Kinshasa, Kigali row spells trouble for regional economic recovery

The diplomatic feud between Kigali and Kinshasa threatens to undermine the region’s favourable economic outlook if tensions escalate as both sides trade accusations of aiding armed militias in the volatile eastern DRC region bordering Rwanda.

In its latest sub-regional economic outlook report for Eastern Africa to be released next week, UNECA projects the region will marginally grow at 4.3 percent in 2022 — well above the continental forecast of 2.7 percent and the global 2.5 percent.

“This is a relatively good performance in East Africa when compared with others. However, compared to itself, a growth rate of 4.3 per cent this year shows a slower economic expansion from 2021, when we recorded an average growth rate of 6 per cent,” Mama Keita, Director, Sub-Regional Office for Eastern Africa, UNECA based in Kigali told The EastAfrican on Thursday.

Multiple shocks

However, the region now faces multiple shocks that have stalled recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic-induced economic downturn including climatic shocks that have intensified across the region with severe droughts and heavy rains being recorded more frequently and for longer periods than before.

The situation is worsened by the cost of living crisis, which is based on high fuel and food costs due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine earlier this year.

“Added to this are the effects of internal tensions or security threats in the DRC, Ethiopia, Somalia and South Sudan. These multiple shocks are of course taking a heavy socioeconomic and humanitarian toll, with millions of lives and livelihoods at stake,. Keita said.

She underscored that the multiple crises not only negatively affect growth but also fuel other risks including the cost of living, the level of debt and the exchange rate — all of which affect the purchasing power of populations, reduce the fiscal space for governments and prevent them from investing and fostering growth.

Risk profile advisory

“This situation increases the vulnerability of countries,” she said.

Stakes remain high as analysts are also beginning to raise the risk profile of the region due to the ongoing crisis. For instance, in its latest rating released October 28, Fitch ratings gave Rwanda a ‘B+’ rating citing its low level of GDP per capita and persistent twin budget and current account deficits, which have resulted in high and rising public and external indebtedness.

While the country’s strong governance and highly concessional nature of its public sector debt mitigate these risks, analysts at Fitch said its outlook is negative with risks partly linked to the ongoing “adverse global economic and financing environment, and risks to grants and concessional government financing related to the conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo.”

Fitch expects Rwanda’s real GDP growth of 5.9 percent in 2022 and 5.5 percent in 2023, largely driven by a strong rebound in tourism and service sectors. Inflation is expected to average 15 percent in 2022 and 12.5 per cent in 2023, before easing in 2024.

Rwanda’s Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning did not respond to our request for comment by press time on Fitch’s ratings.

Tensions remain

The forecast comes as tensions remain despite renewed regional diplomatic efforts to avoid an escalation.

Angola’s President Joao Lourenco, who is leading mediation on behalf of the AU, and Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary for Foreign and Diaspora Affairs Alfred Mutua were expected in Kigali on Friday in the latest attempt to quell tensions.

Their visit comes after Rwanda this week accused the Congolese government of violating its airspace after a Sukhoi-25 fighter jet from Congo briefly touched down at Rubavu Airport in Rwanda’s Western Province.

Rwanda this week accused the Congolese government of violating its airspace after a Sukhoi-25 fighter jet from Congo briefly touched down at Rubavu Airport in Rwanda’s Western Province.

“No military action was taken by Rwanda in response, and the jet returned to DRC. Rwandan authorities have protested this provocation to the DRC Government,” the Rwandan government said in a statement issued 7th November.

In their defence, the Congolese government said its jet “unfortunately” entered Rwandan airspace and that it has “never harboured intentions of violating that of its neighbour’s.”

Despite the simmering tensions, officials have so far ruled out going to war.

In a recent communique after a meeting between foreign ministers of both countries in Angola’s capital, Luanda on November 5, both parties agreed “to continue the political dialogue between the leaders of the DR Congo and the Republic of Rwanda, as a way of resolving the bad political atmosphere between the two neighbouring countries.”

In Rwanda, officials have raised concern about “provocation” but maintain that they are committed to the ongoing regional mechanisms to resolve the standoff.

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The diplomatic feud between Kigali and Kinshasa threatens to undermine the region’s favourable economic outlook if tensions escalate as both sides trade accusations of aiding armed militias in the volatile […]

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RwandAir starts non-stop flights to London

Rwanda’s national flag carrier RwandAir has launched direct flights between Kigali and London, England, shortening the flight time for travellers between the two cities as the airline seeks to expand its service portfolio.

The new direct flight replaces the existing service between London and Kigali, launched in 2017, with one stop in Brussels, Belgium.

The inaugural flight left Kigali Sunday afternoon and landed in London Monday morning.

The carrier said there would be four direct flights weekly from Kigali to London – Sunday, Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday – with return flights on Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday.

The direct flight will also help the carrier link travellers from London “via Kigali to a wealth of destinations in Africa, the Middle East, and Asia,” it said in a tweet just before the first flight left for London.

“The UK is an incredibly important market for us, and we know our customers will value the shorter flight times and increased connections that will be offered by the new service,” Yvonne Makolo, RwandAir’s chief executive, said last month while announcing the direct flights’ plan.

