mardi 23 juillet 2013

RWANDA/D. R. of Congo.: The truths of General James Kabarebe, Minister of Defence of Rwanda*.

 
On the eve of the elections in Congo last fall, you stated that if you could help the country become more stable, you would. Given the current situation, what went wrong?

         This is not just on the eve of elections that we have tried to help the Congo. Already in 2009, we tried to solve the problem of C.N.D.P. (National Council for the Defence of the People), which had led to the arrest of General Laurent Nkunda and the sidelining of many other groups, the Pareco, the Mai Mai Kifwawa, group Nakabaka, the F.R.C. ... All were eventually integrated into government troops. Since then, we have re-established diplomatic relations with the Congo, our presidents met several times. As a positive development surprised everyone, including ourselves.

What happened?

         This is a question we ask ourselves too, but nobody is there to meet us. But some people, especially in the West, have decided to interview only Rwanda on what is happening in D.R.C..

         After his election, President Kabila was put under pressure by the international community demanded the arrest of General Bosco Ntaganda, wanted by the International Criminal Court. There he had not at that time a sort of agreement between Kinshasa and Kigali to exclude general and to replace him?

         This is where the confusion began. To trace the genesis of the story, we must go back to the agreements signed in 2009 and that, until after the elections in Congo and until April 2012, there was no problem. In 2009, we helped to solve the problem of C.N.D.P. by supporting the integration of his soldiers in the government army, as well as military Pareco, Mai Mai Kifwawa, Nakabaka, a dozen groups. But then, the management of this situation would be the case of the Congolese themselves ...
         C.N.D.P. (National Council for the Defence of the People) had been built as a result of an agreement signed in Nairobi under the supervision of Presidents Obasanjo and Mkapa. Rwanda had contributed to an agreement for three years, had helped pacify the eastern Congo. But today the integration of these forces failed. This failure is not the fault of Rwanda, but it is due to the mismanagement of the military integration process.

What has happened this year?


         In December, the day after his election, President Kabila sent a special envoy to Kigali, accompanied by some soldiers. The adviser to the president, the late Katumba Mwanke, brought a message in four points: the first is that President Kabila was seeking the support of Rwanda to transfer to other provinces of Banyarwanda soldiers who were in the Eastern Congo. He also wanted our support for Westerners urged him to arrest General Bosco Ntaganda. After completing these two points, we would have conducted joint operations to neutralize the F.D.L.R.. And finally, strong to have worked well together on the previous points, we would have strengthened economic cooperation between our two countries revived several projects remained unresolved.
         The delegation explained that we Banyarwanda soldiers refused to be deployed outside of Kivu and hoped that we would be able to convince them, given our historical relationship not only with former C.N.D.P. soldiers but also with other Congolese officers.
According to them, these men refused to be transferred to other parts of the country because Bosco Ntaganda forbade them ... As usual we offered our help even if my feeling was that such problems should be solved on a national basis.
         Regarding Bosco Ntaganda, we recalled that the international community, which demanded the arrest of the latter, Congo had a U.N. .peacekeeping force of 20,000 with tanks, helicopters, special forces, a force located partly in Goma, across from Bosco. With him, the officers played tennis, they attended the same clubs, the same bars and restaurants. Why did they not responsible for the arrest, why they asked to do? We replied that the arrest was not our case, he was a Congolese officer very close to President Kabila, they had curious business together. You remember the story of a planeload of gold intercepted in Goma? Very high Congolese leaders were involved in this case. Ntaganda was no longer under our control ...
The members of the delegation were then told that they would arrest Bosco, but bring him before the International Criminal Court.
         We were on 5 February and the delegation returned to Kinshasa. Two days after this encounter, Mwanke Katumba was killed in a plane crash in Bukavu.
         In late March, President Kabila sent another delegation to Kigali, headed by the chief of the security services, Kalev, by Colonel Yav Jean-Claude and others. They always wanted our assistance, because they do not want to solve the problems of the East without our support. What support? They ensured that Bosco Ntaganda was blocking the transfer of Banyarwanda soldiers in the country.
We then proposed to hold a meeting, which Bosco Ntaganda participate and where we would try to convince him to convince him to let these officers be deployed outside of Kivu.
         The meeting was set for April 8, the day said, we expected these gentlemen, but they arrived without Ntaganda because the rumor had spread that the governments of Rwanda and Congo were preparing to arrest him. Frightened, he refused to come. Congolese arrived with three officers, Colonel Sultani Makenga, Colonel Faustin Muhindo and Colonel Innocent Zimurinda. The meeting was supposed to convince Ntaganda, but he was absent. "He disappeared last night with 200 of his men outside Goma ... Maybe he was in his farm in Masisi .. "
. I then pointed out that "if Bosco is gone, it can not prevent the deployment of its officers, the problem is solved ..."
         They explained to me that there was still a problem and that is why three officers were there. We listened to our interlocutors, with the desire to help the D.R.C., a friendly, brotherly way. The importance of this meeting April 8, is that it was a question of a missed opportunity. It marked the turning point of everything that would happen later in the Congo.
         If our interlocutors had listened to the advice we gave them that day, things were very different.
This date is crucial because at this meeting we listened to government officials including the head of Safety, Kalev and General Yav. They accused the Banyarwanda officers refuse to be deployed elsewhere in the country, not part of the system ... Kalev explained that the President was determined to protect Bosco Ntaganda, not to transfer to the I.C.C., but translated before a Congolese court.
         They raised so many points, I have kept all my notes, meeting minutes ... The three officers Banyarwanda they explained: "It is not Bosco blocking us, but the fact that many points on which an agreement was reached in 2009 have not been realized. As a prerequisite to our deployment in other parts of the Congo, it was to restore security in Kivu, solve the problem of the F.D.L.R., allow our parents for so long living in refugee camps in Rwanda to return home.
"They added," Our integration has never been complete, we were paid differently than other members, we received grades but they were never confirmed by orders, and any time we were in danger of being driven the army. "These officers conjured segregation, exclusion, being regarded as second-class military ..."
         More, They mentioned the fact that 50 of their comrades who had been transferred to Dungu in the Oriental Province, were killed in one night and that the government had never conducted any investigation. They cited the name of the person responsible for their deaths, still a colonel in service ... "" We were built, of course, but we are still frustrated. We were ready to contribute to peace in the Kivus, but does not help us: we lack transportation, communications, vehicles, money. Nothing. And how could we conduct operations against the F.D.L.R. and other armed groups? And even when we start these operations, the F.D.L.R. are informed in advance by people who, from the government side, pass their information."

