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Congo: U.N. troops start military action against Rwandan rebels FDLR

Dec 10 (Reuters) – United Nations peacekeeping troops in Democratic Republic of Congo have launched operations against a Rwandan Hutu rebel militia operating along Congo’s border with Rwanda, the U.N. commander said on Tuesday.

Defeating Rwandan FDLR insurgents, who have long been used as a pretext for intervention in Congo by neighbouring Rwanda, is seen as the next step in ending decades of conflict along the veteran foes’ shared border, weeks after the Congolese Tutsi-led M23 rebels were defeated.

General Carlos Alberto dos Santos Cruz said on U.N.-backed Radio Okapi on Tuesday that his troops would attack the FDLR rebel forces in a bid to secure a road between the eastern Congolese towns of Kitchanga and Pinga.

“Everyone knows that the presence of armed groups along the border creates problems with the neighbouring states,” he said.

In November, U.N. soldiers in a newly formed intervention brigade with a robust mandate supported the Congolese army with artillery and attack helicopters in defeating the M23 rebellion, the most serious in Congo in the last decade.

The brigade, made up of troops from South Africa, Tanzania and Malawi, will also lead operations against the FDLR, which has launched sporadic attacks in Rwanda in an attempt to destabilise Rwandan President Paul Kagame’s government.

The FDLR, is a Hutu, anti-Kigali rebel group sprung from militias operating out of eastern Congo since fleeing the 1994 genocide of 800,000 Tutsi and moderate Hutus.

“We have already intensified patrols and observation along the border and we are planning operations against all rebel positions along the frontier,” Dos Santos Cruz added.

At the start of December, the U.N. also unveiled surveillance drones that it will use to monitor the volatile border between Congo and its neighbours Rwanda and Uganda.

Pete Jones.

December 10, 2013   No Comments

Obama’s speech at Nelson Mandela service – Time for self-reflection

At Nelson Mandela’s memorial service Tuesday, President Barack Obama said the icon’s death should prompt a time for self-reflection.
Here is his full speech:
To Graça Machel and the Mandela family;
To President Zuma and members of the government;
To heads of states and government, past and present;
Distinguished guests;
It is a singular honor to be with you today, to celebrate a life like no other.
To the people of South Africa – (applause) – people of every race and walk of life – the world thanks you for sharing Nelson Mandela with us. His struggle was your struggle. His triumph was your triumph. Your dignity and your hope found expression in his life. And your freedom, your democracy is his cherished legacy.
It is hard to eulogize any man – to capture in words not just the facts and the dates that make a life, but the essential truth of a person – their private joys and sorrows; the quiet moments and unique qualities that illuminate someone’s soul. How much harder to do so for a giant of history, who moved a nation toward justice, and, in the process, moved billions around the world.Born during World War I, far from the corridors of power, a boy raised herding cattle and tutored by the elders of his Thembu tribe, Madiba would emerge as the last great liberator of the 20th century.

Like Gandhi, he would lead a resistance movement – a movement that at its start had little prospect for success. Like Dr. King, he would give potent voice to the claims of the oppressed and the moral necessity of racial justice. He would endure a brutal imprisonment that began in the time of Kennedy and Khrushchev, and reached the final days of the Cold War. Emerging from prison, without the force of arms, he would – like Abraham Lincoln – hold his country together when it threatened to break apart. And like America’s Founding Fathers, he would erect a constitutional order to preserve freedom for future generations – a commitment to democracy and rule of law ratified not only by his election, but by his willingness to step down from power after only one term.

Given the sweep of his life, the scope of his accomplishments, the adoration that he so rightly earned, it’s tempting I think to remember Nelson Mandela as an icon, smiling and serene, detached from the tawdry affairs of lesser men. But Madiba himself strongly resisted such a lifeless portrait. (Applause.) Instead, Madiba insisted on sharing with us his doubts and his fears; his miscalculations along with his victories. “I am not a saint,” he said, “unless you think of a saint as a sinner who keeps on trying.”

It was precisely because he could admit to imperfection – because he could be so full of good humor, even mischief, despite the heavy burdens he carried – that we loved him so. He was not a bust made of marble; he was a man of flesh and blood – a son and a husband, a father and a friend. And that’s why we learned so much from him, and that’s why we can learn from him still. For nothing he achieved was inevitable. In the arc of his life, we see a man who earned his place in history through struggle and shrewdness, and persistence and faith. He tells us what is possible not just in the pages of history books, but in our own lives as well.

Mandela showed us the power of action; of taking risks on behalf of our ideals. Perhaps Madiba was right that he inherited, “a proud rebelliousness, a stubborn sense of fairness” from his father. And we know he shared with millions of black and colored South Africans the anger born of, “a thousand slights, a thousand indignities, a thousand unremembered moments… a desire to fight the system that imprisoned my people,” he said.

But like other early giants of the ANC – the Sisulus and Tambos – Madiba disciplined his anger and channeled his desire to fight into organization, and platforms, and strategies for action, so men and women could stand up for their God-given dignity. Moreover, he accepted the consequences of his actions, knowing that standing up to powerful interests and injustice carries a price. “I have fought against white domination and I have fought against black domination. I’ve cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and [with] equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.”

Mandela taught us the power of action, but he also taught us the power of ideas; the importance of reason and arguments; the need to study not only those who you agree with, but also those who you don’t agree with. He understood that ideas cannot be contained by prison walls, or extinguished by a sniper’s bullet. He turned his trial into an indictment of apartheid because of his eloquence and his passion, but also because of his training as an advocate. He used decades in prison to sharpen his arguments, but also to spread his thirst for knowledge to others in the movement. And he learned the language and the customs of his oppressor so that one day he might better convey to them how their own freedom depend upon his.

Mandela demonstrated that action and ideas are not enough. No matter how right, they must be chiseled into law and institutions. He was practical, testing his beliefs against the hard surface of circumstance and history. On core principles he was unyielding, which is why he could rebuff offers of unconditional release, reminding the Apartheid regime that “prisoners cannot enter into contracts.”

