Over the last few weeks, heated debates erupted following the recommendation by Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete to the governments of Rwanda, Uganda, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) to hold direct talks with their respective armed opposition.
Photo: FDLR Top Commander General Rwarakabije and Rwandan Military Chief of Staff General James Kabarebe in 2003.
Direct Talks: The Best Way, Says Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete
Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete urged these governments to hold direct talks, as the best way to bring so much needed peace in the Great Lakes Region of Africa after decades of bloodshed, violence, war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide. For President Jakaya Kikwete, Rwandan government must talk to its armed opposition, including the Democratic Forces of Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) rebels, Ugandan government to ADF/NALU rebels, and DRC government to M23 rebels (see our article Talk to Your Armed Opposition, Tanzanian President Kikwete Tells Yoweri Museveni of Uganda, Paul Kagame of Rwanda, and Joseph Kabila of DRC of May 26, 2013 and Tanzanian Jakaya Kikwete and Rwandan Paul Kagame Meet in Japan of June 1, 2013).
The proposal has raised a storm of attacks, insults and character assassination directed against the Tanzanian President Kikwete by Rwandan government top officials: the Rwandan President General Paul Kagame called President Jakaya Kikwete an ignorant Four-Bs ( “an opportunist, attention seeker , arrogant and contemptible person.” ) and the Rwandan Foreign Affairs Minister Louise Mushikiwabo accused him of being a genocide and terrorist sympathizer.
Rwandan Hutu Puppet Prime Minister on the Frontline
Even the usually obscure Rwandan Prime Minister Pierre Habumuremyi added to the foray when he stated the following in his opinion comment published by the Rwandan Intelligence Services’s owned news media, New Times on June 12, 2013:
“Shockingly, most of their killers are now scot-free in the Eastern part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo that shared a border with Rwanda. There are also others in certain African as well as Western countries. In all those parts of the world the Genocidaires continue to get support and mentorship from different people. Ironically, they (killers) are even getting support from people whom we believed were partners in the fight against the genocide ideology or who are neighbours with whom we have a lot in common.
There are two Rwandan proverbs that state that the one with bad language dies with it and that in every family there is black sheep (Inda ibyara Mweru na Muhima). Indeed, there are some neighbouring countries that used to have good leaders who were champions of African unity, who loved the truth and only truth, who contributed a lot in the fight for independence of African countries to the extent that they were called Fathers of those countries. All we know is that those countries were true friends to Rwanda and its people.
Unfortunately, those Panafrican leaders were not succeeded by people who shared their exemplary leadership qualities.”
So even the Rwandan Prime Minister Pierre Habumuremyi, who is widely classified by Western diplomats and independent observers in Kigali, among the puppets and incompetent Hutu government officials appointed by the Rwandan Patriotic Front Government to project an illusion of inclusion (see our article:US Embassy in Rwanda: Power in Hands of a Powerful Tutsi Minority With A Few Incompetent Hutu Figureheads of September 4, 2011) , dared to call the Tanzanian President a mediocre leader, for merely urging dialogue as the best way to solve conflicts.
Jakaya Kikwete and General Paul Kagame: Deadlock?
The problem with Rwandan leaders, including Foreign Affairs Minister Louise Mushikiwabo, Prime Minister Pierre Habumuremyi, and President General Paul Kagame, is that Jakaya Kikwete has something to show and to marry his words to deeds: successful inter-Burundian dialogue in Burundi, successful inter-Mozambique dialogue, and the support of South Africa through the painful transition from apartheid, in which Tanzanian Government played a major role, if not the role of being the peace broker.
To date, there is a deadlock: Rwandan government officials have adamantly said that they will not negotiate with the Rwandan armed group FDLR, whereas the Tanzanian Government stuck to its guns and maintains its recommendation.
