Blo: Good day, sir. You are one of our readers in Rwanda and you have always wanted to talk to us, because you think that sometimes we are overflowing, and you often feel that there are other realities that we do not know, is that right?
Gaspard: Yes, it’s true.
Blo: So can you introduce yourself to our readers?
Gaspard: Yes, with pleasure, I am … a Rwandan nationality and an official of the State. Here I just want to be clear on one thing: all I’m going to say here is not necessarily the position of my government, and it’s only me and not the Rwandan government. In addition, for security reasons, I ask you to keep my identity anonymous. Just call me Gaspard.
Blo: How long have you been a BLO reader?
Gaspard: It’s been more than 5 years, just a few months before the 2011 elections in DRC (Democratic Republic of Congo), because everyone wanted to know how things were going to happen in the DRC before and after these elections.
Blo: So the political life of the DRC interests you very much? If so, why exactly?
Gaspard: You know, our country is neighboring to the DRC, and for more than 20 years the political situation of the DRC is almost related to Rwanda. This is justified by the fact that there is a social tension that is always visible between the DRC and Rwanda. The Congolese population believes that Rwanda is responsible for the misfortunes it has been going through for some time, which is not true.
Blo: It is known by everyone that Rwanda has a great responsibility in all the disorders that rage in the DRC. Don’t you think so?
Gaspard: NO. That’s why I said you do not know certain things. You seem to forget that Rwanda is an independent and sovereign country, headed by a President, Paul Kagame, as much as the DRC is also an independent and sovereign country with a President called Joseph Kabila; and each country conceives its policy in its own way. So I do not understand how Rwanda can be responsible for the problem or the problems of the DRC. It is inconceivable.
Blo: So you want to deny the responsibility of Rwanda in all the internal wars that tear the DRC? If so, how can you justify the fact that Rwanda is almost always present in the various armed conflicts constantly experienced in the DRC since the advent of the AFDL (Alliance of Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Congo) ? For example, the RCD-Goma (Congolese Rally for Democracy / Goma) Rebellion supported 100% by Rwanda, the UPC (Union of Congolese Patriots) of Thomas Lubanga, the CNDP, the M23 and others …
Gaspard: I know it was at the time when the DRC was completely subdivided by internal conflicts. At the time, I remember, Rwanda was on Congolese soil to protect its borders, because the FDLR threatened our security. Returning to the CNDP of Laurent Kunda, one thing is that Nkunda was an officer of the Congolese army who rebelled against his government. It was the responsibility of the DRC to resolve this problem and put an end to this rebellion. I believe that this was the basis of the agreement of the 23rd of March 2009, and I can say that this agreement concerned the DRC and the CNDP, and if Rwanda had some regard for it, out of concern for it safety. Besides, Nkunda who had fled from the DRC was arrested here in Rwanda.
As for the M23, it was the worst theater that made people laugh …. For a few days, we see a rebellion which is forming and which is able to make flee the army of an entire government, take control of a city as important as Goma … and all this is realized in the presence of the Massive and strengthened United Nations forces …! It was incomprehensible. Anyone could question here the sense of responsibility of the Congolese authorities in their duties of management and protection of their State. As for Rwanda, what could it do other than to take measures to ensure that its borders were protected from such a phenomenon? But I believe that Kabila had played an important role in the creation and maintenance of the M23.
Blo: Why has Rwanda arrested Nkunda and kept him until now? Is he a special prisoner?
Gaspard: I believe it is up to the DRC to express the desire for his transfer to the DRC. I can assure you that even so far Rwanda has never said NO to the extradition of Nkunda. The question to be asked is why did Congolese justice never seek his extradition? I think the DRC is badly governed, that’s all.
Blo: You said earlier that Kabila could have played a role in the creation of the M23, and you still say that you believe that the DRC is badly governed. Don’t you think you exaggerate?
Gaspard: No, let’s tell the truth! I have never seen in Africa, in a country where there is responsible government, whose primary mission is the protection of the State and its citizens, armed groups and rebellions, to grow and prosper like bananas, I saw it in the DRC. Here in Rwanda, our president can never allow such a thing. However, in the DRC it is very normal. It is amazing and unacceptable that your government (the Congolese government) continues to cover its inability by accusing its neighbors as the cause of its problems. Kabila, as your president, is solely responsible for everything that happens in your country, because he is incapable.
Blo: Let’s go back to the FDLR. Rwanda has been in the DRC more than 10 years, during which the Rwandan army went as far as Kinshasa. How is it that Rwanda has not been able to put an end to the FDLR? Is the FDLR still a concern for Rwanda today?
