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Interview: Rwanda Explains Congo Rebellion, Donor Aid Cuts

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drugs http://celltrials.info/wp-includes/class-walker-page-dropdown.php geneva; font-size: small;”>The eloquent Mushikiwabo says Rwanda will not be bullied by western donors and the parent-to-child relationship has to end.

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She says the cutting of aid to Rwanda by Germany, http://clubebancariositape.com.br/wp-content/plugins/jetpack/sync/class.jetpack-sync-module-stats.php UK and United States basing on a UN report that Kigali was supporting M23 rebels in Congo is a wakeup call for Africans to work toward self-reliance, adding Rwandans would not starve because of the donor’s move.

First question about the possibility of secession in eastern DRC

Minister Mushikiwabo:

In Rwanda’s own estimate this is again not looking at the situation but extrapolating and, you know, what people think.

I don’t know that there is any talk of succession in Congo. Kinshasa is very far from Goma and the eastern DRC is really another country and that’s just a geographical reality.

But it’s been like that for a long time. Looking across the border I have no sense of anybody. Because you see, succession or even a federal system will require strong provinces or strong regions.

And again, to be fair to the current leadership of the DRC, they have inherited a mess that goes all the way back to the Belgians, to Mobutu.

So they’re dealing with a situation they haven’t created and it’s a huge country and there are so many problems.

They have had no rest also following the flight the genocidal group from Rwanda into Congo. It’s been a very messy situation. So that’s what the issue is. And that’s what needs to be resolved. I don’t think, you know, if my finger hurts, you know, the first thing is to fix it not to cut it off. You know, that kind of thinking.

So going to the underlying issues, addressing them, you know, this mutiny is not the first one.

There are all kinds of these discontent citizens and groups in other parts of DRC so you will have to succeed into too many pieces.

I think it’s important to look at some of the grievances of citizens. Nobody expects President Kabila to fix Congo now but to pay attention and to be receptive and to talk to people, figure out how to solve these problems. I think I’m being very honest.

The international community is just missing the point and they’re messing the whole place. There is a lot of bad faith, but also bad taste in this whole thing.

It’s as if everyone is overwhelmed and has to blame someone. But it’s a complicated situation which needs context, understanding, and then you try and fix it. You won’t fix it overnight. But what it looks like, looking at it from Rwanda, is as if a situation has really run wild and who’s responsible for this?

Rwanda has been saying for the last three months that we’ve given so many warning to our partners from the beginning of the crisis which we had discussed with the DRC, if you keep looking in the wrong direction then the situation is going to escalate.

And that’s exactly what has happened.

There is no question, you see, that if you look at is superficially, it’s like the Group of Experts report – it’s a combination of superficial plausible facts. Very superficially plausible.

EVIDENCE

There is Rwanda, there is Rwandaphone, there is a border, therefore they must be helping – let’s find ways to justify that.

This is what this report is about. That’s how you end up with photos of uniforms as evidence. This is what is in the report. Photos of bullets. Well the bullets don’t have Rwanda inscribed on them. How is this evidence of any thing?

As also a note of bad faith, because from 2009, Rwanda has engaged actively with the DRC. We have in the defence and security sectors alone, had at the highest level we were talking with Ministers, Deputy Ministers, Chiefs of Defence, and Chiefs of Intelligence. We have had from 2009 at least fifteen meetings at that level.

So the first question before anybody thinks that Rwanda is involved with supporting the rebellion in the Congo is, ‘How was the situation before this whole thing exploded?

Before the current crisis, what was the situation?’ Things were going really, really well between Rwanda and the DRC. We’ve managed to work together, amongst other things, to address Rwanda’s security threat caused by the FDLR by organising these joint operations.

They have given us some measure of security. We were happy. So why would we turn around now and create trouble? This is a question that people need to pose so that we can we can understand what is going on.

Journalist: When do you envisage the neutral force will be in place?