But as he showed in painstaking negotiations to transfer power and draft new laws, he was not afraid to compromise for the sake of a larger goal. And because he was not only a leader of a movement but a skillful politician, the Constitution that emerged was worthy of this multiracial democracy, true to his vision of laws that protect minority as well as majority rights, and the precious freedoms of every South African.

And finally, Mandela understood the ties that bind the human spirit. There is a word in South Africa – Ubuntu – (applause) – a word that captures Mandela’s greatest gift: his recognition that we are all bound together in ways that are invisible to the eye; that there is a oneness to humanity; that we achieve ourselves by sharing ourselves with others, and caring for those around us.

We can never know how much of this sense was innate in him, or how much was shaped in a dark and solitary cell. But we remember the gestures, large and small – introducing his jailers as honored guests at his inauguration; taking a pitch in a Springbok uniform; turning his family’s heartbreak into a call to confront HIV/AIDS – that revealed the depth of his empathy and his understanding. He not only embodied Ubuntu, he taught millions to find that truth within themselves.

It took a man like Madiba to free not just the prisoner, but the jailer as well – (applause) – to show that you must trust others so that they may trust you; to teach that reconciliation is not a matter of ignoring a cruel past, but a means of confronting it with inclusion and generosity and truth. He changed laws, but he also changed hearts.

For the people of South Africa, for those he inspired around the globe, Madiba’s passing is rightly a time of mourning, and a time to celebrate a heroic life. But I believe it should also prompt in each of us a time for self-reflection. With honesty, regardless of our station or our circumstance, we must ask: How well have I applied his lessons in my own life? It’s a question I ask myself, as a man and as a President.

We know that, like South Africa, the United States had to overcome centuries of racial subjugation. As was true here, it took sacrifice – the sacrifice of countless people, known and unknown, to see the dawn of a new day. Michelle and I are beneficiaries of that struggle. (Applause.) But in America, and in South Africa, and in countries all around the globe, we cannot allow our progress to cloud the fact that our work is not yet done.

The struggles that follow the victory of formal equality or universal franchise may not be as filled with drama and moral clarity as those that came before, but they are no less important. For around the world today, we still see children suffering from hunger and disease. We still see run-down schools. We still see young people without prospects for the future. Around the world today, men and women are still imprisoned for their political beliefs, and are still persecuted for what they look like, and how they worship, and who they love. That is happening today.

And so we, too, must act on behalf of justice. We, too, must act on behalf of peace. There are too many people who happily embrace Madiba’s legacy of racial reconciliation, but passionately resist even modest reforms that would challenge chronic poverty and growing inequality. There are too many leaders who claim solidarity with Madiba’s struggle for freedom, but do not tolerate dissent from their own people. (Applause.) And there are too many of us on the sidelines, comfortable in complacency or cynicism when our voices must be heard.

The questions we face today – how to promote equality and justice; how to uphold freedom and human rights; how to end conflict and sectarian war – these things do not have easy answers. But there were no easy answers in front of that child born in World War I. Nelson Mandela reminds us that it always seems impossible until it is done. South Africa shows that is true. South Africa shows we can change, that we can choose a world defined not by our differences, but by our common hopes. We can choose a world defined not by conflict, but by peace and justice and opportunity.

We will never see the likes of Nelson Mandela again. But let me say to the young people of Africa and the young people around the world – you, too, can make his life’s work your own. Over 30 years ago, while still a student, I learned of Nelson Mandela and the struggles taking place in this beautiful land, and it stirred something in me. It woke me up to my responsibilities to others and to myself, and it set me on an improbable journey that finds me here today. And while I will always fall short of Madiba’s example, he makes me want to be a better man. (Applause.) He speaks to what’s best inside us.

After this great liberator is laid to rest, and when we have returned to our cities and villages and rejoined our daily routines, let us search for his strength. Let us search for his largeness of spirit somewhere inside of ourselves. And when the night grows dark, when injustice weighs heavy on our hearts, when our best-laid plans seem beyond our reach, let us think of Madiba and the words that brought him comfort within the four walls of his cell: “It matters not how strait the gate, how charged with punishments the scroll, I am the master of my fate: I am the captain of my soul.

What a magnificent soul it was. We will miss him deeply. May God bless the memory of Nelson Mandela. May God bless the people of South Africa.”

 

December 10, 2013   1 Comment

Paul Rusesabagena (PDR-IHUMURE) Urges Caution and Wisdom in Dealing with FDLR

November 25, 2013

Paul Rusesabagina
Paul Rusesabagina
315 Pleasant Knoll
San Antonio, TX 78260
E-mail:paulrusesabagina@yahoo.fr; info@pdrihumure.org
 
H.E. Mary Robinson,
U.N. Special Envoy to the Great Lakes Region of Africa
United Nations, New York, NY USA
 
H.E. Martin Kobler,
U.N. Special Representative and Head of MONUSCO United Nations, New York, USA
 
Hon. Russ Feingold,
U.S. Special Representative for the Great Lakes Region of Africa
Washington, DC USA

RE: PDR-IHUMURE URGES CAUTION AND WISDOM IN DEALING WITH FDLR

 

Your Excellencies:

1. I am coming before you as the President of the Party for Democracy in Rwanda (PDR- Ihumure), a political party that fights for truth, peace, justice and genuine reconciliation among Rwandans, and aims to return Rwanda from more than 2 decades of a permanent state of war and an implacable reign of terror to a time of appeasement and the rule of law.

2. On behalf of our membership inside and outside of Rwanda and the Rwandan refugee community across the globe, the leadership of the PDR-Ihumure has taken note of the recent developments regarding the defeat of M23 in eastern DRC (Democratic Republic of Congo) by the FARDC (Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of Congo) with the assistance of the MONUSCO Force Intervention Brigade, and urges you to seize the opportunity offered by the removal of M23 to exercise maximum caution and wisdom in dealing with the FDLR (Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda) issue in your quest for comprehensive peace in the Great Lakes Region of Africa, and in Rwanda in particular.