         There were so many complaints that I can not remember them all. I then spoke to Kalev, asking if he knew it all. He said to the other that he had heard it so many times, he had often talked to the president, but he was not able to!
         I asked how we could get out of this situation. They repeated that they could not deploy outside of Kivu. Others have said that the government could not tolerate indiscipline and they should leave. I then warned government officials, telling them that this was a bomb, they had to find solutions before it is too late.
         As I know very well the situation in Kivu, I know everyone out there, I concluded that it was on the eve of war. I said we should avoid at all costs to get there and that if they wanted some assistance, we are ready to help them find a solution. War, we say, will affect everyone, the Congolese population, Rwanda. From our perspective, if war breaks out, the F.D.L.R. will regain ground.
         At the same time, on April 8, while we were looking for a peaceful solution to the Congolese government sent a large military force at Goma, rocket launchers, tanks T52, helicopter gunships. Goma was suddenly heavily militarized. At the moment, with Kalev the head of the Civil Yav information and the head of military intelligence, we try to solve problems peacefully, the Chief of Staff, General Etumba and the head of the Army Four Tango Amisi landed in Goma to strengthen the military effort.
         We repeated that the military option was not the best, but they went ahead. This is the same time as the officers began to desert their units, others have refused deployment.
         I then advised them to reunite the army to stop the transfers, because the situation was dangerous to look into the administration of the army, because there were too many irregularities, problems of command, discontent was general.
         About Bosco Ntaganda, we said that if he was undisciplined, this could not be tolerated, he had to be arreted where he is. They told me that this was not possible as he was in his farm. I offered to take a whole plan of new operation against the F.D.L.R.. As for commanders who refused to move to Kinshasa or elsewhere, I advised them not to be too hard on them, because it would create chaos. The situation was so volatile that using military force against them could be dangerous.
         After the meeting, President Kabila came to Goma, where he announced that at any price Bosco Ntaganda had to be arrested. This message was the opposite of what I had heard the day before, where I was told that Bosco could stay on his farm.
         At this time, it happened so many things! When Colonel Zimurinda arrived in Goma, he was disarmed, but the same evening, we paid him his weapons and his escort and he immediately joined Bosco Ntaganda. The next day, Colonel Baudouin Ngaruye was also disarmed and when in the evening we paid him his weapons after negotiations, he joined Bosco Ntaganda.
         The same day, in Rutshuru, General Amisi ordered to disarm all the soldiers of the former C.N.D.P.. Then there was a clash between these soldiers. Then, in Fizi, officers of the former Pareco, Saddam and Nsabimana were disarmed, there were skirmishes and they fled to Uvira. The commander of the region, Delphin Kahimbi, deployed forces to fight in Uvira and Bernard Nyamungu tried to protect the fugitives before fleeing himself to Bukavu, where he was arrested. Thus began the chaos.
         As for Colonel Makenga, he returned to Bukavu after our meeting. When President Kabila arrived in Goma, Makenga was supposed to return to attend a meeting, and on the road from Bukavu to Goma, there was an ambush mounted by Delphin Kahimbi. Makenga there escaped and arrived in Goma anyway but never returned to Bukavu.