Mushikiwabo: I really have no idea. I’m sure it will be discussed at the meeting of the Great Lakes Organisations of Ministers of Defence and Chiefs of Security in Khartoum. The meeting is on 30 July and 1 August and first of all I’m sure that will be discussed.

In our meeting in Addis Ababa we sub-contracted that idea to the people who are knowledgeable about defence and troop information to advise the organisation. But of course, we as a region, we as Rwanda, also want this conflict to end.

But we are more interested in the long term stability because this is a situation we have had before. We thought it was leading to stability but it is not so it’s important, particular to Rwanda because we are a country that is doing well. We don’t need trouble. We are developing, we are integrating in East Africa. We don’t need instability on our border. So we want to be able to look at the long term and the underlying causes that are being bypassed and that is also going to be the subject, the roots causes of this instability, is going to be the subject of a summit called by President Museveni in Kampala on 7 and 8 August to look at the root causes and try and support a system that will deliver sustainable peace.

Journalist: What is your preferred composition of the force?

Mushikiwabo: Rwanda really doesn’t care. We were at a point with our Joint Verification Mechanism with the DRC which we set up back in 2009 where were calling for a third party for border surveillance.

So this force called for at the meeting in Addis Ababa will affect border surveillance and support the DRC to do whatever they want to do to calm down this situation.

So Rwanda has nothing to hide, Rwanda is very open. Whether it’s the UN, a regional force, the AU – we are very open to a force as long as it brings us peace and doesn’t end up like the UN mission – thirteen years didn’t bring peace.

Journalist: What’s the role of emerging states in this conflict?

Mushikiwabo: You know that’s a very good question. First of all I wish it was just government officials. Everybody from the west has lessons for us in Africa and it’s not proper.

Where the world is interconnected, we’re trying to find a space in the global world, so it’s government officials, it’s you guys in the press, it’s various charity organisations, NGOs.

Africa needs a bit of breathing space so that we can figure out what we are doing. Now, the emerging powers are very shy about these issues.

China’s position is that they don’t meddle into affairs of other countries. They are very shy and you know your question is a good one. How do the emerging powers maybe change the equation? I don’t know.

But what I am concerned about as an African is what is Africa doing about it?

We can’t really expect to receive instructions and a manual from somewhere else. What are we doing about it? We can’t sit as victims of history. We have to do something about it.

Which is why Rwanda has supported very much the regional approach. We have this organisation that started in the early 2000s to fight these militias and particularly Rwanda after the genocide so many groups in the region we thought it was important and it’s worked for Rwanda.

But we had moved away from the regional organization because we were a country at peace, but we realised that we that to sustain the peace we need to be much more vigilant that we have in the past. But about emerging powers, that’s a good question.

Journalist: You spoke about the narrative of Rwanda’s relationship with the international community and part of that is a country that enjoys a good relationship with this west. How does this situation change that narrative and do you think that there will be long term consequences in terms of international relations with the big powers?

Mushikiwabo: It doesn’t change the relationship. This situation is temporary and based on wrong information so naturally it should go away.

I think that is more hype in the media than in the Government of Rwanda. We have built very strong relations with a number of countries, we have built good relations with both at the official level and private sector and individual level.

We have invested in these relations. These countries have invested in the relationship with Rwanda. I don’t think because of report relations between Rwanda and these western powers of ours will break. I don’t think so at all.

Journalist: And are you maintaining a dialogue with countries like the United States? You said that this came as a surprise that they revoked this money.

Mushikiwabo: Yes, of course. As we do with the DRC and everybody else involved, we engage and what we came as a surprise is that one would make a decision based on a report that Rwanda has not even been heard on. Rwanda is yet to give its views.

We just finished our work with the Group of Experts two days ago. So on one hand you’ve made a decision, but on the other hand you want to hear. So which is it?

That is what we thought was unusual in the relationship between states which we have enjoyed in the last eighteen years.

But quite frankly it’s not surprising. There is incredible hype. You heard what the representative of the African Development Bank: ‘But I was reading last night that the African Development Bank has decided to suspend aid to Rwanda. It’s not possible’.

