(Reporter’s name unknown)
Photo: President Kagame (centre in glasses) in a group photo with other Heads of State and Government in Addis Ababa yesterday. The New Times/ Village Urugwiro.
President Paul Kagame has called for an immediate end to the continuous impunity of the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (F DLR) militia, operating in eastern DR Congo.
The President was speaking at the opening of the 22nd Ordinary Summit of the Heads of State and Government in Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa yesterday.
His remarks followed a discussion and presentation of various reports, including the report by the Peace and Security Council.
“Despite the welcome agreement signed between the government of DRC and M23, an armed group behind the 1994 Genocide of the Tutsi in Rwanda, the FDLR, remains untackled, even though it is the bedrock of instability in our region. Rwanda requests this gathering to urge and follow up the end of the FDLR threat to Rwanda and the region,” the head of state said.
Kagame underscored the importance of Africa solving its peace and security issues across the continent.
“There is increasing evidence of Africa’s genuine commitment to manage our own security crises. But a lot more could be done, if together, we redoubled our efforts to confront instability; the single biggest obstacle to the prosperity we all aspire to,” he said.
President Kagame also urged all member states to keep in mind the central purpose of peacekeeping missions.
Genocide a reminder of reality
His call comes amid an ongoing conflict in South Sudan and the Central African Republic.
“Whatever the stated mandate, the protection of civilians should always be at the heart of our interventions. In Rwanda, we learned the hard way that this seemingly evident principle does not always translate into corresponding behaviour on the ground. The 1994 Genocide that we commemorate this year for the 20th time is one important reminder of this reality,” Kagame said.
Rwanda has contributed peacekeepers to several countries, including Sudan, South Sudan and, more recently, Central African Republic.
Yesterday’s discussion was preceded by a hand over ceremony of the AU chairmanship from Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn to President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz of Mauritania.
In his handover speech, Prime Minister Hailemariam thanked all African Union members for their support and urged them to work towards a dignified Africa.
“Let us strive to achieve our collective vision of a peaceful, integrated and prosperous Africa.”
President Kagame, who is accompanied by First Lady Jeannette Kagame and Foreign Affairs minister Louise Mushikiwabo, later held a bilateral meeting with Prime Minister Hailemariam.
Contact email: firstname.lastname@example.org
source: The New Times
by Shifa MWESIGYE, 08/09/2013
Photo: M23 rebel fighters. File photo.
Image by: JAMES AKENA / REUTERS
The rebel M23 group have agreed to resume talks with Kinshasa in Munyonyo, in three days, time, after a respite in fighting in eastern DR Congo.
Regional leaders, meeting in Munyonyo, Kampala, last week, had given the rebels a 14-day ultimatum to conclude the talks. The rebels, who had protested the resumption of fighting back home, are now understood to have indicated a willingness to talk, according news agency reports at the weekend.
M23 leader Bertrand Bisimwa was reportedly angry that the UN and Kinshasa ignored the talks and resumed the fighting, attacking his bases. The latest ultimatum followed an extra-ordinary meeting of the chiefs of defence forces and Foreign Affairs at the Commonwealth Resort Munyonyo, last week. The meeting also had representatives of the M23 and DR Congo.
After the meeting, President Museveni, who heads the regional peace effort, said:
“Dialogue between the two parties if carried forward, we can get M23 to come out peacefully so that UN forces deal with the other criminal forces that have been in Congo for years.”
The meeting resolved that as the dialogue resumes, the forces ensure maximum restraint on the ground to allow for talks to conclude. They also want M23 to end all military activities and stop war and threats to overthrow the Kinshasa government.
The delegates pledged to continue exerting pressure on the M23 and all other negative forces in eastern DRC to ensure that the war stops. They also requested the UN to find a definitive solution to the former M23 combatants interned in eastern Rwanda since March 2013.
U.S., UN Urge Congolese, Rwandan Restraint
Sudan News Agency (Khartoum), 08/09/13
Kigali — United States special envoy to the Great Lakes region of Africa, former senator Russ Feingold, and United Nations counterpart Mary Robinson are in Rwanda on the last leg of a four-day trip to promote peace in the region.
Sounding upbeat about peace prospects and warning all sides against further military action, their joint visit came as Great Lakes regional leaders agreed this week that peace talks between the Democratic Republic of Congo’s government and M23 rebels should resume in Kampala within days.…read more
Congo-Kinshasa: Congo to Return to Negotiations With Rebels
The New Vision 08/09/13
Kinshasa — Democratic Republic of Congo said it would return to negotiations with eastern rebels next week after regional leaders set a two-week deadline for peace talks to end an 18-month-old rebellion.
A summit of five African presidents from the Great Lakes region called on Thursday for Congo to restart the stalled talks with the M23 insurgents within three days, after military successes left the government in a stronger position.…read more
THE NEW TIMES
23. August 2013
by Lonzen RUGIRA
Photo: Eric Kamba (Before It’s News)
I read with consternation an article titled “How Rwanda threatens its future’ by David Kampf which was published in The New York Times on August 16, in which he urges the international community to put pressure on Rwanda due to what he calls interference in the Congo.
He argues that because of Rwanda’s “longstanding ethnic rivalry,” its interference in the Congo is motivated by a “desire to create a protective buffer along the border.” He also points to a second motivation of wanting to control that country’s minerals.
