President Kagame spoke about circulating allegations that Rwanda Defence Force (RDF) was in the Democratic Republic of Congo (RDF), involved in the upsurge of attacks in the eastern part of the country which recently claimed rangers in Virunga National Park.
The Head of State said that Rwanda is used to the allegations, which it has lived with for the last 26 years, dating back to the days genocidaire groups pitched camp in Eastern DRC, where different armed groups have been formed and evolved over the years.
Giving historical background of the evolving situation in Eastern DRC, President Kagame said there has always been one constant- failure to deal with the problems in the area decisively, despite continuous discussions to deal with the problem.
“What is even worse is a certain group of people, I don’t know what to call them, who should be actually responsible for dealing with this situation, end up perpetuating the situation. All these survive on myth, rumours, all kinds of things you find anywhere, including surprisingly, the experts,”
“There are experts who have been operating in this region for the past 26 years. They tell the same story, sometimes spread the same rumours, another time spread even the same lies and that is what we are now used too for the last 26 years without seeing a solution to this problem,”
President Kagame said he gave the background because he was hearing the same stories and wanted people to understand the genesis of it all.
In reference to the situation in South Kivu, particularly Uvira and Minembwe areas, south of Bukavu, he said that he is surprised that the experts choose to ignore what is actually going on there and instead choose to see what is not there.
“What I mean is that how can somebody be talking about Rwandans or RDF in that part of the region, because they are not there, and this same person or these people don’t see the very things happening there?”
“Through our intelligence collection, which we share by the way with those who are supposed to be dealing with the situation, because we give it to them when we have collected it, so that they can actually do what they are supposed to do. Our sources tell us we have forces from Burundi, government forces from Burundi, operating in that region,”
“We have a number of rebel groups, you can’t count them easily, in that situation. They involve Burundians, they involve people from here, those old groups connected with FDLR (Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda) that kept breaking up into different groups,” he said, adding that all those groups have been active in that area, working with different groups such as the Mai Mai and other groups from Burundi, all fighting each other.
“It is a cocktail. It is a mess. I don’t know whether people are confusing genuinely or deliberately, the Rwandans that are there and have been there for a long time, these offsprings of FDLR, not RDF, these are two different things,”
“There is not a single soldier of RDF that has gone to that territory, not a single Rwandan. I say it with authority but some NGOs, some journalists, are able to see battalions and all kinds of things but the government of DRC knows the fact. They know that not a single soldier of RDF is in that part of the country,” he said, adding that he doesn’t care about what MONUSCO or NGOs say.
Even in North Kivu, President Kagame said it is the same situation but added that the good thing the current government of DRC has been very helpful in working with regional countries to address the conflict in the eastern part of the country but those propagating the lies don’t see it as a good thing.
He said that for the perpetrators of the conflict, a collaboration between DRC and neighbouring countries goes against their plans to preserve the conflict in DRC. He said the same groups have been wrongly informing the government of DRC that Rwanda is coming in but they don’t complain about the groups like FDLR.
He said that despite the presence of UN forces in Eastern DRC, FDLR has been given the entitlement to operate as they wish but it becomes easy to falsely accuse Rwanda of being involved in DRC, something he said has become an answer to every problem in DRC for the groups that benefit from the conflict.