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Nyamagabe district, Rwanda: Care International trains couples on solving conflicts

Care International trains couples on solving conflicts

Care International trains couples on solving conflicts

Couples being taught on living in harmony

Care International Rwanda has organized training dubbed “Urugendo rw’Impinduka” for the 60 couples from Tare sector in Nyamagabe district.

The two and a half months training that started on May 3rd 2013 is meant for couples that have problems in their relationships selected in all cells that make Tare sector.

Women and their husbands are put into small groups to help them understand the teachings better.

The executive secretary for the Tare sector, Bayiringire stresses that much is expected from the training.

“We are optimistic that couples will be able to make right decisions and change their behavior,” Bayiringire highlights.

Among the issues expected to resolve after training are family violence, property inheritance, children raising and sensitizing couples to access loans from financial institutions, start projects and save.

Source: Rwanda News

May 7, 2013   No Comments

Former M23 chairman: ‘I cannot do politics on Rwandan soil’

Jean-Marie Runiga (L) talks to the Minister in charge of refugees, Mukantabana, during a tour of Ngoma internment camp

Jean-Marie Runiga (L) talks to the Minister in charge of refugees, Mukantabana

On March 23, 2012, a mu­tiny was born in the DRC, which adopted the name M23. The armed rebel-group was led by a duo of outspoken person­alities: the army Chief of staff Brig Gen Sultan Makenga (then Colo­nel) and the head-politician (chair­man) of the group, Bishop Jean-Marie Runiga. The two icons had a tight relationship, and declared to be fighting for one cause: peace in the Eastern DRC, and the safe­ty of the Congolese Kinyarwanda speaking community.

Almost a year later (February 27), Runiga was overthrown by the mutiny’s Military High Command chaired by Makenga. The reason: accusations towards the head-pol­itician of financial embezzlement, division, deceit, ethnic hatred and political immaturity.

Following the break-up, it was reported that forces loyal to Runi­ga attacked the Makenga side kill­ing soldiers as well as civilians in Rutshuru (where Makenga was then based). In the end, Runiga and his loyalists fled to Rwanda, in the night of March 14-15on the eve of their group’s first anniversary.

In Rwanda, Runiga and his group, including Brig Gen Baudu­in Ngaruye, were disarmed and placed under internment subject to a period of verification to see if they really have renounced to their military activities. The former fighters and politicians are there­after moved to Ngoma internment camp in Eastern Rwanda miles from the Eastern DRC.

It is there that we find Runiga, in a back suit, white shirt and red tie, as he prepares to receive a del­egation of ambas­sadors and other diplomats accred­ited to Rwanda. “We decided to flee to Rwanda because it was the nearest countries to our positions (Kibum­ba). Had we been near Uganda, An­gola or any other country, we would have gone there,” Runiga says in impeccable French.

Concerning the break-up of M23, Runiga blames it on Makenga’s side being corrupted by Kinshasa. “The Kinshasa government had done all to tear us apart. This was because we didn’t have a support. Of course, people will say that our presence in Rwanda now confirms the reports that the government here supported us but let me tell you, if we would have been sup­ported by Rwanda, we wouldn’t have arrived here. The infighting occurred, because we were out of means, which made it possible for Kinshasa to corrupt the others.”

Yet that doesn’t mean that he has given up hope to play a role in his country. “We have abandoned the military activities, but on the politi­cal side, we have a plan for the Con­golese society and we will continue to defend them,” Runiga says.

For former M23 head-politician, the cycles of violence and hostili­ties in the DRC are symptoms of a bigger problem. “The real causes are the lack of a responsible and visionary leadership, poor gover­nance, the lack of a government which can create an army able of maintaining internal and external security. The DRC’s problems are political,” he observes.

‘I have never believed in war’

Runiga says that his return to DRC depends on the political and security climate. “I have never be­lieved in war. The armed fight­ing cannot be an end to the DRC’s problems. We have been disarmed and renounced to military activi­ties. However, we’ll continue the political fight. If conditions allow, I will go back to play the democratic game with my fellow Congolese. I cannot do politics on Rwandan soil.”

For Runiga, it is clear that the allegations of external forces are nonsense, it is the system which is the enemy. “What happened to the M23 is a hiccup. It’s the fruit of a corruption initiated by a govern­ment which is unable of solving the problems of its citizens. Instead of solving the is­sue, they pre­fer dealing with the conse­quences.”

Concerning the UN Secu­rity Council sending a bri­gade to fight the armed reb­els in the East­ern DRC, M23 included, Runi­ga sees it as a non-effective solution.

“There are some armed groups which are backed by the Congolese army (FARDC). Will the brigade also fight the FARDC and its al­lies? I don’t think so. The chances for the UN Brigade to succeed are narrow. Even if it the brigade van­quished all the mutinies in the area, that’s not the real problem! The real problem is lack of leadership, and those rebels are just consequences. Why are people not focusing on the causes rather than consequences? Armed fights are nothing but re­sults of a bad leadership. The Se­curity Council is not seeking non-lasting solutions.”

Source: Rwanda Focus

May 7, 2013   No Comments

Analysis: Congo rebels prepare to face U.N. force with mandate to attack

M23 soldiers stand at parade at Rumangabo military camp, a former government installation seized last year du ring the fighting, April 27, 2013

M23 soldiers stand at parade at Rumangabo military camp

In forested hills in eastern Congo, rebels are honing their ambush skills to prepare to face a new United Nations force which has a mandate to go on the offensive.

“Destroy the enemy. Cause fear and stop his patrols,” a rebel officer wrote on a blackboard as he instructed uniformed M23 fighters at a camp seized from the government in Democratic Republic of Congo’s eastern borderlands.

