By BK Kumbi
Apart from Rwanda, through the voice of its Minister of Foreign Affairs Louise Mushikuwabo and pro-Rwandan Patriotic Front associations like Ibuka, many Africans, Congolese and Rwandan Hutus, have welcomed the proposal of the President of Tanzania to bring the FDLR and the Kigali government to the negotiation table to end the conflict in the Great Lakes as it affects particularly atrociously the Democratic Republic of Congo.
In his speech of 26 May 2013 in Addis Ababa in front of his peer African Heads of State, Ban Ki Moon (Secretary General of the United Nations), and Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma (President of the African Union), President Kikwete highlighted the need to implement the objectives of the Framework Agreement for the DRC signed in Addis Ababa on 24 February 2013. He recognized in Mary Robinson (Special Envoy of the Secretary-General of the United Nations for the Great Lakes) a person of choice to carry out the mission of bringing and sustaining peace in the Great Lakes region and welcomed the establishment of Intervention in the Kivu provinces. However Kikwete suggested that the success of this mission of peace depended on the continuation of the talks in Kampala between M23 and the Congolese government and the need also for the FDLR and Kigali government to sit at the negotiation table. His suggestion even went further by requesting that Kampala too had to have talks with its ADF rebels. He also added that he was among those who did not believe that expanding the mission of MONUSCO and setting up the Brigade of Intervention as a deterrent force would ultimately stop the war.
… it is extraordinary to note that in the case of our country [DRC], it seems that all efforts are being made to portray the Congolese conflict as a war without external aggressors.
In the apparent complexity of the regional issues, the proposal of Kikwete appears to make a lot of sense. The fact which however appears more striking in his statement is the idea that he only understands the future of Congo under the Peace Framework Agreement. It would be pointless today to denounce the agreement in that legally speaking it is an empty shell, and that what matters are the various agreements to be signed by concerned parties in implementing the principles set out in the text. Consequently, and given this constraint, we would have expected the Tanzanian president to make any implementation of this agreement dependent on formal identification and naming of the aggressors of the DRC. Indeed, it is extraordinary to note that in the case of our country, it seems that all efforts are being made to portray the Congolese conflict as a war without external aggressors. If this logic is accepted, it becomes possible to use distorted rationales on the concept of aggression. The latter becomes futile or meaningless while at the same time it legitimizes the use of force against any nation. It appears therefore that the notion of armed aggression totally escapes the rules of international law in the case of the DRC.
In this context, it becomes possible for Kikwete to invite the Congolese government to negotiate with the M23, which he identifies as an endogenous rebellion to the DRC. Yet the Mapping Report, and this even if it appears more in its focus on addressing the issue of mass killings of Hutu populations in the DRC, as a text that was written to be an indictment tool against Kagame when the time of getting rid of him comes, has the merit of highlighting the direct involvement of Rwanda in the creation and formation of armed militias such as M23 which are active in the Kivu provinces. And also in the light of this exercise, it is reasonable to ask whether the Tanzanian president is simply an ignorant man, or if he is not looking through his statement for misleading the public about the role his own country plays in the plundering of Congolese minerals.
Indeed, Tanzania has been mentioned several times as one of the countries through which cassiterite transits illegally out of the DRC. Congolese blood minerals are exported to Tanzania through canoes, small boats across Lake Tanganyika, and we know also that, in some cases, these minerals which are produced in South Kivu are then transported to North Kivu from where they are sent to Rwanda and leave the African continent through the ports of Dar-es-Salaam and Mombasa. From this perspective, reducing the Congolese problem and that of the Great Lakes region to national issues allows to hide the chain of responsibility involving various African heads of states implicated in the Congolese tragedy.
… reducing the Congolese problem and that of the Great Lakes region to national issues allows to hide the chain of responsibility involving various African heads of states implicated in the Congolese tragedy.
Regarding the proposal of president Kikwete towards Kigali, it can be read as an invitation to Kagame to commit suicide. Although such comparison is not fully rational, this looks very much like the solicitation that Mandela did at the time of Mobutu asking the latter to negotiate with the AFDL of Laurent Kabila prior to his political death. Some would consider that Kigali cannot respond positively to this proposal, unless it is forced or compelled to, as the FDLR has always been, in fact, the motive that allowed Kigali to justify its criminal enterprise in Congo and maintain a policy of terror in Rwanda. In this sense, the intervention of Kikwete far from being an innovation only reinforces steadily the empty narrative line established by the RPF at the beginning of its takeover in Kigali, claiming that it is right to defend itself against “genocidaires,” who at the time of this write up, have be eliminated in big numbers during various incursions of the Rwandan army in Congo, or were imprisoned following reports or arrests by Kigali.
Courage would have also been to ask Rwanda to withdrew unilaterally from the Kivu provinces, to propose that this country be put under the supervision of several African responsible countries,…
The political courage would have dictated that Jakaya Kikwete first acknowledges the involvement of his own country in the Congolese tragedy; second he names the aggressors of the Congolese nation and says publicly that there is a genocide being perpetrated against the Congolese people. Courage would have also been to ask Rwanda to withdrew unilaterally from the Kivu provinces, to propose that this country be put under the supervision of several African responsible countries (?), that Kagame and his government of murderers be tried by an African original judiciary framework, that reparations be demanded from Rwanda and finally, that Rwanda, Uganda and Burundi be demilitarized given the years of terror they have sown in the Great Lakes region.
BK Kumbi is a Congolese historian and activist writing for the organization Don’t Be Blind This Time. This is a citizen movement informing people about the situation occurring in DR. Congo. Its objective is to support actions that help the Congolese people establish a lasting peace and live with dignity.