This version is controversial because according to other sources, Makenga have fled by the lake in the direction of Rwanda ...

         No, he has escaped the ambush and after a few days, he called Jean-Claude Yav saying he could not return to Bukavu as long as Kahimbi would be there and he remained in Goma ..

Are you sure he has not traveled to Gisenyi at this time?


         No, he remained in Goma. Makenga did not used to come to Rwanda because he wanted to have to stop Laurent Nkunda, that he was very close. During these few days, the fighting began against Bosco Ntaganda, the F.A.R.D.C. attacked his farm and they brought reinforcements from South Kivu. Delphin Kahimbi even climbed up from Bukavu to Goma. The light arriving, Makenga left Goma turn  and went to Runyonyi, a place he knew well.
         This movement of Colonel Makenga towards Runyoni changed the whole scenario of war, if Bosco was not popular among the soldiers, not even with Banyarwanda, it was not the same case with Makenga: he was very popular with soldiers ... His departure caused a movement of desertion among F.A.R.D.C..

Former C.N.D.P. in Masisi were almost defeated and strengthened when they did move to Runyonyi. That's when we spoke in support of Rwanda ...

         This is false, hopeless. They were defeated, why do not they were captured? Between Masisi and Runyoni, there is a long distance, more than seven hours away. We could stop the block ...

But a cease-fire was declared, which allowed them to escape ...


         No, there was no cease-fire. What happened is that this force was intact, with its weapons and commanders can not say that it was defeated. We may have let it pass, intact.
What is important is that when Makenga reached Runyonyi, he had 200 soldiers. In the days that followed, thousands were: soldiers, officers converged and then defected to join Makenga, it was not only Banyarwanda. According to our information, 80% of the forces of M23 are Hutus, Pareco veterans. Bashi, Hutu, Nande, Barega, many other groups joined the M23. Even members of the bodyguard of President Kabila, the soldiers from Katanga, from Kasai, defected and joined Makenga, so there was discontent ...
         The poor management of the troops in the heart of the problem. How can you send troops into operation by giving them only a handful of beans! Instead of sending them food, you give them a bag of beans, no water, no salt, no rice, no pan or wood ... It's impossible.
We can not say that the Congolese army failed to beat the M23 because the M23 was backed by Rwanda. No. They failed because they can not fight, in conditions where they are. They do not even kill a rat .....

They could fight if they were fed properly ...

        
The food is not enough. It also requires a good command structure ... Having joined the M23, the deserters began to fight better. Not only because of the food, but because they were fighting against a system that abused them ... Saying that Rwanda supported the M23, this is wrong and I'll prove it to you ...

You say no reinforcement has crossed the border?

         I knew this area once. Runyonyi is not on the border, to walk from the Rwandan at the border Runyonyi up, takes at least eleven hours of walking, you have to cross the forest, because there are no roads, there is no link between Runyonyi and Rwanda. This whole support that Rwanda would have brought is a manipulation. But a very complicated operation. It involves the Congolese government wanting to save face after its military defeat and ordered to explain why the soldiers did not fight. It is supported by the West, disappointed by the fact that Bosco Ntaganda was not arrested by the Criminal Court and that Rwanda did not cooperate in the arrest. Rwanda is punished because he did not to cooperate with the International Criminal Court, this is the bottom line. Everyone knows that Rwanda does not have a single soldier within the M23, gives him no support. Congolese even know it, they would tell us as individuals, but they had to save face ...