For the uninformed of the western world, these may appear to be plausible assertions, especially since the person making them spent at least two years in Rwanda, from 2006 to 2008. The logic underlying his assertions, however, is problematic.
His point of departure that ‘collective guilt over the 1994 genocide’ resulted in the international community treating Rwanda with kid gloves is at best insensitive, at worst offensive.
Rwanda is unequalled in the region, possibly in Africa, in its management and use of aid. It is not merely guilt; it is the value for money donors get for their buck. There are also questions about the integrity of the NYT and its attitude towards Rwanda and Rwandans.
It is highly unlikely that it would publish an article in which the author calls on the Jews and Israel to stop the guilt trip and ‘get over the Holocaust.’ It is as if to say “Rwandans are Africans, after all” and to imply that somehow genocide against Africans can be minimised.
The idea that Rwanda interferes with the Congo because of the supposed Hutu-Tutsi rivalry is silly and naïve, to say the least. That Rwanda would go all the way to Congo to “create a protective buffer” against “the Hutu” when millions of them live inside the country is illogical.
And even if what he had in mind were the FDLR, all Rwanda has to do is tighten up on its internal security. The idea that only a buffer can contain the FDLR is therefore nonsensical. In fact, if the buffer was against genocidaires, it would have to be legitimate and warranted.
There is also the implied argument, which promotes the idea that the rebels in the Congo are merely ordinary Hutus – presumably fighting for some legitimate cause.
I don’t really know if the Rwandan army is in the DRC. What I can say is that if its not, then it ought to be. That is because no responsible government would accept the presence of an armed force, with an expressed intent to eliminate part of its population and an experience of slaughter, right across its border.
If any idea was powerful in the past decade, it was the Bush doctrine – the legitimacy of preemptive self-defence when faced with an existential threat, such as Al-Qaida terrorism in the American context and FDLR terrorism in the Rwandan context.
Despite the credit, this idea was not invented by Bush; it was originated and perfected as a foreign policy tool by the Jewish state.
Another way to minimise the genocidal threat faced by Rwanda is to argue that Rwanda’s ‘interference’ with the Congo is motivated by the pursuit of minerals.
Try to understand. Poor governance fuels wars, which sustain themselves through resource competition. Militias take control of the trade in minerals to buy guns from arms dealers under the connivance of international capital.
This cycle can only be stopped by an effective state that is able to police its entire territory and win the trust of its citizenry. This is the only way Congo will control its vast mineral resources. Kampf is right on this point, however: Rwanda cannot be blamed for Congo’s problems, its ‘inept and corrupt governance.’
Kampf is also right that Rwanda has made tremendous progress since the genocide in 1994. But it is in elaborating this point that he speaks from both sides of his mouth.
He calls for international sanctions against the government while admitting that the brunt of the hardships would fall on the ordinary Rwandans, and that the tremendous socioeconomic gains – in health and livelihood – would likely be reversed.
Yet, he still prefers sanctions to induce behavioral change. With friends like these who needs enemies?
It doesn’t take a genius to figure out the tradeoff. On one side is an existential threat and on the other is a threat of sanctions. No friend of Rwanda should wish for such a scenario.
And then the oft beaten drum: democracy. Kampf thinks that Rwanda’s progress is stunted by the supposed controls on civil liberties – human rights, freedom of expression and of the media, and political exclusion. So, is the country making tremendous progress or is it stunted?
He is also convinced that the country is ready to “explode” once Kagame leaves power. While he is entitled to his opinion, he should remember that there are millions of Rwandans in Rwanda whose interest in long-term peace and stability is enough to ensure that his fantasies will remain fantasies.
Clearly Rwanda is not a conventional multi-party democracy the likes of David Kampf are familiar with and would like to impose on everyone. But is its politics exclusionary?
For narrow-minded analysts unable to see beyond what is familiar, that certainly is how things look. However, as Frederick Golooba-Mutebi argued in The East African recently, post-genocide Rwanda has chosen the politics of accommodation over contestation.
Rwandans learned from the multiparty politics of the 1990s that competitive winner-take-all politics was bad for cohesion and harmony, and deciding on a consensus-based approach that favours power sharing.
As he demonstrated, politics in Rwanda would be exclusionary under a winner-take-all political system the likes of David Kampf want to impose on it, but which Rwanda’s leadership rejects.
Will the system change to suit the preferences of Western lesson givers of the David Kampf ilk? It is up to Rwandans, not patronising outsiders, to decide
VOICE OF AMERICA (Washington, DC)
by Nick LONG, 23. August 2013
Photo: UN NEWS SERVICE
Goma — The United Nations Intervention Brigade in the Democratic Republic of Congo, a new-style U.N. peacekeeping force with a uniquely robust mandate, has finally started fighting, the DRC government said Friday.
The force of more than 3,000 troops, mainly from Tanzania and South Africa, has been in eastern Congo for nearly three months and on Thursday opened fire on the M23 rebels.
This was the moment many people in eastern Congo had been waiting for …read more
UN NEWS SERVICE
24, August 2013
Warring Parties in Eastern DR Congo Must Protect Civilians, UN Agencies Urge
United Nations humanitarian agencies in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) strongly condemned the attacks that killed and wounded a number of civilians today as fighting flared between Government and rebel forces near the eastern city of Goma, and urged the parties to “take all precautions” to avoid such acts, and to allow access to relief workers.