The government of Rwanda has maintained that FDLR are terrorists. The problem with this is that the Rwandan government has welcomed the ex-FDLR overall commander, General Rwarakabije, now a top official within the Rwandan government, and many more FDLR top commanders, founding members, and troops. When faced with the “direct talks with FDLR” dilemma and the hypocrisy typified by General Rwarakabije case, the Rwandan Defense Minister General James Kabarebe recently tweeted:
“I didn’t negotiate with Gen Rwarakabije to return,he came at his own will and I facilitated him.”
“I will facilitate any FDLR to return,if he abandons genocide ideology.To come and integrate or face justice if he killed”!
The problem is that he lied. He initiated the dialogue with General Paul Rwarakabaje through a Rwandan Intelligence Services operative who had infiltrated FDLR well before its creation and who was later compensated handsomely. But that is the subject of another story and it is not the issue.
Is FDLR-FOCA a Terrorist Organization? That is not question.
Rwandan argues that FDLR is a terrorist group, classified as such by the United Nations (UN) Security Council and Western governments. This is partly true. The UN Security Council never classified FDLR as a terrorist group. However, the UN Security Council did take sanctions against most of the top FDLR political and military leaders since 2009 and recently against FDLR-FOCA as a group.
Western governments took in the past a step further. On April 27, 2005, the U.S. State Department identified 40 Foreign Terrorist Organizations (FTO) in its annual terrorism report. Among groups identified were the Democratic Liberation Forces of Rwanda (FDLR) and the Ugandan Lord’s Resistence Army (LRA)(see here our article USA: Rwandan Rebel Group designated Terrorist by State Department of May 12, 2005).
Since then, the United States has removed FDLR from the list of Foreign Terrorist organizations (FTO) (see US State Department FTO List here). However the United States Government has a special treatment of the FDLR:
First, FDLR was maintained on Department of Treasury Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons List under: “DEMOCRATIC FORCES FOR THE LIBERATION OF RWANDA (a.k.a. COMBATANT FORCE FOR THE LIBERATION OF RWANDA; a.k.a. FDLR; a.k.a. FORCE COMBATTANTE ABACUNGUZI; a.k.a. FORCES DEMOCRATIQUES DE LIBERATION DU RWANDA; a.k.a. “FOCA”), North and South Kivu, Congo, Democratic Republic of the [DRCONGO] (see here).
Second, the list of Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons also includes most of the top FDLR political and military leaders: Ignace Murwanashyaka, Straton Musoni, Callixte Mbarushimana, General Gaston Iyamuremye, General Leodomir Mudacumura (a.k.a. MUPENZI, Bernard; a.k.a. MUPENZI, General Pierre Bernard; a.k.a. “COMMANDANT PHARAON”; a.k.a. “MUKANDA”; a.k.a. “RADJA”), Colonel Fred IRAKEZA (a.k.a. NSANZUBUKIRE, Felicien), General Pacifique NTAWUNGUKA (a.k.a. NTAWUNGULA, Pacifique; a.k.a. “COLONEL OMEGA”; a.k.a. “NZERI”), General Stanislas NZEYIMANA (a.k.a. BIGARUKA IZABAYO, Deogratias; a.k.a. IZABAYO DEO; a.k.a. “BIGARUKA”; a.k.a. “BIGARURA”), Colonel Leopold MUJYAMBERE (a.k.a. IBRAHIM, Frere Petrus; a.k.a. “ACHILLE”; a.k.a. “MUSENYERI”) .
Besides, FDLR and all top military and political leaders are on the United Nations Security Council sanctions list.
Finally, two recent developments have highlighted the approach of the West towards FDLR-FOCA:
- In April 2013, the US government offered US$5 million for information leading to the arrest, transfer and conviction of Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) supreme commander, General Sylvestre Mudacumura.
- In June 2013, the German Government arrested three FDLR-FOCA sympathizers, known as Bernard T. , Felicien B. and Jean Bosco U.
Hence, to come back to our initial question.
Was FDLR ever a Designated Terrorist Organization by the US Government? Yes.
Is It Now? No.
But its top political and military leaders face several political, diplomatic and security hurdles and most are under sanctions in several countries and at the United Nations.
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