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Military operations in the East of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) are not the solution for restoring peace  and could lead to a humanitarian  tragedy in the Great Lakes region

Mr. Martin Kobler,  the representative of the Secretary General of the United Nations in the Democratic Republic of Congo has been  promoting military operations aimed at  forced disarmament of  Rwandan combattants and repatriation to Rwanda of Rwandan refugees  residing in eastern DRC. 

The leaders of the NDC (National Democratic Congress), a coalition of the Rally for Unity and Democracy (RUD-Urunana) and the Rally of Rwandan People (RPR-Inkeragutabara) believe that this approach is dangerous, unrealistic, and irrational, given that several military operations were conducted against Rwandan refugees over the years  and have shown their limits.  Isn’t time overdue to think about other solutions, other than military, if the real goal is to bring peace to our Great Lakes region? We are ready to propose a plan to the Presidents and  leaders of the government  of  SADC and ICGLR countries, outlining a realistic approach for the peaceful and volountary disarmament  of Rwandan combattants based in the East of the DRC, including those of RUD and RPR’s  National Army (AN-Imbonezagutabara) and  for the return of durable peace in the Great Lakes region.  In fact, the leaders of the member countries of ICGLR and SADC,  better  than MONUSCO, understand the problem of the combattants and Rwandan refugees in the DRC. 

Over the years RUD and RPR’ s AN-Imbonezagutabara combattants have consistently shown, through several concrete actions, their willingness  for a voluntarily disarmament  and their commitment to help restore peace. These actions include, for example, the voluntary disarmament that took place on July 31, 2008, in Kasiki,  Lubero territory,  in North Kivu province. This process, that had the most chance to succeed,  was, in part, sabotaged by some MONUSCO officials under the pretext that it was not initiated by MONUSCO. 

Between MONUSCO and combattants, the problem is the lack of trust. 

In  preparation for the voluntary disarmament  ceremony in Kasiki,  a meeting was held. The meeting was attanded by the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation of the DRC, Mr. ANTIPAS MBUSA NYAMWISI, the Governor of the province of North Kivu, Mr. JULIEN PALUKU, MONUSCO representantives, traditional chiefs,  and the press. During the meeting,  the combattants  unequivocly  told MONUSCO representatives that they did not trust MONUSCO, for the following two reasons: 

First, the combattants  expressed their doubts about MONUSCO’s commitment to engage the government of Rwanda. For the combattants,   some officials of the United Nations  Organization seem complacent about the Rwandan regime, when it comes to the violations of fundamental rights and freedoms in Rwanda. As a proof, the combattants gathered in Kasiki showed a group among them, who had previously been repatriated by MONUSCO and who were forced to flee again because they were persecuted and hunted down by the Rwandan regime. They exhibited evidences of torture  in the presence of the  media cameras. MONUSCO officials saw  the evidences and heard testimonies,  but said nothing. 

Second,  for the combattants,  MONUSCO appears to cover and tolerate the abuses  committed by the regime in Kigali against the Congolese population. A group of combattants who had just been freshly repatriated by MONUSCO was armed and brought back into the RUTSHURU territory by the military authorities of the Kigali Government,  so they may commit atrocities  to be attributed to combattants and Rwandan refugees based in DRC. Before these fighters deceided to rejoin RUD and RPR, they had made sure to hand in  the weapons and communications equipment,  supplied to them by the Kigali government,  to MONUSCO officials,  who also received their written testimonies. Indeed, the fighters had refused to carry out the mission given to them by the Rwandan authorities.  After witnessing the testimonies by the combattants, in front of the DRC Minister of Foreign Affairs and the Governor of North Kivu and the Congolese traditional chiefs, MONUSCO officials did not challenge the evidences and found no answer to the questions from these combattants  who simply asked: "What? Where to go? ". 

Martin Kobler, by promoting military operations aimed at killing people, especially innocent refugees, including children, women and the elderely,  appears to hound  Rwandan refugees.  This attitude supports Paul Kagame’s actions of  perpetuating chaos in the Great Lakes region,  given that the leaders of the combattants have never opposed any disarmament of combatants,  whose sole mission is to protect the refugees,  victims of a plot to exterminate them. 

Indeed, Mr Martin Kobler has, himself, recently confirmed to both the Security Council of the United Nations and  the international media, that more than 240,000 Rwandan refugees are located in Eastern DRC. 

 The leaders of RUD and RPR have never been opposed to the disarmament of the Rwandan combatants.  What we have  always asked  was that  the disarmed refugees return to Rwanda peacefully and with dignity, where they can enjoy their fundamental rights and freedoms, currently denied to them by the dictatorial regime of Kigali

If, despite our call for a peaceful and negotiated solution to achieve the disarmament of Rwandan combatants, Martin Kobler should commit the United Nations forces into unwarranted military operations,  he should also be ready to bear the moral and material consequences. He needs to be ready to assume the responsibility for all the dead, within both the Congolese and  the Rwandan refugees populations.

Press Release August 19, 2014

NDC Spokesperson