“I condemn all attacks causing deaths and injuries among the civilian population, and remind all parties to the conflict that the indiscriminate or deliberate attack against civilians is a war crime”, said the UN Humanitarian Coordinator in DRC, Moustapha Soumare.…read more
GUARDIAN GLOBAL DEVELOPMENT NETWORK (London)
Photo: Arne Hodalic/UNHCR
by Mary ROBINSON 12. August 2013
Women have suffered most as a result of conflict in DRC and the Great Lakes region – their voices must be heard
Not a week goes by without reports of fresh fighting in the eastern areas of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Violence and destruction have ravaged the Great Lakes region of Africa for two decades, claiming more than 5 million lives. Yet the situation rarely makes the headlines.
What strikes me is the lack of outrage and horror, particularly given the disproportionate impact the conflict is having on women and children. As I asked the UN security council last month, how can we accept a situation where rape and sexual violence – which, let us be clear, are war crimes – have become the norm?
When Ban Ki-moon asked me to become his special envoy for the Great Lakes in March, I felt a particular responsibility to the mothers, daughters and grandmothers who – since my first visit to the region, as president of Ireland in 1994 – have shared with me what they have suffered in Bujumbura, Bukavu, Goma, Kigali or Kinshasa.
In 20 years of killings, rape, destruction and displacement, these women have suffered most. Yet I believe they are the region’s best hope for building lasting peace. My job now, and the job of the international community, is to support them in every way we can.
Women’s voices should not only be heard because they are the victims of the war. Their active participation in peace efforts is essential, because they are the most effective peace builders. As men take up arms, women hold communities together in times of war. This makes them stronger and better equipped to play a key role in securing real peace, as we have seen in Northern Ireland, Liberia and elsewhere.
My approach to peace-building involves not just political leaders, but all of civil society, including women. Without their full support and participation, no peace agreement can succeed. How many secret deals have been negotiated in the Great Lakes region, only to be ignored or forgotten by the signatories for lack of transparency and accountability?
I believe the peace, security and co-operation framework for the DRC and the region, signed in Addis Ababa in February 2013 by 11 African countries, provides an opportunity to do things differently. That is why I have called it a framework of hope. I have started to work on its implementation top-down, with the 11 heads of state who signed the agreement, and bottom-up, with the people of the region who will be its real beneficiaries.
As the first woman to be appointed UN special envoy, I have promised to ensure that women’s voices are heard at the negotiating table. Last month, with Femmes Africa Solidarité and the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region, we brought together more than 100 women from across the region – including the gender ministers of the DRC, Rwanda, Uganda and Burundi – in Bujumbura. One upshot of the meeting has been to ensure the consequences of sexual violence are included in the benchmarks we are developing to measure progress in the implementation of the peace agreement.
I feel energised by the leadership shown by the women I met in Bujumbura.
They are taking full responsibility for peace, security and development in the region. Reaching across national borders, they are innovative, collegial and practical. I rely on them to hold their leaders to account for the full implementation of the framework of hope.
As special envoy, I will continue to support female-led initiatives. I am pleased the World Bank has allocated $150m (£98m) to finance gender-based projects, in addition to the $1bn already pledged for the region. I encourage the donor community to be even more strategic in its support of the framework of hope. It is crucial to demonstrate the economic benefits of a lasting peace based on development – what I call the peace dividend.
Almost six months after the signing of the peace agreement, armed groups are still roaming in eastern Congo, sowing terror and destruction. This is not acceptable. I have heard the region’s people voice their frustration and anger at the slow pace of change. However, I am confident that, with the support of civil society – including women – we can succeed in bringing peace to the region.
I have often heard my friend Desmond Tutu, a fellow member of the Elders, say: “I am not an optimist, I am a prisoner of hope.” The women of the Great Lakes are keeping my hope alive.
on the 12. of August
Rwanda Focus (Kigali)
Why Did U.S. Embassy in Rwanda Close?
O. A. GASHUGI
Photo: by yellaprakash
The recent closure of the American embassy in Rwanda and Burundi – among others in the Middle East and Africa – allegedly as a precautionary measure against possible terror attacks has raised a lot of eyebrows, considering that neither of the two countries has any experience with extremist Muslims, nor has there ever been an attack against American interests (or those of other Western countries).
The US state department, in a communiqué announcing the closure of 19 of its embassies and consulates including the one in Kigali, simply called it a ‘precautionary step’ following a worldwide terror alert. The embassy itself said on its website that it would be closed from August 5 to August 9 and announced the cancellation of all US citizen and visa appointments.
The measure also came as a shock to most Americans living in Rwanda. One of them, who did not want to give his name, said he has always felt very secure in Rwanda and was surprised that the embassies in Rwanda and Burundi would be closed and while the ones in Tanzania, Kenya and Uganda remained open.VIEW ALL
Rwanda Focus (Kigali)
Will Rwanda Extradite M23 Officials?
O. A. GASHUGI
The Minister of Justice and Attorney General Johnston Busingye says that the extradition of four M23 officials to Congo will be done legally and not politically after confirming that Rwanda had responded to the DRC government’s request for extradition of the four officials.