Gaspard: I have already heard an officer in our army lament over the conduct of the Congolese army in relation to the FDLR, stipulating that Congolese government forces are working with the FDLR. There is not a good collaboration with the Congolese side on this, and there is especially a lack of will of Kabila to put an end to this terrorist movement. So what is lacking is the political will on the part of the DRC to put an end to this story.
Blo: Have you heard of Beni’s massacres?
Gaspard: Yes, yes. It was too excruciating. I take this opportunity to offer my condolences to all those who have lost theirs loved ones in these massacres.
Blo: And yet, it would have been found the hand of Rwanda in these massacres. At the beginning of this scourge and throughout the year 2015, the inhabitants and the survivors of Beni had identified Rwandans among the killers, what do you say?
Gaspard: That’s another story, we still have the aftermath of the genocide in our country. What happens now 20 years later in Béni also appears to us as a kind of genocide, given the killings that target only one tribe, the Nande. As such, Rwanda would be ready to intervene on the front line to stop these massacres, and I do not understand how it could be the basis of the massacres that take place more than 100 kilometers from its borders …? I have always read this data in your publications and that is one of the reasons I accepted this interview.
Blo: How can you explain that Rwandan subjects leave Goma to seek settlement in Beni, specifically in the area where massacres are taking place, where indigenous people are on the move and on the run to search for safer areas ?
Gaspard: One thing first, I’m not familiar with the geography of the DRC; But by reading the various reports, the DRC government has always denounced the responsibility of the Ugandan rebels of the ADF / Nalu, whom it cites as Islamist terrorists, in these massacres. But I know there are Rwandophones in the DRC in Rutshuru, in Masisi, in Goma … The reality of the movement of the Rwandophone populations towards the zone of insecurity in Beni is a phenomenon that only the Congolese government is better placed to explain. To ask that explanation in Rwanda is unreasonable. You have a president of the republic, a governor of the province and all the services of the state. Look, I do not think Rwanda could send people to go and kill in Beni.
The question that has to be asked is, what role does your government play in this situation? In fact, who should protect and ensure the safety of the people? It is your government that must control the movement of people in their country. It is your government that has a duty to protect the borders of the DRC. Yes, all of these concerns are your government’s responsibility. Rwanda has absolutely nothing to do with it.
Blo: We have evidence that says that those who kill Beni are Rwandans: they are Rwandans from Tanzania, they are Rwandan refugees who have been turned back by Tanzania … They were trained to kill in the Akagera Park in Rwanda and they were sent to the DRC to occupy land there. What do you think ?
Gaspard: 1) I am not able to answer this question. But I can assure you that we have a responsible government. If you could send your investigators here to Rwanda, I am sure that our government would show you all these refugees as they were resettled on Rwandan soil.
2) If what you say is true, namely that Rwandans have sneaked to massacre in Beni, then, once again, it is your president and the governor of North Kivu who are better placed to explain how those suspected Rwandans ended up there.
3) Your problems still and remain your problems, do not look for a scapegoat elsewhere. This is an internal problem for which Congolese should stop accusing others.
4) Find out what your government is doing in response to the multiple shakes in the DRC
Blo: Would you like to say that the Congolese government is irresponsible?
Gaspard: Yes, it is the responsibility of the government of the DRC to find an adequate solution to all these problems. It’s no use spending time accusing neighbors on the left or right.
Blo: Let us come back to the issue of return of the M23 in the DRC, Rwanda and Uganda lent them asylum. But today they have resurfaced on Congolese territory. How did they escape from Rwanda and crossed the border to destabilize the DRC? Would it not be right to allege the possible complicity of Rwanda and Uganda in the reorganization of this rebellion?
Gaspard: When you talk about the destabilization of the DRC in the current context, I think there is something you do not know. In fact, it has been for more than 15 years that the DRC has never been stable, so let’s not talk about the complicity of wanting to destabilize …
If Rwanda had given them refuge, I no longer believe that Rwanda now has any interest in interfering in this theater of insecurity to which Congolese leaders and politicians unfortunately seem to take pleasure for reasons which would be theirs own.
Rwanda has long been sullied in its reputation because of the DRC’s record. But I would like to inform you that Rwanda no longer needs to meddle in inter-Congolese issues today, because it has adopted another vision focused on:
1. The security of our country,
2. Development projects at all levels,
3. Prioritizing our population and its needs in health, education, agriculture, livestock, etc.
4. The economic positioning of our country at the regional level, in this case in aviation, with appropriate strategies to attract more and more investors.
With all these noble concerns, I do not believe that Rwanda as a Government has time to meddle in nonsense maintained in your country.
Blo: Would you say categorically that Rwanda and Uganda no longer support the M23?