But in Goma in late June, defectors have testified that they were recruited to come to Rwanda to fight in Congo ... What do we think?


         You know the Congo, you know how to Goma, Bukavu, is a melting pot of lies aired on radio by the Governor, the Minister of Information ...

Still, those who spread these stories that you call lies were many, from different backgrounds, including U.N. observers ...

         This is why I speak of a conspiracy against Rwanda, in connivance with the Congolese government and the international community. This is so. The problem is there. M.O.N.U.S.CO. has been in Congo for more than ten years and has solved nothing. It does business with the F.D.L.R., made trade with gold, coltan, we know all this.
         As for the group of U.N. experts, these young men and women who wrote the report, as Steven Hege, who advocates negotiations with the F.D.L.R., it has also been manipulated by the Congolese government.
         How the United Nations can they designate as experts people too young, too inexperienced, who are lost in the same acronyms. Even their integrity is questionable ... They do not have the minimum level of understanding needed in this area.
         For us, we're not going to stop having contact with the D.R.C.. The first of May, we had contact at the general of staff. They asked us to help them and we will. We reminded them that on April 8, they had missed an opportunity to avoid war. We asked them to stop fighting so we can see what to do, how to help.
         At this time, our Congolese interlocutors explicitly asked us to move our forces inside the Congo to help resolve the problem. We refused to move our forces ..

However you had in Rutshuru based strength ...

         Yes, they were designed to fight the F.D.L.R.. These two companies of Special Forces, alongside two companies Congolese special forces. For two years, they are there and they are always ...
         On May 3, we had another meeting in Kigali, the Congolese minister of defense and he also asked us to intervene. But we could not see how we could solve this problem militarily. On May 12, another meeting of defense ministers in Rubavu, they remake the same request. On 18 May, another meeting in Kigali on May 26, another meeting, always in Kigali, including the Congolese Minister of Foreign Affairs.
         At this time, the defeat of government forces was obvious. And it was at this meeting that, for the first time, the Congolese began to accuse Rwanda of aiding the M23, and that while we already had so many meetings to discuss how to help.
They only mentioned this charge and on our side we said some commanders had integrated F.D.L.R.. We proposed to establish a common mechanism of verification.
         On May 29, the leaders of Staff launched the verification mechanism to dispel rumors. On June 19, there was another meeting in Kinshasa, but two days before the Congolese government, the UN, accused the Rwanda ...

Meanwhile, in Goma, defectors had told M.O.N.U.S.CO. they had been recruited in Rwanda to join the M23 ...

         We were informed that we were trying to fabricate evidence to implicate Rwanda and we had informed our Congolese interlocutors. We asked them why they did that.
First there was the case of these 11 people, the F.D.L.R. who were in the camp Mutobo and were sent to Runyonyi. After that I have spoken to Colonel Yav, history disappeared. But then reappears and found the 11 defectors in the camp of M.O.N.U.S.CO. Kalev, the head of the N.R.A., is the origin of all these operations, history was made in Goma, presented to M.O.N.U.S.CO. and from there, it went to the United Nations ...
         There are so many stories ... until last when it comes to a captain that Saddam was captured somewhere by the F.A.R.D.C.. They found on him a Rwandan identity card and presented it to the group of U.N. experts. But we do not know this person, it is not on the lists of our army ... The truth is that while we were in Goma for a meeting, the head of the Congolese military intelligence came to me see in my room and about the history of the captain, he said, "we make a big mistake by making these kinds of stories against Rwanda, has already cost us so expensive ... This captain Saddam owns the Congolese army, but Kalev who decided to make a fake Rwandan identity card and send this fake testimony to the U.N. ... How imagine that decisions are made on this basis? "


If Rwanda is the victim of a plot, it is still huge, with the participation of different people, it's much ...


         There have been so many, it's true ... But now see things in front: the Congolese victims of chaos they have created themselves, the international community knows, I have the minutes meeting of eleven foreign ministers conference on security in the Great Lakes in Nairobi. The Congolese government are very clearly states that the primary cause of instability in eastern Congo, is the international pressure which it put on the arrest of Bosco Ntaganda. And then, the responsibility is placed on Rwanda!
         As for us, we continue meetings and contacts with the Congolese. But we happened to see land in Kigali two delegations from Congo., Each has its own message, different from the other and refuses a joint meeting ... This is a total confusion.
But what is very clear is that President Kabila has been fed lies by his people on the ground ...
         I think that starting this war, the Congolese have thought it would be a quick operation. They overestimated. But when things started to change in the field, they began looking for an excuse, and designate Rwanda. All the more easily that every time something does not go to Congo, means the Rwanda. To this was added the frustration of the West who wanted to arrest Bosco Ntaganda and urged President Kabila to do. All this resulted in a great chaos.