The four wanted officials are former M23 chairman M23 Jean-Marie Runiga and military commanders Baudouin Ngaruye, Eric Badege and Innocent Zimurinda.
Busingye told The Rwanda Focus that the Rwandan embassy in the DRC received the papers towards the end of July and immediately sent them to Kigali, where they were studied and a response was sent last week.
“Extradition is a legal issue and this matter will be handled in a legal process. We have responded to the DRC government asking them to furnish us with more details,” Busingye said.
The details that Rwanda is seeking from DRC are the nature of the charges against the four officials and evidence against them. DRC’s Information minister Lambert Mende told media recently that his government enjoys good relations with Rwanda in spite of the recent diplomatic challenges between the two neighboring countries. VIEW ALL
HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH
Nairobi — The leadership of the Rwandan League for the Promotion and Defense of Human Rights has been ousted because of its independent stance.
People believed to be favorable to the government have taken over the organization in what has become a typical state tactic to silence human rights defenders.
The organization, known as LIPRODHOR, is the country’s last effective human rights group. On July 21, 2013, a small number of members organized a meeting which voted in a new board. The action violated the organization’s rules and the national law on nongovernmental organizations. Several members of the ousted board are known for their independence and courage in denouncing state abuses. On July 24, the Rwanda Governance Board – the state body with oversight of national nongovernmental groups – wrote a letter to the organization taking note of the decision and recognizing the new board.
“International actors should condemn this blatant hijacking of Rwanda’s last independent group that exposes human rights abuses,” said Daniel Bekele, Africa director at Human Rights Watch. “If LIPRODHOR is silenced, it will be a big loss for all Rwandans.”
Under Articles 3(7) and 12(3) of the African Charter on Democracy, Elections, and Governance, which Rwanda has signed and ratified, citizens have a right to effective participation in the affairs of their country, and the state has a duty to “create conducive conditions for civil society organizations to exist and operate within the law.”
According to LIPRODHOR’s regulations and article 27 of the law on national nongovernmental organizations, any conflict that arises in the organization must first be referred to that organization’s internal conflict resolution organ. The organizers of the July 21 meeting bypassed this step. The newly elected president told Human Rights Watch that he had advised people at the meeting that they should go through the conflict resolution committee, but claimed that members at the meeting “did not think it would work.”
Several of the group’s members told Human Rights Watch that the July 21 meeting did not follow the usual procedures. They said that the organizers had called selected members but had not sent out a written notice. Key leaders of the organization, including the president, the vice-president, and the executive secretary, were not notified about the meeting.
The organization’s regulations specify that members should be notified in writing at least eight days before such a meeting. The ousted president told Human Rights Watch that neither he, nor his vice-president, nor the staff had seen any such letter, and that when they asked the meeting’s organizers for a copy, they failed to produce it. Human Rights Watch also asked one of the organizers for a copy, but he was unable to provide one.
Participants said the organizers presented the meeting as a “consultation” to review a July 3 decision by the board to withdraw from the Collective of Leagues and Organizations for the Defense of Human Rights in Rwanda (CLADHO), an umbrella body for human rights organizations. LIPRODHOR and two other member organizations of the umbrella group had withdrawn because of internal divisions, lack of support for member organizations, and disagreements over alleged irregularities in CLADHO’s board election.
However, the July 21 meeting went beyond reviewing this decision and called a vote for a new LIPRODHOR board. One of the meeting’s organizers was elected the new president. After the fact, the meeting was described as an extraordinary general assembly to the Rwanda Governance Board. The media had been informed about the meeting beforehand and covered its outcome.
The election of the new board violated LIPRODHOR’s statutes, which specify that elections may take place only during a general assembly. In addition, it is unclear whether the July 21 meeting had a quorum. The group’s constitution states that a general assembly “shall validly meet by the absolute majority of full members.” The December 2012 membership list has 115 names, but the newly elected president told Human Rights Watch that only 47 people attended the meeting.
The Rwanda Governance Board’s swift recognition of the outcome of the meeting, without investigating the concerns of the group’s ousted leadership, raises legitimate questions about the government body’s motivation. The Rwanda Governance Board should set aside its decision, insist that Rwandan law and LIPRODHOR’s statutes are observed, and allow human rights organizations to work freely, Human Rights Watch said.
Sheikh Saleh Habimana, head of political parties, nongovernmental organizations, and faith-based organizations for the Rwanda Governance Board, denied that the body has a responsibility to ensure that organizations follow the law. He told Human Rights Watch that the Rwanda Governance Board could not question the decision of a general assembly and could only be notified of the outcome. “The former LIPRODHOR board can go to court,” he said. “If the courts decide this was a bad decision, then we will remove our approval.”
On July 24, LIPRODHOR, through its ousted president, filed a legal challenge against the July 21 decision and sought a temporary injunction. The court case is pending.
“The Rwanda Governance Board and the new LIPRODHOR board are passing the ball back and forth,” Bekele said. “A group of people take over an organization illegally and say, ‘The decision is now legal.’ The government body charged with oversight says, ‘It is not our responsibility to ensure compliance with the law, we just note the outcome.’ These administrative tricks have been used before to silence dissent in Rwanda.”
