ANALYSIS: Inside Kabila’s New Overtures to Museveni, Kagame

Kabila holding talks with Kagame in Rubavu on Friday

DRC President Joseph Kabila this Friday traveled to the Rwandan border town of Rubavu where he met with his Rwandan counterpart, buy more about Paul Kagame.

The meeting was largely a surprise to many considering that relations between DRC on one hand and Uganda and Rwanda on the other have been frail.

The M23 conflict in Eastern Congo that saw DRC mobilise military support from South Africa, doctor Tanzania and Malawi to fight instead of dialoguing with the rebel force unsettled Museveni and Kagame.

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The war affected regional tourism as Uganda and Rwanda have several tourist attraction sites at their borders with Congo.

The situation nearly went out hand with artillery shells of the anti-M23 force hitting Rubavu in Rwanda and Kisoro in Uganda.

Both Museveni and Kagame ordered deployments of artillery equipment in the affected areas, bringing the three countries to the edge of an all-out war.

The defeated M23 rebels fled to Uganda and Rwanda. While some of the former fugitives have returned home, many have refused to leave in fear of their lives.

Before meeting President Kagame, Kabila held talks with Museveni at Mweya Safari Lodge in Kasese. This was the first time since 2012 that Kabila was returning to Uganda. He was last in Uganda at the peak of the M23 conflict.

Kabila’s gesture has revived hopes that the three countries can do more together for the good of their people after years of animosity, hatred, suspicion and counter espionage missions.

Kabila’s father, Laurent Kabila was installed with the support of Museveni and Kagame following a disastrous war that left thousands dead.

Laurent would later fall out with Rwanda before the exit of then DRC Forces’ Chief of Staff, Gen James Kabarebe.

Despite conducting joint military missions to eradicate the genocidal FDLR group in Eastern Congo, Kigali still believed that Kinshasa was not doing enough.

UN investigations also showed collaboration between Congolese generals and FDLR elements in Kivu.

But the talks between Kabila and Kagame have breathed new life into both countries relations.

In Rwanda, Kagame and Kabila were accompanied by delegations that included Alexis Tambwe Mwamba, DRC Minister of Justice, Atama Tabe, DRC Minister of Defence and Martin Kabwelulu, DRC Minister of Mines and Louise Mushikiwabo, Rwandan Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, James Musoni, Rwandan Minister of Infrastructure and Germaine Kamayirese, Rwandan Minister of State in charge of Energy at the Ministry of Infrastructure.


“The two sides exchanged on several topics regarding mutual interest and agreed to strengthen bilateral cooperation, particularly in the areas of cross-border trade and energy, specifically in the extraction of methane gas in Lake Kivu,” reads the joint statement signed by DRC and Rwandan officials.

“It was agreed that the Joint Technical Team will begin its work before the end of August 2016.”

Dissolved within Kivu, which straddles the border of the two countries are about 60 billion cubic meters of methane and 300 billion cubic meters of carbon dioxide.

Warm ties between the two countries would see construction of bigger plants to exploit methane hence expanding household access to power and reduction of environmental hazards.

The first phase of this project in Rwanda is powering three gensets to produce 26 MW of electricity for the local grid. The next phase of this project will deploy nine additional gensets at 75 MW to create a total capacity of over 100 MW for Rwanda.

Uganda government spokesperson, Ofwono Opondo, said in an article this week that, “The DRC which enjoys an observer status seems to have realized that it is being left behind by the progress of the East African Community (EAC) and now wants to join some of the infrastructural investment projects.”

Indeed, at the recent Northern Corridor Ministers’ meeting, DRC representatives expressed their intention to join the infrastructural frameworks.

They further stated that Kabila was in touch with Museveni to ensure their inclusion into the arrangement aimed at resolving infrastructural bottlenecks hindering cross border trade, foreign direct investments, movement of goods and genera; economic growth.

Accordingly, DRC agreed to join the Uganda-Tanzanian oil pipeline, and Uganda to connect a 220kv electricity power line to its east.

Also, a joint technical team on petroleum exploration and production between Uganda and DRC is to be set up within this month.


Regarding cooperation in the area of security, both DRC and Uganda hailed the progress made in line with eradicating negative forces, and also stressed the importance of establishing a strong mechanism for the timely sharing of intelligence.

Officials told ChimpReports that this would help in swift neutralisation of common security threats along the border.

The two sides also committed to “mutual efforts for the revitalization of bilateral relations, including the enhancing of diplomatic relations between Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo.”

Opondo said the re-demarcation of the border where disputes have been from Arua in the north down to Kasese district was reported to be progressing well.

Nevertheless, it will be recalled that Kabila’s third term bid is facing stiff resistance in his country, with the opposition and Catholic Church calling for his exit.

Bloody riots have previously rocked Kinshasa and other cities with the youth protesting against plans to amend the Constitution to allow Kabila’s stay in power.

Only time will tell if Kabila is wooing Kagame and Museveni in his quest to retain his hold onto power in the politically fragile country recovering from decades of a destructive conflict.

Opondo argued that Africa’s socio-economic transformation demands that there must be stability, democracy and good governance, and “so it so refreshing that its leaders are somehow now beginning to listen to each other, compromising and finding common purpose as was seen in Rwanda during the just concluded AU Summit.”


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