3. The issues underlying the crisis in eastern DRC and the entire Great Lakes Region are much more complex than the often-used pretext of the FDLR presence in DRC, which alone cannot account for over 2 decades of war crimes, crimes against humanity and even genocide by the Rwandan government army, including rapes of women and young girls, forced recruitment of child soldiers, the massive plunder of RDC mineral resources, and the killing of thousands of Rwandans and more than 7 million innocent Congolese, as fully documented by the U.N. Mapping Report, the Gersony Report, the U.N. Report of Experts on M23, and other reports.

4. In addition to being an armed group, the FDLR is also a Rwandan political party in exile among many others, and it has publicly stated its preference for direct negotiations with the Rwandan government over armed confrontation. Many of its members are said to be young men and women who were toddlers in 1994 or were born and raised in DRC over the last two decades.

Therefore, FDLR members are bona fide refugees like all of us who have scattered in many parts of Africa, Europe and America, and who have mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, and cousins living in Rwanda or as exiled refugees across the globe. Yet, over the last several years, the FDLR has been collectively demonized by the Rwandan government as a group of genocidaires, and whipped up repeatedly as the poster child for the entire Rwandan political opposition.

Available estimates put the total number of Rwandan refugees in DRC alone at around 50,000, and labeling FDLR as genocidaires is tantamount to categorizing all these refugees as genocidaires. That’s wrong.

5. Either in our party bylaws, at our Party Assessment Convention on December 15, 2012 in Brussels,  or  in  our  different  publications  and  on  many  other  occasions,  we  have unequivocally stated our opposition to any possible impunity for crimes of war, crimes against humanity, and the crime of genocide for anyone. If anyone within the FDRL is guilty of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity, they must be prosecuted. Likewise, those guilty of the same crimes within the RPF government must equally be prosecuted.

6. A careful examination of both FDLR and M23 clearly suggests that these are two different groups in terms of origin, history, cause, nature and composition, and consequently the two groups should not be equated or handled in similar fashion. On one hand, there is FDLR, a group of Rwandan refugees who include women, children and the elderly, and who, like all of us refugees, demand to be granted their full rights to return to their motherland without being threatened, and to enjoy their basic freedoms as citizens of their country, Rwanda.

In many ways, today’s FDLR is an exact replica of the RPF (Rwandan Patriotic Front) rebel group that invaded Rwanda from Uganda in 1990, waged war with the Rwandan government over 4 years before taking  power in July 1994.

The only difference is that the RPF was a Tutsi rebel group, while the FDLR is a Hutu rebel group. On the other hand, there is M23, a mixed group of Congolese and Rwandan outlaws and criminals, run by warlords from within the upper echelons of the RDF (Rwanda Defense Forces) and fully funded logistically, militarily, and financially by Rwanda to occupy and exploit the resources of eastern DRC, as documented by the U.N. Group of Experts on DRC’s Interim Report (S/2012/348).

A  majority  of  these  M23  outlaws  and  criminals  have  been granted a safe haven by Rwanda almost a month after their defeat by the FARDC. That is why recent public statements by multiple U.N. officials that FDLR will be attacked, disarmed and dismantled like M23 appear misguided, because the two groups are simply not the same. A different approach would seem best indicated in dealing with the fundamental issues at the root of the FDLR rebellion, a primarily Hutu organization being targeted for elimination by a predominantly  Tutsi  minority  military  dictatorship  in  Rwanda.  There  is  a  real  ethnic component to this issue that cannot be ignored or over-simplified.

7. As MONUSCO’s Force Intervention Brigade, in collaboration with all countries and partner organizations involved, prepares to disarm and dismantle the FDLR in the broader context of the peace process in eastern DRC, the Great Lakes Region of Africa and in Rwanda in particular, we think it would be wise to look carefully at the contours of the evolving political realities inside Rwanda today.

Since recently, there appears to be a growing radicalization of the RPF regime in Kigali against Hutus in a possible desperate effort to rally all Tutsi faithful around the regime and ward off a potential internal cracking of the ruling Tutsi coalition.

In a speech at a Youth Konnect event June 30, 2013, President Kagame openly asked Hutu youths nationwide to apologize for all killings committed “in their name” by Hutus against Tutsis during the 1994 genocide, despite the fact that criminal responsibility is personal rather than collective. Similarly, following a recent two-day cabinet retreat on the theme “I am Rwandan” (Ndi Umunyarwanda) that ended Saturday November 8, 2013 in Kigali under the leadership of President Kagame, members of government made the resolution that “The genocide against Tutsis was carried out in the name of Hutus, and so, for the sake of healing the  Rwandan  society,  it’s  necessary  for  those  in  whose  name  genocide  took  place  to apologize to those against whom it was carried out”, according to a press release issued by ORINFOR (Rwanda Information Office).

Unfortunately, these do not appear to be edicts that can speed up reconciliation and encourage the average Hutu refugee to go back to Rwanda, let alone FDLR members whom the Rwandan government regularly accuses of “harboring the ideology of genocide” and of wanting to “finish the job of genocide”. Rather, the general fear is that there is a re-engineering of Rwandan society underway, with a very troubling unconfessed goal of creating a generation of second-class subservient citizens bound down by the eternal shame and guilt of genocide.

All this is in addition to a well-documented situation of gross human rights violations that include persecution of political opponents whether real or perceived, arbitrary arrests and imprisonments, torture, disappearances, the stifling of the press, the hunting down of opponents in their countries of exile using death squads, etc. Clearly, this is not the kind of positive political vision that can heal scarred hearts and lead to a new united Rwanda.