On July 24 the police canceled a training workshop organized by LIPRODHOR on submitting evidence to the Universal Periodic Review – a United Nations Human Rights Council procedure to review the human rights situation in each country. The police spokesman, Theos Badege, told Human Rights Watch that the police had acted on the instructions of the Rwanda Governance Board.
During the forced handover between the old and new boards, police threatened LIPRODHOR staff with imprisonment if they did not cooperate with the new board. Several members told Human Rights Watch that they felt their security was at risk.
“Partners of Rwanda who pay lip service to supporting civil society should step up to defend LIPRODHOR,” Bekele said. “Otherwise, there will soon be no organizations left in the country to provide independent information.”
Rwanda’s domestic human rights movement has been almost destroyed by a combination of state intimidation, threats, manipulation, infiltration, and administrative obstacles. Most leading human rights activists have fled the country. The government’s actions to silence human rights groups are part of a broader pattern of intolerance of criticism, which extends to independent journalists and opposition parties.
LIPRODHOR is the last effective national independent human rights organization in Rwanda. Once one of the most dynamic groups, which regularly published reports and set up pioneering projects after the 1994 genocide to monitor trials and prison conditions, it has been plagued with problems for more than a decade. By 2013, despite limited resources and financial difficulties, it had continued monitoring human rights abuses and organizing training and advocacy activities, but rarely published reports.
LIPRODHOR has been singled out by the government in its crackdown on human rights groups. In 2004 the parliament requested the dissolution of the group and several others on the recommendation of a parliamentary commission on genocide ideology, which alleged that these organizations supported genocidal ideas. After receiving personal threats, about a dozen leading members of the group fled the country. Several others left in the ensuing years.
In 2008 the National Electoral Commission prevented the group, at the last minute, from monitoring the 2008 parliamentary elections.
One of the most divisive government tactics used against civil society organizations has been infiltration. LIPRODHOR is just the latest in a string of human rights organizations taken over by people who are close to the Rwandan government or who are unwilling to denounce human rights abuses. Once in leadership posts, these people have blocked investigations on sensitive issues as well as publications that could be deemed critical of the government, and have frozen out independently minded members. Several leading human rights organizations have been paralyzed in this way.
Human Rights Watch has documented a similar pattern of government tactics against opposition parties. In March 2010 the opposition PS-Imberakuri was taken over by a dissident faction favorable to the ruling Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF). This faction ousted the party’s president, Bernard Ntaganda, and replaced him with a more compliant leader, Christine Mukabunani.
Ntaganda was arrested three months later, just weeks before the 2010 presidential elections. He was tried in 2011 and sentenced to four years in prison for “divisionism” and endangering national security. Party members loyal to him have also been arrested, harassed, and threatened, and have been unable to pursue their political activities. Meanwhile, the faction headed by Mukabunani has been allowed to operate and is recognized by the government.
In late 2009 Ntaganda was summoned by the senate and questioned on accusations of genocide ideology. The senate’s Political Affairs Commission found that accusations of genocide ideology and divisionism against him were well-founded.
Other groups have also been co-opted and forced into structures that the government can control. For example, the Civil Society Platform, a broad umbrella group which the government has strongly encouraged organizations to join, claims to be independent but regularly aligns itself with the government. At times, it has sought to defend the government against criticism and to downplay the scale of its abuses. The Civil Society Platform’s election observation mission produced an overwhelmingly positive report on the 2010 presidential elections, despite a brutal government crackdown on opposition parties, journalists, and critics in the pre-election period.
On occasion, the Civil Society Platform, as well as CLADHO, has publicly criticized independent organizations. In 2010 CLADHO publicly denounced a collective civil society report on the human rights situation in Rwanda submitted to the UN Human Rights Council in advance of Rwanda’s Universal Periodic Review in 2011.
The report was coordinated by the League for Human Rights in the Great Lakes Region, of which LIPRODHOR is a member. In a public statement on September 3, 2010, CLADHO disowned the report and called for the prosecution of those who had drafted and distributed it.
The League for Human Rights itself has been targeted by the government on several occasions. As a regional organization, it has a different status from LIPRODHOR but has maintained a strongly independent line on human rights in Rwanda, leading to threats against several of its leading members.
The recent decision by LIPRODHOR to withdraw from CLADHO takes place against a background of longstanding internal tensions within the umbrella group, between member organizations that have tried to maintain independence from the government and those that have refrained from criticizing the government. Since the late 1990s, people who are unwilling to criticize the government have dominated CLADHO.
THE NEW TIMES
06. August 2013
by Ivan R. MUGISHA
Tanzanite miner at the Mererani mine in northern Tanzania. The mineral audit agency said between 60 and 75 per cent of all tanzanite production is undocumented. Photo/FILE AFP
The government of Rwanda has contacted their counterparts in the Democratic Republic of Congo over the tonnes of smuggled minerals from the neighbouring country.
The minerals which, according to the State Minister in charge of Mining, Evode Imena, constituted 8.4 metric tonnes of wolfram, tin and coltan, were seized in June as they were being smuggled into the country from DRC.
“We have communicated to the government of DRC. Rwanda Revenue Authority delivered a letter to the customs of DRC and we are waiting for their response,” Imena, said in an interview last week, adding that the response will determine when the minerals will be handed back.
