Rwanda once again calls on the United Nations Security Council to acknowledge the real causes of the crisis in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), as the only way of ending the conflict and instability in that country.
Rwanda’s statement was delivered by the country’s permanent representative to the United Nations (UN), Ambassador Claver Gatete, during a briefing on the situation in the DRC, to the UN Security Council.
Couched in measured, diplomatic language, the Rwanda envoy’s response to the statement, by UN Assistant Secretary-General for Africa, Martha Ama Akyaa Pobee, did nonetheless not pull any punches.
“The security challenges in our region are complex, but they are solvable” said the Ambassador as he concluded his remarks. “Amplifying the false allegations of the DRC government, while never holding it accountable for allying itself with armed groups, which along with FARDC (the DRC armed forces) commit serious human rights abuses against civilians, cannot lead to solutions.”
The security “challenges” outlined by Gatete, include failure not only of the DRC government, but that of the United Nations Stabilisation Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (MONUSCO), and by extension, the UN Security Council itself.
“We are deeply disappointed by the lack of a statement from the council or the UN mission in the DRC condemning the ongoing acts of genocide targeting Congolese Tutsi and Rwandaphones on a daily basis…As we have heard and as it has been reported, the government of the Democratic Republic of Congo, has extended financial support, weapons, and political cover for a number of illegal armed groups, including the UN-sanctioned genocidal FDLR (Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda). It is therefore unsurprising that there has been a dramatic surge of violence against civilians.”
In many cases, Gatete says, many violations are perpetrated within a stone throw from MONUSCO’s bases. He adds that Neither MONUSCO nor the DRC government seems concerned about the violence, or their genocidal nature.
The DRC has not only allowed hate speech to proliferate, says Gatete, it has incited mob attacks and killings against Kinyarwanda speaking Congolese.
“The ways in which authorities in the DRC have given licence to poisonous anti-Rwandaphone and anti-Tutsi hate speech, public incitement, mob killings, and targeted violence have been detailed in a number of reports of the UN and other regional and international organisations.”
“Anti-Rwandaphone slogans are and hate speech are openly propagated in schools and saturate Congolese social media platforms on a daily basis. What is more concerning is that high-level Congolese officials propagate anti-Rwanda sentiment as an expression of patriotism or civic duty, to score political points.”
The Ambassador expresses astonishment that in detailing armed in the DRC, the report does not mention the most virulent of them all, the FDLR.
“This report highlights the key active armed groups perpetrating atrocities in the DRC but inexplicably omits the FDLR despite the fact that it is the main orchestrator of the instability in the Eastern DRC.”
“The FDLR stands militia stands out from the 120+ armed groups operating in Eastern Congo on three counts: its military expertise, an extensive economic network, and the unwavering support it enjoys fighting alongside the Congolese army-FARDC” says Gatete.
The spread of the genocidal ideology in the DRC, the Ambassador told the council, bears all the hallmarks of the FDLR, or their influence.
“The proliferation of hate speech and anti-Tutsi genocide ideology widely observed in DRC today, reveals the extent of FDLR’s reach. Given the imposition of several sanctions and regional agreements, it was expected that the FDLR would have been disarmed and repatriated to Rwanda to face justice for their role in the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.”
“Instead, both the FARDC and FDLR have consistently violated Rwanda’s territorial integrity, including several cross-border rocket shelling incidents, incursions into Rwanda by soldiers of the Congolese armed forces, and several airspace violations by Congolese fighter jets” he said.
The Ambassador makes Rwanda’s view of the current DRC government starkly clear.
“DRC’s choice to integrate FDLR within government forces instead of expatriating them sends a strong and clear message to Rwanda, the region, and the international community that DRC is not interested in peace.”
Yet despite being fully aware of this, says Gatete, neither MONUSCO, nor the Security Council have seemed interested in taking any appropriate action against it, instead choosing to scapegoat Rwanda.
“Instead, Rwanda has been made the scapegoat for the insecurity in Eastern DRC. This, unfortunately, reflects an unwillingness on the part of the international community to face up to the root causes of the conflict in Eastern DRC and to demand true accountability from the Congolese government which is responsible for this legacy of failure” he said.
While emphasising that Rwanda will continue to support all the regional mechanisms to solve the crisis, he noted that the DRC showed no inclination to engage with these mechanisms, and in fact, was undermining their efforts.
“Rwanda remains committed to working within regional mechanisms, particularly the Nairobi and Luanda processes. It is common knowledge that the Government of the DRC has stalled the implementation of these efforts, including frustrating the East African Regional Force’s ability to execute its mandate.”
“Nonetheless, the implementation of the Nairobi and Luanda peace processes has been progressing; The East African Regional Forces (EACRF) have fully deployed; the cease-fire has been secured; and M23 has withdrawn from its previously occupied positions, as agreed.” “Ideally, these achievements should be followed by the DRC Government’s political process to bring the region close to its peace objectives. However, and not surprisingly, there’s no single action to date that has been taken by the DRC in line with the regional peace agreements.”
The ambassador leaves the council in no doubt that Rwanda will maintain its defensive posture, unless there is change from the DRC, and the Security Council’s approach.
“Treating the DRC government as the perpetual victim despite evidence to the contrary is symbolic of how the how the dysfunction in the DRC has been encouraged and sustained for decades. As long as Kinshasa backs the genocidal FDLR and other anti-Rwanda elements, Rwanda’s defensive and preventive mechanisms will remain in place to guard against violations of our borders and airspace, and counter any spill-over into Rwanda to ensure total security for our territory. Rwanda will never allow the FDLR and their backers, directly or indirectly, to cause any harm to Rwanda or our people” he said, as he thanked the council.