I come back with the same question, you can call into question the experts of the UN, their skills, level, you can report Kalev and manipulation of the A.N.R., but do not believe that the Americans, British, and even the Belgians also have their own sources of information. However, all confirm the same facts. Are all victims of a collective hallucination?

         We have large embassies in Rwanda, and they have the means to intelligence. They certainly monitor troop movements, logistics, movement towards the border. But for the past six years at least, there is no movement towards the Rwanda border ... How could he fight in the D.R.C. without any movement is visible?
What they say, this is information that has been transmitted to them from the other side of the border, anything they found themselves ... In Rwanda itself, they did not see anything ...
         How, in this densely populated country, the passage of hundreds of soldiers, weapons, trucks could it go unnoticed? No evidence can be provided ...

The Belgian Minister Reynders suggested that "uncontrolled Rwandan elements" might be involved. Does that seem possible?

         I am sure that the Rwandan soldiers are more controlled, better organized than the Belgians. If rogue elements exist somewhere, it would be rather in the Belgian army and within the Rwandan army. The Rwandan army is strong, well-organized, well-ordered, well-disciplined, rogue elements within it can not exist ...

And uncontrolled recruitment of Congolese Tutsi origin would be in Rwanda, it is impossible too?

         That is possible. We have refugees in camps in Buyumba, Gatsibo, Kibuye and Kigeme and other refugees are not in camps. There is recruitment in these environments, it is very possible to 100%. I told the Congolese that they had information about the recruitment, they could give them to us, for us to put an end. But the Congolese prefer to make noise and accuse Rwanda ...

Private mafia interests, they have been involved in all this?


         It is imagination, fantasy, total confusion. How Rwanda could tolerate such movements? Rwandan society is very disciplined, we can not have such items ... And even if it were, it does not explain how an army could be defeated by a few hundred elements ... Twenty two thousand elements, equipped with tanks, helicopters were thwarted by a few hundred rebels. This shows that in Congo there is no government or army, only a void.

All these observations are made, the pressure being put on Rwanda, what are the possible solutions?


         Rwanda is not under pressure. Do you really believe that the UN could put pressure on Rwanda? This is nonsense. Even the sanctions do not frighten us, they mean nothing ... But if funds are cut, budgets frozen, it can hurt ...
         Money is not a problem. In the bush we have survived without resources ... Without help, we will develop better, it will give us even more energy. If they are basing their point of sanctions on lies, let them, it does not influence the risk of Rwanda. In Congo, we have not started these stories, we did not supported and today we will not go there to clean up their mess.
We will rely on ourselves as we have always done ...

What are the possible solutions?


         It is the Congolese to find. And also members of the International Conference on Security in the 5 states of Great Lakes, which will review September. I'm not sure that the neutral force will ever see the day. As against this work, the Joint Verification Mechanism, which will consist of three representatives of each member of the conference states. The command will be exercised by Uganda, the two numbers will be from Brazzaville, others come from D.R.C., Rwanda, Burundi, Angola, Tanzania ... These officers will check the border between the D.R.C. and Rwanda, they will control the land of the cease-fire between the Congolese army and the M23 and the FDLR presence in the field. All this waiting for the eventual deployment of the neutral force. If it ever comes ...

Negotiations with the M23 are possible?


         It depends on what the conference decides. Now we have to let them play regional mechanisms. We refer to the decisions of the Conference chaired by Uganda ...
If you want to get out of this crisis, it is necessary that the international community understands that lobbying on Rwanda about the situation in the DRC, it is not good to the DRC: the problems were born there, this is where they need to be resolved. And Congolese must know that the solution to their problems will not come from the international community, but themselves. It is relying on themselves, building their own governance mechanisms, their own system that the Congolese will pull ......
         If in Kinshasa and Kasai people are hungry and revolt, in which Rwanda is it responsible for this situation? Where is the link? If Congolese continue to seek out the causes of their problems, they find it more difficult still ... In themselves that they have to find solutions ...
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* Interview in Kigali on August 29, 2012 by Colette Braeckman. (http://blog.lesoir.be/colette-braeckman/2012/08/29)

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