In the latest effort to bring peace to a region riven for years by conflict over ethnic rivalry and mineral riches, the United Nations is deploying a 3,000-strong brigade of African troops with a mission of neutralizing armed groups such as M23.

Approved by the Security Council in March for “targeted offensive operations”, the brigade from South Africa, Tanzania and Malawi is the first to be created within a traditional peacekeeping force. A 17,000-strong existing U.N. force, MONUSCO, has struggled to maintain security in eastern Congo.

If the M23 rebels, who emerged last year from a Tutsi-led rebellion in 2004-2009, fear the new U.N. Force Intervention Brigade, they are not showing it.

They routed U.N.-backed Congolese troops and briefly seized the North Kivu provincial capital of Goma in November, an embarrassment for President Joseph Kabila and the United Nations.

M23 spokesman Colonel Vianney Kazarama said the rebel group, which is demanding political concessions from Kabila’s government, had no plans to attack U.N. peacekeepers. But if targeted, it would respond.

“You’ll see, we’re going to capture them, destroy their equipment, march over their forces,” Kazarama said.

At the captured government camp, rebels paraded and put on a show of hand-to-hand combat in the bush grass.

Military experts say the brigade could find itself severely stretched in its mission to neutralize and disarm the M23 and other armed groups.

M23 is well-trained and well-armed. U.N. experts say it is backed by Rwanda and Uganda although both countries deny it.

FDLR rebels, the remnants of Hutu killers who carried out the 1994 genocide of Tutsis in Rwanda, and other militias also roam the green hills and valleys of North Kivu.

“It’s a complex mission. From a tactical point of view this is a logistical nightmare because you don’t know who’s who in the zoo from one day to the next,” said Helmoed Romer Heitman, a South African military analyst.

He questioned whether the U.N. brigade, which will include about 1,000 South African troops and an equal number from Tanzania and Malawi, would big and strong enough.

“The overall U.N. mission is not properly conceived. I think the force is too small and there is a certain amount of wishful thinking,” Heitman told Reuters in Pretoria.

“PEACE AT ANY PRICE”

South African military spokesman Xolani Mabanga said the numbers were in line with recommendations.

“We are happy with the size of the force,” he said.

South Africa’s armed forces are already smarting from the deaths of 13 soldiers in March in Central African Republic when anti-government rebels confronted a 200-strong South African contingent deployed there under a defense agreement.

This has increased the political sensitivity of South Africa’s participation in the Congo.

M23 have shown signs of being rattled, appealing against South Africa’s involvement with a mixture of threats and entreaties to pan-African solidarity.

“They’re scared of the brigade. They call meetings to tell the population to reject it,” student Guillaume Muchuti told Reuters in the M23-held town of Rutshuru, north of Goma.

Tanzania also brushed off threats from M23 that it will target its soldiers if they join the U.N. mission.

“We are not going to Congo as lords of war, we are going there as advocates of peace to help our neighbors,” Tanzanian Foreign Minister Bernard Membe told parliament.

M23 officials privately admit their force’s numbers have been reduced by months of infighting between rival factions. Congo’s army estimates the rebels’ strength at around 1,000.

This led to one leader, Bosco Ntaganda, surrendering to the International Criminal Court to face war crimes charges.

Despite seizing tons of ammunition and scores of vehicles when it occupied Goma, M23 is running short of cash to pay its fighters, rebel sources say. MONUSCO says it has received a steady stream of deserters.

Kabila’s government, whose weak and indisciplined army has struggled to contain rebels in the east and is accused by rights groups of rapes and abuses against civilians, welcomes the new U.N. brigade.

Government spokesman Lambert Mende says Kinshasa would like a negotiated peace with M23, but, failing that, hopes the African peacekeepers’ robust mandate can have a real impact.

U.N. officials caution that while the intervention brigade is expected to be a deterrent to violence in North Kivu, it will not be a “magic wand” for bringing peace.

“It’s not as if they’re going to come and start shooting on the first day. The objective is to contain and neutralize and disarm armed groups. If we can do that without firing a shot, everyone will be very happy,” said Alex Queval, head of MONUSCO in North Kivu province.

NEED FOR POLITICAL SOLUTION

Former Irish president Mary Robinson, who was appointed U.N. special envoy to the Great Lakes region in March, toured last week to encourage implementation of a U.N.-mediated peace plan for the eastern Congo signed by 11 countries in February.

“There’s no doubt these armed groups need to be dealt with, but I think it’s important that this does not become a focus on a military solution,” she said in Goma.

M23 was not part of the February pact and its own separate peace negotiations with the Congolese government have stalled, amid signs that Kinshasa is reluctant to implement vague promises of national political dialogue and decentralization.

Maria Lange, country head of advocacy group International Alert, says that even if the U.N. brigade makes short-term gains, this may not guarantee lasting solutions. The brigade would allow the government to pursue a military solution.

“They’ve been liberated from the obligation to actually conduct talks and address underlying governance problems,” Lange told Reuters. “This brigade risks at best being ineffective, or at worst, will lead to an escalation of the situation.

There are fears too the government will not carry out much-needed reforms of its security forces, Lange added.

U.N. troops have faced protests in the past by Congolerse civilians angry about what they see as the peacekeepers’ failure to protect them from abuses by armed groups.

“The last hope we have is for this brigade, we’re waiting for them. But I don’t have much faith,” said Innocent Bisimungu.

His parents were hacked to death by Hutu rebels in 1998 and now he lives in a zone under the control of the Tutsi-led M23.

“I was born in conflict and I grew up in conflict. We’ve never known anything else,” he said wearily.

Source: Reuters

May 7, 2013   1 Comment