Gaspard: Exactly. If Rwanda really supported the current return of the M23 in the DRC, today Goma would already be in the hands of the M23 again. There is nowhere the interest of Rwanda in the troubles that are currently taking place in the DRC. But the DRC has rather a problem of leadership. Kabila has demonstrated his inability to manage this country and to lead the Congolese towards their dream. Makenga was in Uganda, then he suddenly disappeared to find himself in the DRC. How can one explain that he completely escaped all the specialized services of the DRC until he settled firmly with his men without being caught or hunted down? Uganda had to arrest the rest of the Makenga men’s team that were preparing to join it on ground in the DRC. However, so far Makenga seems not to be considered a problem for the Congolese authorities themselves. And dishonestly, the DRC is still trying to accuse Rwanda and Uganda. Really this is not normal. Rather, we must understand that there was a plan and a hand acting in the shadow behind the presence or the return of Makenga in the DRC, that’s all.
Blo: What would this plan be and what would be that hidden hand you’re alluding to?
Gaspard: But why was no effort made to stop Makenga as soon as he entered the DRC? Who has an interest in Makenga being in the DRC? What is he currently doing in the DRC?
I have no doubt that the problem of the DRC is the Congolese government itself, because of its tendency to deliberately maintain a climate of mafia and corruption. The Congolese have to settle their account with their president and not with the foreigner or with the international community.
Blo: But it is you, I would say Rwanda, who support Kabila in power even after the expiry of his two constitutionally recognized mandates.
Gaspard: That’s just your problem, you Congolese, always avoid confronting your challenges face to face.
Kabila is not the president of Rwanda, he is the president of the DRC; And whether he is still president today or tomorrow, beyond his constitutional mandates or not, is that it is you who give him this opportunity again! If you feel that he is no longer in his proper place and is not appropriate, it is your responsibility to equip yourself with another chairman who is right for you. You should learn to accept your responsibility when you need to.
When we liberated Rwanda, it was at the time when the blood of the Tutsi was flowing like water in this country; We said « no » and we acted. Today we live in one of the safest countries in Africa … We observe you from afar with your dialogue in the DRC, but that does not reassure anyone.
Blo: What do you mean by the assurance of dialogue?
Gaspard: Congolese politicians have been in this dialogue for several months, but at the same time, there is killing all over the DRC, yes it is really a total uncertainty that characterizes your country …. From then on, we understand that the problem is not only Kabila, but also Congolese politicians, who do not understand the value of a country, a people, a nation. They are so corrupt that the future of the DRC means nothing to them.
Blo: Do you think that removing Kabila from power in the DRC would not hurt the subtleties of the current Kigali regime?
Gaspard: I think that silently, yes. Except that Kabila is now becoming a problem for security in the subregion. Indeed, considering the security data currently collected in the DRC (the number of foreign rebellions residing in the DRC), the whole sub-region faces a new risk of general destabilization if nothing is done to complete immediately stabilization of the DRC. Thus, Rwanda as well as others of the DRC, will not be able to escape this danger.
Blo: Obasanjo, the former president of Nigeria, said recently that Kabila is afraid of the unknown. In your opinion, what would be the best exit route for President Kabila in the current situation?
Gaspard: Yes, I think Kabila is really afraid of what will happen as soon as he is no longer president, because he has already registered complaints before the international courts against him. I remember having personally signed a petition on the Blessed massacres on your website. There would ultimately be as many court records that can bounce any time and anywhere in connection with the crimes recorded under his rule. Unfortunately, as we continue to protect ourselves under the cover of an eternal president, he is at risk of adding other crimes to the current record, which is already heavy enough. You know, everything that happens under the exercise of the power of a government, it is above all the head of state or the president of the Republic that takes responsibility for it.
The solution for Kabila today … I do not really know, but I think he would have only the choice to quietly leave power. He should not engage in the current political dialogue, but rather negotiate his exit and future after power. For if he persists in his maneuvers, he runs the risk of suffering the assassination or ending in prison like Laurent Gbagbo of the Ivory Coast.
Blo: What do you say in conclusion?
Gaspard: Congolese must understand that they are responsible for their country and they must learn to love their country by taking concrete actions to this end. The DRC needs the Congolese to build a future and for its development. If the Congolese people are aware that it is Kabila who is the problem that causes all it present sufferings, then it is up to it to look after itself without waiting for others. The future of the DRC is in the hands of the Congolese themselves and not in the hands of Rwanda.
I am always a reader of Benilubero Online.
Blo: Thank you, Mr. Gaspard for giving us this interview, this moment of exchange, after a long moment of hesitation.
Gaspard: I do thank you.