8. Our PDR-Ihumure leadership – and the Rwandan political opposition in general – is fully aware of the possibilities of peace, justice, and democratic change ahead of us because of the  Intervention  Brigade.  The  idea  of  “direct”  Peace  Talks  between  the  government  of Rwanda and the Rwandan opposition (armed and non-armed), which was first proposed by Senator Russ Feingold in the summer of 2009 in a letter to then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and then echoed forcefully by Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete in May this year, before being endorsed by Belgian Deputy PM and Foreign Minister Didier Reynders, remains the best option in averting unnecessary bloodshed while putting an end to the Rwandan refugee problem and settling the Rwandan political crisis. This idea of peace talks has been called for many times by the FDLR and by the many political organizations in the opposition. It ought to be given utmost consideration.

9. Your Excellencies, because of its overwhelming success, we cannot tell you the immense admiration that the Force Intervention Brigade currently enjoys within not only Rwandan refugee communities across the globe but also within different communities from countries of the Great Lakes region of Africa. You should be very proud of the job you are doing.

We hope MONUSCO/FIB will not mar this success or reverse its gains by making ill-advised decisions based on an incorrect reading of the exact causes of the conflict and the proper way to address them. We want to take a moment here to salute the bravery, self-less sacrifice and outstanding service of the Tanzania, South Africa, and Malawi contingents of the Intervention Brigade. We are particularly beholden to the 3 Tanzanian officers who paid the ultimate price so that peace, justice and the rule of law may reign in our region.

10. Should you need our expertise, please know that the PDR-Ihumure is more than ready to contribute our ideas and technical experts, and help define priorities in bringing to an end the long-running conflict of the Great Lakes Region of Africa in a way that guarantees the security of all ethnic groups while fostering peaceful coexistence and economic prosperity.

 

Sincerely,

Paul Rusesabagina (Signed) President,
PDR-Ihumure

CC:

H.E. Ban Ki-moon
Secretary General, United Nations
New York, New York

H.E. Jacob Zuma
President of the Republic of South Africa President
Pretoria, South Africa

H.E. Jakaya Kikwete
President of the Republic of Tanzania
Dar es Salaam, Tanzania

H.E. Joyce Banda
President of the Republic of Malawi
Lilongwe, Malawi

H.E. Joseph Kabila
President of the Democratic Republic of Congo
Kinshasa, DRC

H.E. Dr. Nkosozana Dlamini Zuma
Chairperson, African Union Commission
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

H.E. Manuel Barroso
President, European Commission
Brussels, Belgium

Hon. John Kerry
Secretary of State,
USA Washington, DC

Hon. Didier Reynders
Deputy PM and Foreign Minister,
Brussels, Belgium

Hon. William Hague
Foreign Secretary,
UK London, UK

Dr. Stergomena Lawrence
Tax Executive Secretary,
SADC Gaborone, Botswana

Prof. Ntumba Luaba
Executive Secretary,
ICGLR Bujumbura, Burundi

November 27, 2013   No Comments

RDTJ: Call for Dialogue between Rwandan Governement and the FDLR

A SUPPORT FOR A HIGHLY INCLUSIVE DIALOGUE BETWEEN RWANDAN GOVERNMENT AND THE OPPOSITION, INCLUDING THE FDLR.

RDTJ-seauBased on the current situation in Great Lakes Region, different organisations and countries such as Tanzania and South Africa are on the right path for bringing peace in this area, highly suffered from ethnic conflicts. Only “A SINCERE DIALOGUE” between Rwandan government and its opposition can lead to the durable peace in the whole Great Lakes Region.

The path of dialogue is supported by the RDTJ, which is an organisation that strives to promote dialogue, truth, justice, reconciliation, peace, and unity among all Rwandans and, in addition, to advocate for the plight of Rwandan refugees. The RDTJ remains convinced that lasting peace in the Great Lakes region will come from an inclusive inter-Rwandan dialogue. The RDTJ supports the call made by President Kikwete, during a meeting on the side-lines of the African Union Summit in Addis Ababa, for Kagame regime to sit on the table of dialogue and negotiate with “Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR)” as well as other opposition parties and, actually, wishes to call international community to support this initiative.

This is one of means that can defeat the social division in Rwanda, superiority and ethnocentric as well as decentralisation of power in one ethnic group. This will enormously contribute to the sustainable peace and social progress in Rwanda, in particular, and Great Lakes region, in general. This call was echoed by Belgium Prime Minister Didier Reynders as well as regional and international organisations, namely the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) and the United Nations (UN).

Although this path of dialogue cannot be neither called nor expressed freely inside Rwanda due to the harsh regime on power which does not tolerate freedom of expression, the majority of Rwandans also have welcomed that peaceful way of solving problems. The RDTJ applauds the brave decision of the FDLR to recognise the value of dialogue and to publicly declare in its Memorandum addressed to the Permanent Representative of France in the United Security Council, dated 02 November 2013 its political willingness to come to the table of dialogue with the ruling party, Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF).

This decision illustrates that the FDLR is determined to find a solution to Rwandan political problems through a peaceful means. In reality, Rwanda has been characterised by political repression, social fragmentation, ethnic and armed conflict arising out of political competition between the main Rwandan ethnic groups: Hutu and Tutsi. Political and armed conflict have claimed millions of lives, harmed thousands, left many others with no option but to flee the country, and millions of survivors traumatised.

Since 1950s, there have been sporadic and horrible killings that always generated refugees. Today, Rwanda’s refugee problem has not been resolved. Instead of adopting dialogue and reconciliation, Rwandan government chose the route of eliminating the vocal refugees and asylum-seekers in the host countries. Yet, Rwandan political problems cannot be resolved by incarcerating, killing, and harassing all those who do not agree with Rwandan government, more precisely, opposition members. Peace, stability and development cannot be brought by oppressing and excluding Hutu community, on one hand, and suppressing Tutsi dissidents, on the other.