The interception of the minerals was first announced last month by Louise Mushikiwabo, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, during her address to the UN Security Council in a debate on the security situation in the Great Lakes Region. (Read article)
The value of the minerals is not known. “Once they (Congolese) are ready, we shall inform you of when we shall hand over the minerals,” Imena added. According to the state minister, the minerals constitute the three so-called “conflict minerals” of tin, wolfram and coltan and are currently stored at the Revenue Protection Department in Rusizi District.
The Deputy Commissioner General of RRA, Richard Tusabe, said that the smuggled minerals were seized by a Rwandan surveillance team along the DRC border, although the smugglers were not captured. “They abandoned the minerals and ran away. We do not have any details on who they are,” Tusabe said, adding that: “We will sustain surveillance to stop smugglers.”
In November 2011, Rwanda handed 82 tonnes of smuggled tin, coltan and wolfram back to DRC .
all this sounds so familiar…
Rwanda gives DRC back tonnes of smuggled minerals (Africa Review Nov. 2011)
About 82 tonnes of smuggled minerals seized by Rwandan police has been handed back to the Democratic Republic of Congo in a sign of improved relations between the two neighbours.
The minerals include cassiterite, or tin ore, as well as coltan, used in devices such as mobile phones.
DR Congo’s mineral wealth has been a major factor in years of conflict... .read more
A man accused by the Congolese Army of being a spy of M23 rebels is tied and taken away on July 16 in Munigi on the outskirts of Goma (photo AFP/Getty)
THE RWANDA FOCUS
22 July 2013
It was the strangest of sights: a group of 85 members of the Congolese Army (FARDC) crossing the Rubavu border into Rwanda. Yet instead of an attack, as one would expect considering the belligerent language coming from Kinshasa, the soldiers on Thursday came begging for refuge, after one and a half day of intensive fighting with the M23 rebels.
The men were received by their RDF colleagues, and handed over to UNHCR officials.
The event follows fresh fighting between FARDC and M23 rebels which started about a week ago in the areas of Mutaho and Kanyarucyinya villages, about 15 kilometers from Goma.
It wasn’t the only defection the FARDC suffered last week. Lieutenant colonel Rwabukamba Mugisha, one of its senior officers, likewise surrendered to the M23. The latter also managed to capture a Tanzanian called Christopher George, believed to be attached to the newly-formed UN intervention brigade, and who was found fighting alongside the genocidal Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) in the Rucuru.
The fighting also resulted in the U.N. issuing an official complaint on Friday against mistreatment and mutilation by the FARDC of dead bodies suspected of M23 fighters, as well as mistreatment of detainees. In addition, secretary general Ban Ki-moon last Wednesday said that the UN was revising its support to the Congolese army units.
“The Secretary-General is deeply concerned about reports of alleged mistreatment of M23 detainees and desecration of corpses of M23 combatants by the Congolese armed forces,” Ban’s press office said.
“Monusco has launched the process of reviewing its support to FARDC units suspected of being involved in these incidents,” Said Ban statement adding that the Secretary-General calls on the DRC to bring the perpetrators of these reported acts to justice.”
The UN reaction follows an incident in which FARDC showed images of the corpses being pulled on their army pickups on the roads whereas detainees suspected to be members of the M23 rebels were also shown on DRC Television while being mistreated by FARDC. U.N. peacekeepers had reported the abuse of M23 rebels by the Congolese army and requested the Kinshasa government to investigate these claims and to hold the perpetrators of these acts accountable.
‘Not the first time’
Speaking to The Rwanda Focus on Friday, Rene Abandi, the M23 spokesman in charge of foreign affairs, welcomed the U.N. reactions to the FARDC behavior. “It is not the first time FARDC has behaved in such an inhuman way and we are happy that the U.N. has now shown concern about this serious matter,” he said.
Abandi also accused the Kinshasa government of not being responsible regarding the indiscipline and cruelty among the FARDC in the east of the country, saying that whenever they commit crimes, the central government says that it’s FARDC members who have to be held accountable even though they get their commands from Kinshasa.
“It is not the first time FARDC has behaved in such an inhuman way and we are happy that the U.N. has now shown concern about this serious matter.”
Rene Abandi, M23 spokesman in charge of foreign affairs
He called upon the international community and the Congolese people to speak the truth about the reasons behind the conflict in the eastern part of the country instead of telling lies. M23 began taking parts of eastern Congo early last year, accusing the DRC government of failing to honor a 2009 peace deal. That deal ended a previous rebellion and led to the rebels’ integration into the army, but they have since deserted again.
Abandi said that there is a need for the international community to always ensure that the DRC leadership is held accountable for the crimes committed by its army and that the culture of impunity prevailing among the FARDC is brought to a halt.
“The M23 will never agree to work with the Kinshasa leadership which is based on ethnic divisionism, unless they change their political agenda and respect all Congolese nationals irrespective of which region or tribe they come from,” Abandi said, adding that nevertheless they are still willing to have a dialogue with the government since it is the only way to bring peace and stability in the eastern Congo.
To complicate matters further, the M23 spokesman accused the FARDC of working with the FDLR, many of whose members have participated in the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsis. “The issue of the Genocide is an international challenge which requires to be addressed by all nations around the world and it’s in this regard that I encourage the international community to be concerned as to why DRC government is still providing a safe haven to the FDLR rebels who are genocidaires,” Abandi said.
