NDC also urges General Paul Kagame to seize the opportunity offered by our peace efforts to open inter-Rwandan dialogue that will lead to lasting peace and Consensual Democracy in Rwanda.
The National Democratic Congress (NDC-CND) has been made aware of a statement by a former ranking officer within the National Army (AN- Imbonezagutabara), the armed wing of RUD-Urunana and RPR- Inkeragutabara, that form the organization. The former ranking officer, Bonaventure Bimenyimana, aka Colonel Cobra, was invited to speak in front of the Rwandan President General Paul Kagame, on of his rallies in Northern Rwanda. In his speech, Bonaventure Bimenyimana referred to his former association with RUD-Urunana, during the Kisangani Peace Process. He also attacked Colonel Rugema, a high ranking officer within AN-Imbonezagutabara. Hence, it is important that our organization National Democratic Congress set the record straight.
The record can be summarized in the following terms:
- The Kisangani Peace Process was launched in Rome in 2008 under the facilitation of Sant’ Egidio Community and with the support from members of the International Community. This process will remain a key milestone that entrenches our commitment to peaceful solutions.
- The road to peace is not easy: it is full of roadblocks, hazards, distractions, and other dangers from enemies of peace.
- The key remaining roadblock to peace is General Paul Kagame’s willingness. We invite Mr. Kagame to open the door to Rwandan refugees across the World and engage in peace, for the well-being, security and prosperity of the Rwandan people and the Great Lakes Region of Africa.
What is the Kisangani Peace Process?
In January 2008, the National Democratic Congress (NDC-CND), the coalition of the Rally for Unity and Democracy (RUD - Urunana) and the Rally for the Rwandan People (RPR - Inkeragutabara) voluntarily and resolutely engaged in a peace process with the Government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), under the facilitation of Sant’ Egidio Community and the support of members of the International Community, including the European Union, United Nations, South Africa, United States of America , World Bank, SADC, UNHCR, Norwegian Government, and several Non-Governmental organizations. The Roadmap for the Peace Process was published in Kisangani on May 26, 2008.
On July 31, 2008, within the framework of the Kisangani Process, the CND launched, before members of the International Community, who included Rwandan government representatives, the disarmament process in Kasiki, Lubero, in North-Kivu Province of DRC. Within the same framework, from January 23-28, 2009, a delegation of the RUD/RPR combatants and their dependents visited Rwanda, upon the invitation of the Rwandan Government and with the facilitation of the International Community. The goal of the exploratory visit was to inquire about the security conditions and the political, social, and economical participation of citizens inside Rwanda.
The Roadmap publication, followed by the disarmament of the first group of combatants, the regroupment of disarmed combatants and refugees in Kasiki, North-Kivu, and the exploratory visit constituted strong and positive signals of the commitment to solutions for durable peace in the region that the NDC-CND sent to the DRC, Rwandan Governments, the United Nations, the European Union, the African Union, and other institutions and individuals interested in peace in the Region.
Unfortunately, the NDC was shocked when, in the night of February 7-9, 2009, FARDC and Rwandan troops attacked the camp of disarmed Rwandan refugees, including women, children and elderly. The purpose of such attacks was to make sure that war was given precedence over peace, especially when the Kisangani Peace Process was bearing fruit and opening new prospects for durable peace. Ten (10 )years later, the war to hunt down and massacre Rwandan refugees did not bring peace in the region and, instead, has aggravated the plight of the Congolese people.
Who is Bonaventure Bimenyimana, aka Cobra?
At the onset, let us clarify: Bonaventure Bimenyimana was a high ranking officer within AN-Imbonezagutabara. He was part of leaders that were given explanations early on, during the Kisangani Peace Process, the benefits of peaceful disarmament, regroupment, and repartiation of Rwanda refugees. Meanwhile, it was discovered that his repeated unacceptable conduct and lack of discipline were a major issue and threatened the peaceful repatriation and the lives of refugees. Hence, when he failed to change his behavior, he was asked to leave the organization.
In 2010, RUD-Urunana leaders expelled him from AN-Imbonezagutabara, along with Colonel Wenceslas Nizeyimana, alias Kit and 10 people. Both Major Bonaventure Bimenyimana and Colonel Winceslas Nizeyimana joined an armed group being set up by Colonel Gaheza, also expelled from RUD-Urunana in 2008, for similar reasons, and Colonel Sok, expelled from FDLR-FOCA in around 2006.
Subsequently, Major Bonaventure Bimenyimana was captured by FARDC and Rwandan Defense Forces (RDF) on the Congolese soil, while engaging into the unacceptable behaviors mentionned above. He was returned to Rwanda and has, since, been serving as a propaganda tool of the Rwandan Government. One target of the propaganda is Colonel Rugema.
Who is Colonel Rugema?
Colonel Rugema is one of the high ranking officers within National Army (AN) – Imbonezagutabara. As a Tutsi refugee in Uganda, he was among the early fighters of the Rwandan Patriotic Army (RPA). He joined RPR-Inkeragutabara, mostly composed of former RPF members, after seeing what RPF and its army, RPA/RDF, was doing in Rwanda, to Rwandans and to the people of the Great Lakes Region, especially in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
A Message to General Paul Kagame,
During the disarment ceremony i Kasiki on July 31, 2008 , a key milestone of the Kisangani Peace process, I sent the following message to General Paul Kagame, on the behalf of Rwandan refugees and the members of the political parties that form National Democratii Congress.
“ Here, in front of the international community, we make a solemn appeal, once more, to General Paul Kagame by simply telling him: “Mr. Kagame, open the door to Rwandese refugees across the world. As a former Rwandese refugee, you are aware of their daily suffering and as the President of the country, you are responsible for the terrible conditions in which they are currently living.” The only way to open this door is by engaging in dialogue. We are ready to meet the Rwandese government, directly or through independent objective mediators, in order to explore the practical modalities of this dialogue. The Inter-Rwandan Dialogue will unblock the impasse that our country, and especially the region, find themselves in. “
And, as General Musare added:
“It’s also the moment to express thanks to God who has protected us until today, the moment when the Kigali government had sworn to exterminate us with the support of its friends. The region where we live is ravaged by endless wars which have their origin in Rwanda. It’s no longer a secret. By opposing to have a dialogue with its opponents, the Kigali regime creates war and insecurity in the region. We insist that the Congolese government and the international community force the government of Kigali to accept the inter-Rwandan dialogue, the sole mean of bringing peace back to Rwanda in particular, and to the Great Lakes region as a whole. After that, all the Rwandan refugees will return to Rwanda in dignity.”
Hence, the ball is now in General Paul Kagame's court. Meanwhile, our unshakable commitment to peace remains. As the current leader of Rwanda, General Paul Kagame has the responsibility to be courageous, to seize the opportunity, and to engage in an inclusive dialogue that will lead to lasting peace and Consensual Democracy in Rwanda.
Felicien Kanyamibwa, PhD
National Democratic Congress (NDC) - Congrès National pour la Démocratie (CND) New Jersey, USA.
New Jersey, USA
May 15, 2019