Rwanda will progress if we, as Rwandans, are willing to transcend ethnic division and political repression. Rwandans should share what they have, be it, political power or national resources, fairly and equitably. This can happen only through highly inclusive dialogue recently called by the FDLR. The issues related to development and governance should, henceforth, be open to free, inclusive, and intellectual debate. This will foster a free Rwandan society. So far, Rwanda has known one and only inclusive dialogue that took place between 1992 and 1993, known as ‘Arusha Peace Agreement’ of 1993.

The outcome of this dialogue was structured on five (5) pillars, namely, the establishment of the rule of law; power-sharing; repatriation and resettlement of refugees and internally displaced people; the integration of armed forces; and other miscellaneous provisions. However, this agreement was breached and disregarded by the RPF when it opted to assassinating former President Habyarimana, who has, at the time, started its implementation. Ever since, the RPF have objected to any suggestion of dialogue. It has however employed its human and material resources to ensure that no dialogue occurs in the future by abolishing ethnicity in Rwanda (ethnicity is still used to achieve political objectives), abolishing national symbols, and banning opposition political parties (which the RPF alleged to be extremist or terrorist political parties).

In addition, the RPF (mainly controlled by Tutsi minority) calls all Hutu (irrespective of their age) genocidaires, as President Paul Kagame expressed it many times in his speeches. In particular, Hutu politicians, activists, and liberation movements (such as FDLR, RNC, FDU-Inkingi) are called “terrorist groups.” A lot of energy has been spent on the campaign to forcefully repatriate refugees. The campaign revealed the RPF’s intent of the annihilation and suppression of all opponents in order to ensure absolute political and military control and, essentially, to consolidate power in the hands of the minority group.

The RPF vision goes beyond political life itself and, thus is aimed at its leaders’ power, glory, and happiness. In other words, it puts minority interest above national interest. The RDTJ calls upon Rwandan government not to use ethnicity to achieve its political objectives, but to recognise that Rwanda is a tri-nation comprises of Hutu, Tutsi and Twa, who should, on equal footing, participate in the Rwandan affairs and, equally, enjoy the rights, privileges, benefits, and opportunities associated to citizenship.

We, Hutu, Tutsi, and Twa, should join hand in hands and say “NO” to political and armed violence and build our nation, united in our diversity as proudly Rwandans. Dialogue and reconciliation has proved its meaningfulness in the countries, such as South Africa and Burundi. People live in harmony in these countries. In our country, we are calling each other names that seek to dehumanise and enigrate. For example, calling Hutus genocidaires and terrorists, which is an acceptable norm in Rwanda, seeks to foster social fragmentation and polarisation. It creates inferior and superior groups, which might result in liberation struggle from the bonds of Tutsi minority domination and oppression.

Hutu, Tutsi, and Twa are all Rwandan ethnic groups that are inherently created equal; they share the good and the bad; they are all victims and they are all survivors. In this context, they should move beyond the discourse and practice of excluding others on the construction of blame. Dialogue is an indispensable vehicle by which Rwandans can move beyond the current political impasse and thus pave the way for tomorrow Rwanda that accommodates all Rwandan children for everlasting peace.

The RDTJ reiterates its support for the call for dialogue between Rwandan government and the FDLR as well as other opposition parties. The RDTJ’s most ardent desire is that our beloved country, Rwanda, will recapture its historic opportunity for a peaceful progress and that Rwanda will prove to the world that even the most complex situations can be solved by ‘A HIGHLY INCLUSIVE DIALOGUE’ and not by MILITARY MEANS.

Done at Cape Town, South Africa, November 15, 2013.

For RDTJ National Executive Committee:

Callixte Kavuro – Chairperson

Jean Pierre Havugimana – Vice Chairperson

Epiphanie Mukasano, Secretary General

Stanislas Rwandarugari – Vice Secretary General

Joseph Twahirwa – Treasurer General

Josue Mbonigaba – Vice Treasurer General

Gaudance Uwizeye – Cultural Officer

Jean Chrisostome Kanamugire – Migration Officer

Alice Wamundiya – External Relations Officer

Chantal Uwamahoro – Advisor

 

Source: veritasinfo.fr

November 20, 2013   1 Comment

The Party PS Imberakuri decides on the ex-Secretary General Uwizeye Kansiime’s case and creates an Executive Secretary abroad

by Alexis Bakunzibake.
PRESSE RELEASE N° 019/P.S.IMB/013

RESOLUTIONS OF THE EXTRAORDINARY NATIONAL COUNCIL COMMITTEE OF THE PARTY P.S.IMBERAKURI HELD IN KIGALI, SEPTEMBER, 07 2013

Referring to the article 55 of the statute of the Social Party P.S IMBERAKURI such as published in Official Gazette n° 45 of 09/11/2009, the National Council of the party P.S IMBERAKURI held an extraordinary meeting on September 07, 2013 and took the following resolutions:
In a particular way:
1. Having analysed the problem in which the party was plunged to by the enemies of the democracy; noticing in particular the imprisonment of the Founder and President of the party, Me Bernard NTAGANDA who, like his fellows prisoners don’t have the basic rights of a human person; having been informed that Me Bernard NTAGANDA always continue to undergo ill treatment related in particular to the refusal of getting visit from his family and party militants, getting food adapted to his health condition as prescribed by his doctor and the refusal to go to hospital; the National Council of the party P.S IMBERAKURI firstly thank the leaders and militants of the party who continue to be faithful to the ideology of the ideals of democracy which is the goal of the party PS IMBERAKURI;

2. The National Council was pleased with the action made by the party in presenting its list of candidates to the upcoming legislatives elections although the electoral commission acting under the cupola of the government of the RPF in Kigali refused the list of the party PS IMBERAKURI;

3. The National Council examined the working manner of the leader bodies of the party and took the following resolutions:

 Having noted that the Secretary General of the party, Mrs Immaculate UWIZEYE KANSIIME who was sent in a working mission in Europe in January 2013 didn’t came back and didn’t give any explanation on the reason which forced her to not return; that she didn’t give any report of her mission; considering that the activities of the Secretary General are based in the country at the headquarter of the party; the National Council consider that Mrs Immaculate UWIZEYE KANSIIME has seriously failed to fulfil her obligations. Thus, the Council made the decision to inform to whom it may concern that Mrs Immaculate UWIZEYE KANSIIME can no longer engage the party any more putting in front the post of the Secretary General with which she was in charge;

 The National Council set up a commission with objective to support the committee to analyze the ways and means to reinforce the activities of the party. In its attribution, the commission will examine the reason which made that Mrs Immaculate UWIZEYE KANSIIME didn’t return. The commission will examine with her what the party can do for her or what she can do for the party where she is. The conclusions on the case of Mrs Immaculate UWIZEYE KANSIIME will be given to the National Council within two weeks. This commission is headed by Mr Jean-Claude NDAMIRA, President of the party in the capital town of Kigali and has one month mandate which starts at the signature of these resolutions. Its mandate should be renewed once taking into account the reason which the commission would explain to the National Council;

4. The National Council welcomed well the wish of the Founder and President to set up an Executive Secretariat charged to coordinate all the activities of the party outside of the country. The Council also approved the nomination of Mr Jean – Baptiste RYUMUGABE, current representative of PS IMBERAKURI in Europe to the coordination of this Executive Secretariat. The main objectives and attributions of the Executive Secretariat are contained in the press release n° 020/P.S.IMB/013 of September 15, 2013;

5. By closing his meeting, the National Council wished that accent be put on the actions of the party concerning the daily problems of the population, which are the leitmotiv which guided the IMBERAKURI to take the flambeau and work in peace so that the democracy be installed in Rwanda. The Council reiterated all its support so that the objectives of the party are achieved.

6. These resolutions shall come into force the day of the signature.

Done in Kigali, September, 15 2013
Alexis BAKUNZIBAKE
First Vice President

September 16, 2013   No Comments

Dispatches: Rwanda’s Green Party registered at last – but what does it really mean?

Green Party Founding President Frank Habineza

Green Party Founding President Frank Habineza

Today is the deadline for political parties to submit their lists of candidates for Rwanda’s parliamentary elections in September. Late Friday afternoon, the Rwanda Governance Board, the state body responsible for licensing political parties, granted registration to the Democratic Green Party of Rwanda, an opposition party which has been struggling to obtain this precious document for almost four years.

It’s good news, but with only a month left until polling day, how can the Green Party participate meaningfully in the elections?

Rwanda’s last three elections have all been characterized by a stark absence of opposition to the ruling Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF). The figures speak for themselves. President Paul Kagame won the 2003 presidential elections with a majority of more than 95 percent, and the 2010 elections with 93.08 percent. The RPF won the 2008 parliamentary elections with 78.76 percent of the vote, a figure that was reportedly revised downwards from around 98 percent to make the outcome look more credible.

The 2010 elections marked a low point, with a succession of attacks on opponents and critics. The Green Party’s vice-president, André Kagwa Rwisereka, was one of the victims. He was found dead, his body mutilated, on July 14, just weeks before the elections. Three years on, no one has been brought to justice for his murder. The party was devastated and effectively fell apart. It is only just beginning to get back on its feet again.

The leaders of two other opposition parties – Victoire Ingabire of the FDU-Inkingi and Bernard Ntaganda of the PS-Imberakuri – have been in prison since 2010. The FDU-Inkingi didn’t even manage to register. The PS-Imberakuri did, but was taken over by a faction favorable to the RPF. The faction loyal to Ntaganda has been paralysed by constant threats and intimidation.

Strictly speaking, the RPF is not the only party in Rwanda. Several others are represented in parliament and will be fielding candidates in next month’s elections. But these parties do not play the role of a political opposition. Not only do they not challenge the RPF, they actively support it. The upcoming elections appear to have generated little public interest in the country. Many Rwandans believe the outcome is a fait accompli.

If the Rwandan government wants to demonstrate its commitment to democracy, it will have to do more than register an already weakened party at the eleventh hour. When the state stops threatening, arresting and harassing opposition activists and putting administrative blocks in their way, then Rwandans can mark a victory for true democracy.

Source: Human Rights Watch

August 13, 2013   No Comments

Rwanda Says UN Ultimatum Threatened Congo Peace Talks

Rwandan Foreign Minister Louise Mushikiwabo gestures during an interview with The Associated Press at the Rwandan Embassy in Washington

Rwandan Foreign Minister Louise Mushikiwabo gestures during an interview

Rwanda said on Wednesday the decision by a U.N. intervention brigade to forcibly disarm people in a strategic zone of eastern Democratic Republic of Congo had surprised African leaders and risked jeopardizing peace talks.

The U.N. peacekeeping mission said on Tuesday it was setting up a security zone around Goma, which briefly fell into M23 hands last year, and would disarm, by force if needed, anyone carrying weapons after a 48-hour grace period.

“We’re worried that such a threat could have easily derailed the peace talks going on in Kampala,” Rwandan Foreign Minister Louise Mushikiwabo told reporters at a regional summit, speaking in English.

Mushikiwabo, whose country is widely believed to support the M23 rebellion, said leaders at the summit in Nairobi expressed their strong support for negotiations held in Uganda between Democratic Republic of Congo and M23 rebels.

Some diplomats, however, said the talks have stalled.

Rwanda denies backing M23. It has also alleged that commanders of the newly deployed special force with a mandate to neutralize armed groups like M23 have met with Rwandan Hutu rebels camped in eastern Congo’s borderlands.

The M23 rebels began taking large swaths of Congo’s volatile east early last year, accusing the central government of failing to honor a previous peace deal, and dealt a serious blow to the image of the U.N. MONUSCO peacekeepers.

The brief fall of Goma to the rebels prompted the formation of a more robust intervention brigade within MONUSCO.

MONUSCO said on Wednesday the security zone operation would not amount to an offensive targeting a specific armed group.