The list of crimes by the FARDC doesn’t end there. In February, the United Nations also threatened to withdraw support for two Congolese battalions after soldiers raped at least 97 women and 33 girls, some as young as 6. According to a U.N. human rights report, the peacekeeping mission decided to keep working with the battalions after 12 senior officers, including the commanders and deputy commanders, were suspended and about a dozen soldiers charged over the rapes in Minova.
Provocative and deliberate
The arrival of the 85 FARDC soldiers in Rwanda is all the more surprising considering that on Monday, two bombs were fired from an area controlled by the Congolese army and Monusco into Gasiza and Kageshi cells, Busasamana sector in Rubavu.
“Two bombs landed at Kageshi and Gasiza Cells, Busasamana Sector, Rubavu District, Western Rwanda at 3.05pm,” RDF spokesman Brig. Gen. Joseph Nzabamwita was quoted as saying in a statement released by the government.
“This was a provocative and deliberate act by FARDC and Monusco since there was no fighting nearby between the warring factions,” Nzabamwita said, adding that there were no casualties.
However, in a press conference held last Wednesday in Kinshasa, Monusco flatly denied the allegations of “deliberate bombings” of Rwanda territory.
That drew an angry reaction from the Rwandan government, which said that the gratuitous denial by Monusco without prior investigations constitutes a dangerous pattern since it’s not the first time the UN force has denied verifiable attacks on Rwanda territory. The ministry of defense issued a statement indicating that proof of the attack had been verified by the Expanded Joint Verification Mechanism (EJVM).
In addition, defense and military attachés from mainly Western countries on Thursday visited the two Rubavu villages which were hit by the mortar bombs. The attachés included those from the US, Belgium, France, Germany and Tanzania. The envoys were also briefed by Joseph Nzabamwita.
In November last year, during the battle for Goma, FARDC fired 15 bombs into Rwanda territory, killing several civilians. At that time, too, Monusco kept silent and defended itself even when Kinshasa apologized for the bombing, which it said was done by undisciplined officers who fired without orders.
M23 fighters have previously also accused Monusco of lending a hand in attacking their group, but the force denied the accusations, saying the mission has only tried to intervene in the conflict for the purpose of protecting civilians.
“Monusco supports us in logistics. It assists us with combat rations, fuel … It supports us with its aviation when we need to fight the enemy. It also acts to evacuate our wounded at the front, even for moving the military,” said FARDC spokesman Col Olivier Hamuri in a recent statement.
MONUSCO Mortar Rebut Dangerous (The New Times, 18 July 2013)
The ministry of defence has denounced denial by the UN Mission in the Congo (Monusco) that mortar bombs landed on Rwandan territory from the Congolese side of the border this week, saying the rebuff poses a danger to civilians.
On Monday, the Rwanda Defence Forces protested what it described as “a provocative and deliberate act by FARDC (the Congolese army) and Monusco”, saying the two bombs that landed in Kageshi and Gasiza cells, Busasamana Sector in Rubavu District, originated from the area under Congolese army and the UN peacekeepers control.
Monusco yesterday denied mortars were fired on the Rwandan territory. [read all…]
Provocative Cross-Border Bombing From DRC ( Rwanda Focus, 15 July 2013)
Rwanda’s ministry of defense has confirmed the deliberate bombing today on Rwandan territory from a DRC area controlled by FARDC and Monusco.
“Two bombs landed at Kageshi and Gasiza cells, Busasamana sector, Rubavu District, Western Rwanda at 15h05,” said military spokesman brig-gen Joseph Nzabamwita. “This was a provocative and deliberate act by FARDC and Monusco since there was no fighting nearby between the warring factions. Fighting between FARDC and M23 started on Sunday, and we have credible information that FDLR is currently embedded in FARDC.”[read all…]
Statement by H.E. Louise Mushikiwabo, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation at the Security Council Debate on the Situation in the Great Lakes Region
New York, 25 July 2013 — Secretary Kerry, Honourable Ministers, Excellencies and Distinguished Delegates, Let me begin by thanking the US and Secretary Kerry for convening this most important debate in support of the Peace, Security and Cooperation (PSC) Framework and for the Presidential Statement just adopted. Allow me also to thank the Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon for his statement as well as the World Bank President, Dr. Jim Yong Kim, and Special Envoy for the Great Lakes Region of Africa, Mary Robinson for their valued contributions and briefings. Taken together, their extraordinary efforts, exhausting travel schedules and financial commitments to regional development priorities amply demonstrate their sincere commitment to the Peace, Security, and Cooperation Framework- a visionary, comprehensive and inclusive strategy to end decades of conflict and instability in the Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. I also thank AU Commissioner Ramtane Lamamra for his revealing briefing on regional efforts undertaken towards finding peace in the Great Lakes Region.
Let me also acknowledge the presence of Honourable Ministers from countries of the region and from fellow Council members.
Rwanda warmly welcomes the new Special Envoy of the US to the Great Lakes Region and the new SRSG and Force Commander of MONUSCO. Together, with Special Envoy, Mary Robison, I wish to assure you of Rwanda’s total collaboration.