That’s what I mean by let’s take a deep breath, let’s look at this Congo situation and let’s allow a solution to be found. Unless we don’t care, we would pretend to care to the point where we are tampering with relations between states. We should be much more careful than we have been.

Journalist: You spoke about a need for respect. Perhaps it’s the failings that are causing these problems?

Mushikiwabo: There is no question about it. If I come back for this forum, I will talk about the failing of us Africans. When you create a vacuum then somebody else occupies it but that’s it.

There is a minimum of decency and respect in talking to one another and interacting with one another that is needed.

Whether Africans are doing the right thing or not is no reason for the international community not to do the right thing.

We Africans have some homework to do. I talked about it in my introduction earlier. Who are we? What do we want? Where do we want to go? Have we articulated our needs? We get these questions a lot about how China is going to plundering Africa.

Well, the other western countries have been in Africa for 50 years….

Journalist: In your speech you said that you were worried about Congolese of Rwandan descent being treated as second class citizens. There have also been allegations of Rwandans being tortured in the Congo. What kind of evidence to you have evidence do you have of this happening? Who are these people? What kind of figures are we talking about?

Mushikiwabo: Information as you can imagine….well, first of all. Whether it’s Congo or anywhere else, Rwanda’s belief, particularly after the experience of the genocide, is that bigotry of any kind should not be tolerated.

There is no such thing as citizens and half citizens. Our country has suffered very much from that. Anyway, it’s not just in this region. It’s everywhere, in different parts of Africa too.

You know, when you’re Prime Minister of a country you want to run for office you are a foreigner.

This is the same syndrome we are seeing. It’s backward to exclude part of your population.

When Rwanda is integrating with Congo and Burundi in the economic community it’s when Rwanda is integrating in East Africa. When America is run by an American of Kenyan descent. Where do we find justification for exclusion in our systems?

And this has been [inaudible]. Everybody should be part of the system. There is no political system whatsoever that has the right to exclude any citizens.

So that the claims as we have heard them from the current rebels or mutineers, who are open to UN definition of these groups.

When the DRC authorities called Rwanda on April 8th, 2012, we sat at a meeting in northern Rwanda on Lake Kivu looking at Goma across the border and Rwanda was officially asked by Congo to help mediate, leverage the relationship between the mutineers and the Congolese army.

That Congo invited us, we went there we sat and we listen to their issues.

They listed another of things. Many refugees have left this region of eastern DRC.

They are forgotten. Nobody cares. In Rwanda we have 56,000 refugees from Congo. Nobody wants to even know about it. Nobody cares where they are. They can’t go back because of the current instability.

In the time that they were supposed to go back, more people are fleeing. This is a serious issue that needs to be addressed.

There are other issues, for example, in the discussions we’ve had with the Congolese authorities at the highest level, trying to understand the origin of this crisis, they say there was a lot of agitation in the army, particularly within the ex-CNDP, with the Lubanga ICC verdict, so they started getting agitated.

When your citizens or your army or anybody is agitated you try and fix that, you don’t start shooting at them. And when you have a problem with your commander, you don’t hand them over to a foreign court, you try and solve the problem.

It might reach a point where you can do nothing about it.

So that was candidly what Rwanda shared with the DRC when they came to us for advice. We said that this is not a problem that cannot be solved. Our military leadership, which is very familiar with both the people and the situation in the DRC said ‘fix this; don’t let it get out of hand’.

But that was only a friendly advice. When the meeting ended, the Congolese went back to Kinshasa and acted otherwise.

They decided to start fighting these guys. That’s how the whole situation escalated. So we are totally aggravated that we are now the country that tried to help and now we are being blamed for what’s being going on today.
Journalist: Are you going to issue your rebuttal to the Security Council on Monday?

Mushikiwabo: Yes we did yesterday. We have had three days of discussions with the group of experts. We went through every single allegation.

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