“This zone is to protect civilians,” said Lieutenant Colonel Prosper Basse, MONUSCO’s military spokesman.

Another U.N. source told Reuters the operation would try to clear up small pockets of M23 fighters who remained near Goma after the rebels were pushed several kilometers further north during recent clashes.

The latest flare-up in fighting between Congolese government forces and M23 earlier this month raised tensions again with Rwanda after Congo accused Rwandan specialist units of aiding M23 in the fighting.

“The renewed fighting raises concern over the commitment of the parties to the [Kampala] talks,” Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni told the summit. “We want them to resume and conclude quickly.”

The M23 rebels are demanding an amnesty and reintegration into the national army, as well as political concessions. Some delegates at the Nairobi summit said privately that a wide gulf still separated the two sides.

Rwanda on Tuesday dismissed U.S. charges it was supporting the rebellion, telling Reuters at the summit that leveling such accusations was unhelpful.

Congo’s foreign minister, Raymond Tshibanda, said, however, that the fact that the conflict was taking place in the east, far from the capital, “showed the importance of external factors to the conflict.”

Source: Reuters

August 1, 2013   1 Comment

Death Threat to President Kikwete and Advocacy for Collective Guilt of All Hutus Are Not Acceptable

Threatened: Tanzanian President, Jakaya-Kikwete

Threatened: Tanzanian President, Jakaya Kikwete

Speaking at an event dubbed « Youth Connect Dialogue » in Kigali, on June 30, 2013, once again, Gen. Paul Kagame shocked Rwandans, the Great Lakes region, Africa and the World when he called upon every Rwandan of Hutu descent to apologize for the crimes committed « in their name » during the 1994 Rwandan genocide and promised to hit his Tanzanian counterpart, President Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete and confront Tanzanian troops in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

The pretext for the Rwandan dictator to launch such criminal, uncivilized and ill-conceived verbal attacks against our Tanzanian neighbors is that President Kikwete suggested direct talks between the current Rwandan government and its opponents as a way of ending the recurrent instability in the East of the Democratic Republic of the Congo where Tanzanian forces are deployed as a part of the Special Intervention Brigade of MONUSCO to help restore peace in that region.

Paul Kagame’s utterances reveal once again the ethnocentric, supremacist, warmongering and criminal essence of the Rwandan Patriotic Front regime established in July 1994, whose manifestations are evident, be it in domestic issues or external relations.

His speech was neither accidental nor isolated. The event was organized by his wife’s foundation, the « Imbuto Foundation », who had selected the Hutu youth from all corners of the country including youth from the infamous Iwawa work camp located on Ijwi Island in the middle of Lake Kivu. It’s part of nationwide indoctrination campaigns organized by a State funded permanent structure in charge of RPF propaganda called « Itorero ry’Igihugu »

In April 2007, taking advantage of the climate surrounding the commemoration of the tragic 1994 Rwandan genocide, he publicly expressed regrets that his soldiers, that is, then Rwandan Patriotic Army, were unable to prevent the exodus of millions of Rwandan Hutu citizens to the East of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and hence couldn’t quench his thirst for revenge nor extinguish the anger he nourished at the time.

At the first graduation ceremony of the newly established « Rwanda Defence Forces Command and Staff College » in Nyakinama (Northern Province) on the 10th of June 2013, then while speaking to Musanze District residents, the following day on June 11, 2013, and later during a press conference held at Amahoro Stadium on the 15th of June 2013, he expressed his « deep contempt » for the Tanzanian Head of State whom he didn’t hesitate to call a « godfather for genocidaires » and an ignorant harbouring the genocide ideology.

These remarks must be treated with all the seriousness they deserve. Indeed, Paul Kagame is reported to have been involved in the murder of the Burundian first democratically elected President, the late Melchior Ndadaye, as well as in those of President Habyarimana of Rwanda and President Cyprien Ntaryamira of Burundi killed when the Rwandan presidential jet on board of which they were flying was shot down on April 6, 1994, while it was preparing to land at the Kigali International Airport, and in the murder of President Laurent Désiré Kabila of the Democratic Republic of the Congo who was shot in his office on January 16, 2001. Since 1994, any critic of the regime, be it a national or a foreigner, is labelled and treated as « an enemy of Rwanda », a « genocide denier » who deserves either death, imprisonment or forced exile.

For the National Council for Democratic Change, Paul Kagame’s threats to kill a foreign Head of State in office and his current diabolical campaign against all Rwandans of Hutu descent, present or to come, are not acceptable by any ethical, legal or political standards, national and international alike.

The National Council for Democratic Change condemns in the strongest terms Paul Kagame’s statements and calls upon all Rwandans to mobilize, organize and join forces with all well-wishers, across the region, the continent and all over the world so that Rwanda and the Great Lakes region can get rid of such a tyrant, which will allow our peoples to achieve the democratic, inclusive, stable, peaceful and prosperous dispensation that they deserve.

Done at Sion,

July 7, 2013

For the NCDC,

General Emmanuel HABYARIMANA

President

Source: NCDC Press Release

July 11, 2013   2 Comments

Exclusive: Fearing death, Congo’s ‘Terminator’ fled with help of family

Congolese warlord Bosco Ntaganda looks on during his first appearance before judges at the ICC

Congolese warlord Bosco Ntaganda looks on during his first appearance before judges at the ICC

Facing defeat by a rival rebel and fearing death at the hands of Rwandan troops, Congolese warlord Bosco Ntaganda quietly slipped into Rwanda on a small path with a single escort to turn himself in at the U.S. Embassy in Kigali, according to a U.N. report.

Details of the March 18 surrender of Ntaganda, who evaded arrest on international war crimes charges for seven years, were contained in the confidential interim report by the U.N. Group of Experts to the Security Council’s Congo sanctions committee. The report was seen by Reuters on Friday.

Ntaganda, a Rwandan-born Tutsi rebel known as “the Terminator,” is accused of murder, rape, sexual slavery and recruiting child soldiers during 15 years of rebellion in resource-rich eastern Democratic Republic of Congo.

