Ugandan President, Yoweri Museveni, has called Rwandan dictator General Paul Kagame, on Thursday November 7, 2013, to urge him to talk to his armed opposition before it is too late, sources within the Rwandan Defense Forces (RDF) leadership close to General Paul Kagame told AfroAmerica Network. Yoweri Museveni is the last in a string of African regional leaders who have advised General Paul Kagame over the last 6 months to talk to his armed opposition in order to bring peace in the Great Lakes Region of Africa.
Yoweri Museveni called General Paul Kagame, after attending a joint summit of Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR), held in Pretoria, South Africa, since Monday, November 4, 2013.
During the joint SADC and ICGLR Summit, co-chaired by Malawian President Dr. Joyce Banda of Malawi, SADC head, Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, ICGLR Head, and South African President Jacob Zuma, the leaders urged the Congolese M23 rebels to disarm and join the peace process within the framework for Peace, Security and Cooperation for DRC and the region, signed in Addis-Abeba on February 24, 2013 (see our article:UN Special Envoy in Great Lakes: Will Rwandan President Kagame Seize the Opportunity of March 7, 2013). The rebels, supported by Rwanda, were eventually defeated and surrendered, in the following two days.
This is Just an Advice, Yoweri Museveni tells General Paul Kagame
According to the sources, Yoweri Museveni’s call to General Paul Kagame lasted close to 15 minutes. Yoweri Museveni told General Kagame: “I just came from the SADC meeting, where the discussions on lasting peace in the Great Lakes Region were discussed. Unfortunately, it appears that most of the leaders believe that one of the major factors is the Rwandan rebels in Eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Clearly that issue will have to be addressed, one way or another. And the leaders believe that the issue may not be resolved without the Rwandan Government sitting at the negotiating table with its armed opposition. I, too, believe, maybe it is time for you to talk to your armed opposition”. General Paul Kagame refused to attend the meeting and, instead, sent the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Louise Mushikiwabo
General Paul Kagame answered: “I will never talk to the genocidaires of the FDLR. Never, … , ever. I will not talk to criminals.”
Yoweri Museveni calmed him down: “Please take this as just an advice. And I understand you. No one wants talk to criminals. But, not all your armed opposition are the FDLR. Not all are criminals. There are people, within your armed opposition, that you may start considering talking to.”
After the call, General Paul Kagame called an urgent meeting of his top advisers. He went over the content of his call with Yoweri Museveni. At the end, he said:
“Do you see what I have been telling you. We are on our own. Even Yoweri, who, we believed, was our friend and ally is turning his back against us. Today, he tells us one thing, and the next day, he goes out, meets other leaders, and stabs us in the back.”
He then ordered his top advisers come up with a strategy to deal with the increasing isolation of the Rwandan government by African regional leaders and world leaders and to meet again soon.
Rwandan Government Being Increasingly Isolated in the Region and the World.
Rwandan Government has been increasingly isolated by many Western governments and African leaders over its role in perpetuating insecurity in the Great Lakes Region of Africa. On Friday November 1, 2013, US Secretary of State, John Kerry and British Foreign Secretary called General Paul Kagame to warn him of dire consequences if he does not stay out of the conflict in Eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). It was the second time, in a year, that US and British leaders personally warn the Rwandan dictator to keep off the conflict in the DRC. In December 2012, US President Obama called General Paul Kagame, to give similar warnings.(See here S Secretary of State, John Kerry’s and British Foreign Secretary Minister William Hague’s Warnings to Paul Kagame As M23 Rebels Disintegrate of November 1, 2013).
On two occasions, over a year, the United States has cut military aid to Rwanda, as a sign of discontent towards the Rwandan dictator (see US Cuts Military Aid to Rwandan Government for Supporting Congolese Militia of July 21, 2012 and US Government Suspends Military Aid to Rwandan Government Over Recruitment of Child Soldiers of October 3, 2013).
Several Calls For Rwandan Government to Open Negotiations With Its Armed Opposition.
Over the last 6 months, a string of African regional leaders have advised General Paul Kagame to talk to his armed opposition in order to bring peace in the Great Lakes Region of Africa.
First, there was the Tanzanian President, Jakaya Kikwete, who advised General Paul Kagame to talk to his armed opposition, especially the FDLR. Instead of heeding the advice, General Paul Kagame threatened to assassinate Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete (see 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 I will Just Wait For You At the Right Place And I will Hit You, Rwandan General Paul Kagame Threatens Tanzanian Jakaya Kikwete of July 3, 2013)
On Saturday June 15, 2013, the Extraordinary Summit of the Heads of State and Government of Southern African Development Community (SADC) held in Maputo, Mozambique, urged Rwandan and Ugandan government to consider direct talks with all armed opposition groups for a long lasting political solution in the Great Lakes Region.
In their joint communique at the end of the Summit, the SADC leaders said:
“Summit appealed to the Republics of Rwanda and Uganda to consider engaging all the negative forces in an effort to find a lasting political solution in the Great Lakes Region, under the Peace, Security and Co-operation Framework.”
Then, the Belgian Foreign Affairs Minister, Didier Reynders, followed. In early July 2013, he said, while implicitly referring to the proposition by the Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete, reinforced by Southern African Development Community (SADC) recommendation to the Rwandan dictator General Paul Kagame, to open negotiations with his armed opposition in order to bring peace in Eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Rwanda and the Great Region of Africa, that: “It is clear that dialogue with all the forces that are often referred to as negative if they do not take up arms, if they agree to talk (…), it is primarily a national priority, and then in the strategic interest of the Great Lakes region.“.
The latest SADC summit, to which Yoweri Museveni was referring to, revisited all these previous recommendations, and came to the conclusion that, if peace has to come to the Great Lakes Region, then the Rwandan Government must play its part. And the only solution is to talk to its armed opposition.
“Seeing that Yoweri Museveni is even threatening me, by saying that I cannot afford to be one against the World!.. what World? We are responsible for our destiny, ” General Paul Kagame bitterly told his closest aides before closing the meeting.
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