Tanzania President Jakaya Kikwete has refuted reports of supporting FDLR, treat side effects http://cikza.com/wp-content/plugins/jetpack/_inc/header.php saying his country will back military efforts to defeat the Rwanda genocidal militia group operating from Eastern Congo.
Intelligence reports have since showed that FDLR commanders usually meet in Tanzania with the support of government officials.
“Let me use this opportunity to set records straight about Tanzania’s position and role in the evolving security situation in the Eastern DRC and the ongoing voluntary surrender and disarmament exercise by the FDLR rebels,” Kikwete told diplomats at State House, Dar Es Salaam on Friday.
“We have always been supportive and will continue to be supportive of these efforts to ensure the Eastern DRC is free of armed groups that threaten the security of the people of Congo and Congo’s neighbours,” he added.
Kikwete angered Rwanda in 2013 when he proposed at a meeting in Addis Ababa that Kigali should hold talks with FDLR.
Kagame later fired back at Kikwete, saying, “When people continue to uphold the genocide ideology, it is a reminder that the path ahead is still long.”
“We cannot take anything for granted. For Rwanda, this is not just about a discussion. The consequences are a death or life issue for Rwanda,” he Kagame told the Rwanda Patriotic Front (RPF) National Executive Committee meeting in Kigali in July 2013.
Tanzania is among the countries that contributed troops to fight M23 rebel group in DRC. While Rwanda denied backing the M23 Movement, the rebel group provided a buffer zone against the FDLR militia across the border.
FDLR’s Deputy Commander and head of military operations, Gen Stanislas Bigaruka, was arrested from Tanzania.
Sources say the seizure of Bigaruka, who is second-in-command to ICC-indicted Gen Sylvester Mudacumura, embarrassed Kikwete’s government which has been denying links with the militia.
The United Nations Intervention Brigade and DRC forces are reportedly stationing troops and artillery to enforce a disarmament exercise in North Kivu. The extremist group refused to surrender by January 2 as directed by UN.
Kikwete told diplomats this week that, “Any misrepresentation of Tanzania’s position is done by people who pretend to read Tanzania’s mind and make their thinking the truth,” adding, “This is preposterous and contemptible. It is done by people who have ill intensions against our country.”
Relations between Tanzania and Rwanda have for the last few years been frosty over FDLR.
Rwanda’s Foreign Affairs Minister Louise Mushikiwabo in 2013 described Kikwete’s calls for talks with FDLR as “aberrant” and “shocking.”
She said, “those who think that Rwanda today should sit down at the negotiating table with FDLR simply don’t know what they are talking about.”
Kagame said then that “speaking casually and calling on us to negotiate with the killers of our people is utter nonsense.”
Speaking at the graduation ceremony of 45 army officers at the Rwanda Defence Forces Staff and Command College, the President described Kikwete’s idea as dancing on the “mass graves of our people.”
Though he did not mention Kikwete, Kagame maintained proposals that Rwanda should hold talks with FDLR are premised on “ignorance” and “ideological problems.”
“I kept quiet for the contempt I have for it (FDLR talks) because I thought it was utter nonsense spoken out of ignorance. We must be left to live our lives the way Rwandans want to live them,” charged Kagame.
He further said “RPF did not seek revenge when it had every reason to be tempted…I don’t think anybody should be having issues with us.”
Kagame was referring to the post-genocide era after RPF had defeated and overthrown the regime of Juvenal Habyarimana.