It was not known how Ntaganda made his way from eastern Congo to the Rwandan capital, where he had simply walked into the U.S. Embassy and asked diplomats to transfer him to the International Criminal Court in The Hague.

The U.N. experts said his secret three-day journey followed after a violent split in the M23 rebel group weeks earlier. Ntaganda’s defeat by rival M23 commander Sultani Makenga was aided by Rwandan officials and demobilized Rwandan soldiers, said the report.

Ntaganda “clandestinely crossed the border into Rwanda using a small path in the Gasizi area with one escort,” it said.

“He reached Kigali with the help of his family and arrived at the United States Embassy on 18 March where he requested to be transferred to the ICC without prior knowledge of Rwandan authorities,” according to the 43-page report.

Rwanda subsequently arrested an individual accused of helping Ntaganda escape and interrogated the warlord’s wife and brother, the experts said.

The career of Ntaganda, who has fought for rebels, militias and armies in both Rwanda and Congo in the last 20 years, reflects the tangled and shifting allegiances of a territory that has been repeatedly traumatized by genocide and violence.

Ntaganda said he was not guilty of war crimes during his first appearance at the International Criminal Court in March.

M23 is a Tutsi-dominated group of former Congolese soldiers that has demanded political concessions from President Joseph Kabila’s government.

M23 CRIPPLED AFTER NTAGANDA DEFEAT

The U.N. experts report in October named Ntaganda as the leader controlling the M23 rebellion on the ground and added that he and other commanders received “direct military orders” from senior Rwandan military figures acting under instructions from Defense Minister James Kabarebe.

Rwanda vehemently denied supporting the M23, accusing the world of trying to blame it for Congo’s unremitting troubles.

The latest experts report found “continuous – but limited – support to M23 from within Rwanda” and cooperation between elements of the Congolese military and a Rwandan Hutu rebel group against the M23 rebels.

Ntaganda had a network of contacts within Rwanda that he used to support his M23 faction against Makenga after the pair had disagreed over the management of M23, the experts said.

“To halt Ntaganda’s activities, Rwandan authorities arrested some of the individuals who were part of this network,” the experts said.

“Some Rwandan officers also provided limited material support to Makenga as he sought to defeat Ntaganda,” found the report. “While some Rwandan officers had ensured Ntaganda of their assistance, in reality they had decide to support Makenga.

“Rwandan officers also fed disinformation to Ntaganda which precipitated his defeat. Former M23 soldiers who fought alongside Ntaganda reported that soldiers of the (Rwandan Defense Force) special forces that were deployed along the border provided Ntaganda with ammunition at the outset of fighting, which made him believe that he enjoyed RDF support.”

As his troops began to run low on ammunition after two weeks of fighting, Ntaganda fled into Rwanda, where he feared Rwandan soldiers deployed on the border would kill him. The U.N. experts said that Makenga had also ordered his troops kill Ntaganda.

It was estimated that about 200 rebels from both sides were killed during the M23 split, the report said. Almost 800 rebels loyal to Ntaganda also fled into Rwanda after their defeat. The experts said Makenga was left with some 1,500 fighters spread across a 270 square mile area (700 sq km).

“Moreover M23 has lost the support of leaders and communities which had supported Ntaganda in northern Rwanda and stopped benefiting from the recruitment and financial networks he had established,” the report said.

“The movement is unable to control its entire territory and suffers from poor morale and scores of desertions,” it said.

Source: Reuters

July 1, 2013   No Comments

Which way for Rwanda? Three scenarios

David Himbara

David Himbara

By David Himbara

With a troubled history of transition from one ruler to the next, Rwanda is once again at the crossroad. Posturing and not genuine debate on what lies towards and beyond 2017 is the order of the day. Open and honest discussion is alien to the land of a thousand hills. I am sharing here three possible scenarios on what might transpire in future – from the “dream outcome” to “doomsday.” I love to hear your thoughts on this matter.

* Scenario 1 – Dream Outcome or the Burma’s Miracle

The “Dream Outcome” or the “Burma Miracle” refers to what is taking place in that country in the recent past. The deeply-entrenched Burmese dictatorship somehow became wiser and started to play less suicidal politics. For example the regime released in November 2010 the opposition leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, from a 15-year detention. Aung San Suu Kyi is now reviving her political party in a country that is rehabilitated both regionally and internationally. The Burma route for Rwanda would see the current regime sharply change course by freeing political prisoners and adopting a culture of dialogue. The iron-fisted approach to politics would be tamed leading to electoral competition with zero possibility for life-presidency via constitutional manipulation in 2017.

* Scenario 2 – Less Violent Benevolent Dictatorship for Self-preservation

In this scenario, the current regime would attempt to save itself as “a benevolent dictatorship” that exercises power not for the good of the ruling elites and cronies but for “the good of citizens.” The regime would open to its critics, get rid of hard-liners, get out of private business monopolies, and generally present itself as a humble governor on behalf of “the people.” The regime would appease its critics but not go the distance of competitive politics. The incumbent head of state would not run in 2017 but would field a stooge that is manipulated from behind the scene. This scenario would buy the regime a bit of time in terms of survival even beyond 2017 in different guise.

* Scenario 3 – Doomsday and Descent into “Invincibility”

In this scenario, the current regime would change the constitution to allow the incumbent head of state to become dictator-for-life. This would result into the hardening of iron-fist politics. Believing to be incapable of being overcome or defeated or “unconquerable,” the regime would become even more drunk with power. Like in the cartoon character “invincible” the regime would see itself as possessing superhuman strength. This is doomsday because the end in unpredictable subject to the laws of gravity. Whatever goes up comes down.

Dear readers, what do you see ahead for Rwanda out of three scenarios? Do you see other scenarios? Share your views privately or in the open forum.

Source: The Rwandan

July 1, 2013   No Comments