, it seems that relatives claim they have disappeared.”

US-based human rights watchdog Human Rights Watch (HRW) sees this differently. A recent report says that dozens of Rwandans have gone missing since March this year. HRW accuses the Rwandan army and police of removing critics of the Kagame regime.

For years observers have criticized moves to suppress any opposition and increasing acts of intimidation. International law expert Hankel says recent events show this has clearly intensified. According to Hankel, Kagame’s enemies are no longer to be found abroad, such as the Rwandan Hutu FDLR militia (Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda), but close to Kagame himself. “There is a large group of politicians who are not happy with the course Kagame is taking but who have no opportunity of articulating this in public. And so conspiratorial groups are created.”

Diplomacy takes a one-sided view

Members of the Rwandan policeRwandan police are said to be involved in ‘disappearances’ of Kagame critics

Internationally, Rwanda’s economic successes and victories in the battle against corruption are highly praised. But, says Hankel, this is an incomplete picture. “What is not seen is that nothing has changed for ordinary Rwandans. Wealth is concentrated in the hands of just a few.”

Gesine Ames from the Ecumenical Network for Central Africa calls for more straight talking from Europe and from Germany in particular. There is a need for “more discussions between Rwanda and donor nations, especially concerning the human rights situation,” she said. “Human rights are universal and Rwanda must also respect them. The international community has an obligation to remind Rwanda of this.”

Source: DW

Nadine Claire Kasinge and some of her political views

The problem is not among the oppressors, but the oppressed. Victims experience the oppression but are reluctant to search and find the solutions to their situation.

There are not many women in the Rwandan politics of the opposition. The personality featured in these lines is young and new in that arena.  On January 28th 2013, for the first time, she appeared publicly in Paris among the founders of Ishema Party led by Father Thomas Nahimana. Until recently she was one of the deputy general secretaries. Further to the decision of her party’s Congress of last month to return in 2016 and do politics in Rwanda, she has been nominated Spokesperson of her party’s presidential candidate for the 2017 elections. Nadine Claire Kasinge’s political views highlighted here were expressed in an interview in Kinyarwanda she gave to Serge Ndayizeye on Radio Itahuka on February 26th, 2014. [please once on the site type the word Nkasinge in the space reserved to search in order to access the audio]

Each person has a role to play in the politics of their own country, because politics affect their well being in one way or another. Citizens can contribute and make things better for all. If the result is positive, this will benefit everybody including themselves.

We should not consider that we don’t have any role to play because we think there are other people in charge or more able than ourselves.

It is not necessarily your background which defines your destiny, but the determination you have for shaping the future as you want it to be which does. Only can you get there gradually by working with a focused and well organised team.

For politicians, providing solutions to the real needs of people is the big deal that creates trust. Discussing with them their concerns and telling them the way one sees how they should be addressed, then starting to solve them, this is the right approach.

Being all the time guided by the principal of not compromising when things that need changing because they are not right, must change.

Everything is possible if one wants it so badly that they see is as possible. One only needs to believe in what they consider to be the solutions to the situation they are confronted with. They need to have the courage of their convictions.

At each step of the journey, their courage and persistency gain them new knowledge that makes them better equipped to work for the good of others.

It is the experience gained in solving problems that makes one become an expert in their speciality; and when there are bigger issues to be sorted out, the majority turns then to them.

Status quo that transforms into normality despite its irrationality can only be addressed by courageous and persistent characters/ personalities.

Politics is not a men’s only reserved domain but every citizen and especially women who constitute 50% of the population. Therefore women need to be more represented and effective in that sector of society.

The role of the youth in contributing to the politics of their nation is critical and imperative. Politics is not for the only mature and older male generation.

When men and women work together as equals in politics, because they think differently, the outcome of their teamwork is different from when the two operate separately or don’t engage at the same level on similar issues.

If Rwanda was effectively pro-women in politics {as this is wrongly portrayed by the regime in Kigali], there would be laws and policies in favour of families and children’s education, both areas significantly and dangerously neglected.

If on another hand the Rwandan parliament, with the highest percentage of women in the world, was effectively representative of women’s interests, the country would be one where education would be the best and top political priority, husbands’ well being [not being massively and wrongly imprisoned – editor’s emphasis], maternity leaves, etcetera would be there cared for in the interest of present and future generations.

There is strength in working with others. Debate is essential in finding suited solutions to issues. One’s view is not everybody’s views, and these ones need consideration.

Adversity calls for more determination. When you win over a challenge, you feel satisfied and more motivated to go forward.

People faced with injustices most of their time don’t realize how powerful they are in front of their oppressors.

The starting point for resolving Rwandan problems is accepting the fact that, despite anybody’s different background [either physical, social, or even intellectual], nobody is above the rest.

The problem is not among the oppressors, but the oppressed. Victims experience the oppression but are reluctant to search and find the solutions to their situation.

Not speaking out against what is wrong is only delaying the instance when that wrong will come knocking on your own door. In general when there are injustices in somebody’s country, these have negative consequences on everybody, directly or indirectly, and on future generations. Understanding that such situation can be changed is the first step of changing it.