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Embattled Rwandan Refugee Leader In The Republic of the Congo Gives Up Refugee Status

Sources in Brazzaville, the Republic of the Congo inform AfroAmerica Network that the embattled leader of the Rwandan Refugees Community in the Republic of Congo has resigned from her position, given up her refugees status and is getting ready to return to Rwanda.
The leader of the Refugees, Ms. Seraphine Mukantabana has been presiding over the community of the refugees since its creation in 1997-1998. She was instrumental in the creation of the Rwandan rebel organization Democratic Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) in 2000. In that role, she recruited the youth among the refugees who crossed to the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) to fight along Laurent Desire Kabila’s and Angolan troops against his Rwandan allies turned foes. With the help of Seraphine Mukantabana’s recruits, Laurent Desire Kabila was able to avert the coup plot by Rwandan troops led by the current Rwandan Minister of Defense James Kabarebe, then Colonel and the first Chief of Staff of Laurent Desire Kabila’s army.
Refugees within the Community led by MS. Seraphine Mukantabana were also instrumental in helping the current Congolese President Dennis Sassou Nguesso to conquer power after a bitter civil war opposing his militias, known as “Cobras”, to those of his predecessor Pascal Lissouba. It is the Rwandan refugees, enrolled within Sassou Nguesso’s “Cobras” who eventually captured the city of Pointe Noire, the airport of Brazzaville, and the presidential palace and forced the Congolese president Pascal Lissouba to flee the country.

After the creation of FDLR, infightings among FDLR military and civilian leaders based in Brazzaville became common and forced Ms. Seraphine Mukantabana to focus on civilian refugees matters. in 2003-2004, she traveled to Rwanda on United Nations High Commission for Refugees sponsored trips and has since hosted Rwandan government ministers and other officials on their visits to Brazzaville to lure refugees to return home unconditionally.

Her contacts with the Rwandan government created serious rifts within the Community of Refugees and made her job untenable. One faction condemned these contacts and labeled them “treason”, while another group welcomed them, as “opening.”

According to the sources in Brazzaville, it is these rifts that have forced Ms. Mukantabana to resign. In her July 17, 2011 resignation statement, Ms. Mukantabana explained that she has decided to give up her “refugee status” based on the June 6, 2003 United Nations High Commission of Refugees’ position on the status of Rwandan Refugees in Congo and the August 20, 2010 meeting between the UNHCR and the Rwandan Refugees Community during which Rwandan refugees were given four options:

  • Voluntary repatriation to Rwanda
  • Resettlement to Congo or in other countries
  • Congolese citizenship
  • Reapply for refugee status.
  • Ms. Mukantabana did not specify her choice among the four options, although it is widely believed she will get the Congolese citizenship and get residences in both Brazzaville, Republic of Congo and Kigali, Rwanda, hence maintaining the two citizenships.

    She was replaced by the Rwandan Refugees Community first Vice-president, Pierre Claver Ndahayo.

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