Rwanda is very pleased and supports the Presidential Statement; we nonetheless believe it could have been strengthened by including ongoing regional efforts, particularly in support of the Kampala peace talks established under the auspices of the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region. Indeed, we urge the UN’s Special Envoy, Mary Robinson, to play an active part in seeing through the Kampala talks without much further delay. Her engagement would be a welcome and helpful contribution.
We have gathered today out of a shared determination to make peace in the Great Lakes Region a lasting reality. Having endured devastating conflict within our own borders nearly two decades ago, the people of Rwanda have worked tirelessly to rebuild a peaceful and thriving nation but we are also very aware that our destiny is inextricably tied to that of our neighbors.
Let me put it in the clearest possible terms: in order to secure long-term peace and prosperity for Rwanda into the future, we need a peaceful and prosperous DRC. As long as conditions persist that allow more than thirty rebel groups to roam in Eastern DRC with impunity — or as long as men and boys see nothing in their futures beyond crime, violence and conflict — such a transformation will remain beyond reach. The Framework of Hope, along with regional peace efforts, opens the door to that kind of profound and necessary change. Rwanda is eager to do its part and live up to its commitments – as a neighbor and a regional partner, as well as through the Framework agreement.
Allow me to lay out some concrete actions of my government has taken so far:
We have disarmed, interned and relocated away from the DRC border more than 600 M23 combatants who crossed into Rwanda as a result of infighting in March 2013. In his report dated June 28th, the Secretary-General commended Rwanda for the positive role it played in disarming Bosco Ntaganda’s troops. We have asked the United Nations to take responsibility for these combatants. It is important to note that Rwanda cannot bear this burden alone. We invite the international community to devise and implement a long-term solution for this group of former combatants. Rwanda has also worked with the UN to accommodate roughly 70,000 Congolese nationals who have sought refuge in Rwanda, and to take the necessary steps to ensure their safe return home as soon as possible.
In addition, as the Secretary General mentioned in his report on the implementation of the PSC Framework, the Government of Rwanda reported the presence of several high-ranking M23 members who crossed the border from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) to seek refuge in Rwanda, including UN Sanctioned individuals.
When M23 leader General Bosco Ntaganda surrendered to the U.S. Embassy in Kigali on March 18th, Rwandan authorities offered facilitation for his transfer to The Hague.
We can all agree that the economic components of the Framework must be implemented alongside its political and security aspects. To that end, Rwanda is working to boost regional cooperation through enhanced economic integration and close collaboration in cross-border trade.
Just last month, Rwanda mining authorities seized 8.4 metric tons of smuggled minerals and are in the process of returning them to DRC authorities, as has been our practice in the past.
We are also exploring several other opportunities for economic cooperation including a strategic bilateral project with the DRC on Lake Kivu.
Finally, Rwanda supported and has been facilitating the deployment of the Intervention Brigade. We did so because we believe that it could help pacify the region, and serve as a deterrent thereby allow MONUSCO to carry out its Protection of Civilians responsibility and, critically, create the space necessary to implement the Peace and Security Framework as well as for regional peace efforts.
But as Special Envoy Mary Robinson has stressed in the past, the Framework is a shared endeavour and its success depends on each party living up to their respective commitments.
Rwanda is one of the eleven countries who make up the Expanded Joint Verification Mechanism (EJVM), by which developments in conflict-affected areas are examined thoroughly and with transparency and accountability. We therefore urge the Security Council to attach value to the work of the EJVM, and for their findings to inform the decisions we reach and resolutions we agree to.
On the recent FDLR-FARDC collusion, Rwanda remains seriously concerned. The Security Council received a letter (document S/2013/402) from my Government with details, so I will not repeat the specifics today. Nevertheless, Rwanda requests concerned parties to halt any further threats to its territory and its population such as the recent bombing into Rubavu district from the DRC territory. Nor can the peace process withstand destructive military alliances.
While Rwanda views any alliance between the FDLR and FARDC as a threat to regional security, we will not allow these disturbing developments to derail our commitment to peace.
I cannot stress enough Rwanda’s goodwill and ongoing support for the Peace, Security, and Cooperation Framework. We believe it offers a realistic path to lasting peace and security for the people of the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Great Lakes region at large. But we must not veer off course, and we must understand that this vision is only achievable alongside regional peace initiatives, as well as genuine political will on the part of all affected states.
Further, the international peacekeeping force in the DRC is forging unchartered territory with the deployment of an Intervention Brigade as well as Unmanned Aerial Vehicles. UN peacekeepers must take great care to respect all relevant international laws, and adhere strictly to their mandate.
Since the consequences of instability in the Eastern DRC fall so heavily on Rwanda, we are eager to take full advantage of this historic opportunity for peace and security and, despite the serious risks I have outlined, we can see early signs of progress.
A plan without action is just words, and, when it comes to the eastern DRC, there have been enough words. There has been enough speechifying and report writing. And there has been more than enough grandstanding, especially by unaccountable actors who seek profit and publicity from the region’s misery. It is time for such forces to move aside. This is the time for accountable parties to stand up and step forward. Now is the time for action.
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This statement was an answer to State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki announcement two days before Secretary of State John Kerry was scheduled to chair a special session of the U.N. Security Council on the Great Lakes regional conflict. She said:
“We call upon Rwanda to immediately end any support to the M23, withdraw military personnel from eastern DRC, and follow through on its commitments under the framework,”