RwandAir is ranked among the best ten African airlines by British airline review and rating company Skytrax. It currently serves 28 routes across East, Central, and Southern Africa, the Middle East, Asia, and Europe, from Kigali International airport, its hub.

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Rwanda’s national flag carrier RwandAir has launched direct flights between Kigali and London, England, shortening the flight time for travellers between the two cities as the airline seeks to expand […]

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Uganda, Rwanda to beat Kenya in dollar millionaires growth

Kenya will trail Uganda and Rwanda in terms of growth in the number of super-rich individuals with investible assets worth more than $100 million over the next decade, due to more conducive business environments in the two East Africa Community states.

Kenya is projected to post a 55 percent growth in the number of centi-millionaires over the next 10 years to 2032, trailing Rwanda at 70 percent and Uganda at 65 percent, said a report by research firms New World Wealth and Henley & Partners.

Globally, Vietnam, India and Mauritius are expected to post the fastest growth in centi-millionaires in the decade at 95 percent, 80 percent and 75 percent, respectively.

The report said Kenya remains strong in wealth creation partly due to well-developed and neutral news media outlets that form investment decisions.

“It is important that most major outlets in a country are neutral and objective. A well-developed financial media space is especially important as it helps disseminate information to investors,” the report says.

Besides a favourable financial media, Kenya remains a favourable holiday destination for the centi-millionaires. The country is ranked the 9th top holiday destination for the mega-rich, with the Hamptons in the US, leading the pack.

Read: Tanzania has the only dollar billionaire in East Africa: report

“American centi-millioanires travelling to Kenya for the annual migration boosts the nation’s tourism industry, with luxury hotels and lodges such as Giraffe Manor (the most Instagrammed hotel), Kichwa Tembo tented and Angama Mara cashing in to accommodate the moneyed guests” Maryanne Maina, the chief executive officer of Swan Maison Concierge Paris, said in a comment in the report.

A separate report by New World Wealth and Henley & Partners last month ranked Nairobi fifth in terms of the number of dollar millionaires. The report showed Nairobi has 5,000 high net worth individuals (HNWI).

The report showed Nairobi is also home to 240 multi-millionaires, who have a net worth of more than $10 million, and 11 centi-millionaires, who are worth more than $100 million. It, however, does not have a dollar billionaire.

Kenya has 8,500 dollar millionaires, according to the Africa Wealth Report 2022, which was released by the same firm in April. This means that Nairobi is home to 59 percent of Kenya’s HNWIs, underlining its status as Kenya’s economic hub and richest city.

However, no African city made it to the list of the top 20 cities globally that have the highest number of dollar millionaires, which was dominated by US cities.

Henley & Partners Chief Executive Juerg Steffen noted that 14 of the Top 20 wealthiest cities in the world are in countries that host formal investment migration programmes, and actively encourage foreign direct investment in return for residence or citizenship rights.

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Kenya, Rwanda ride on AfCFTA to enter West Africa

Kenya and Rwanda are eyeing the West African market with Ghana becoming the next partner for both countries under the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement.

On Wednesday, Kenya’s President William Ruto flagged off Kenyan tea to Ghana. He was with AfCFTA secretary-general Wamkele Mene.

Last week, a consignment of Kenyan batteries worth $77,000 was received in Tema Port, Ghana in a historic ceremony that marked Kenya’s first exports under the AfCFTA agreement.

“When we began the journey to consolidate the market in Africa, and provide the infrastructure using the AfCFTA statute, it looked like it was a dream but today we are living that dream as a reality,” said President Ruto.

“This event today marks the first step in a journey that will liberate our continent from export of raw materials to the rest of the world to the export of processed, manufactured products not just in our continent but to the rest of the world.”

And this week, Rwanda exported coffee products to Ghana as part of the AfCFTA Guided Trade Initiative.

Kenya is among six countries selected to participate in the pilot phase of the AfCFTA Initiative on ‘guided trade’. Others are Rwanda, Tanzania, Cameroon, Egypt and Mauritius.

“What Kenya and Ghana are doing is to give commercial meaning to the whole project which we all stand in the African Union, the project of integrating our market, our economy as a continent and placing our continent to global competitiveness one day,” said Wamkele Mene, secretary general of the AfCFTA.

“The display we have seen here in the packaging (Ketepa) is value added production for Africa to trade in industrial products, to create opportunities to uplift millions of people out of poverty, for SMEs industrial products and for young people.”

Mr Mene recalled that in 2015, the African continent exports recorded $6 million worth of unprocessed tea and coffee, thereby making huge losses for failure to include value addition.

“The global market for coffee and tea is estimated to be over $100 billion. The processing and repackaging is done elsewhere outside our continent and you can see the losses in the value chain. And so today is the beginning of reversing that trend which has sustained in the last 60 years or so,” said Mene.

“Another example that disturbs me is that in 2019 our continent imported $6 billion worth of pharmaceutical products but those components that make those pharmaceutical products that we import from the rest of the world are made in Africa. They are here in Africa.”

He added, “Our capacity as a continent to industrialise and accelerate our opportunities in terms of global competitiveness I believe starts today with this initiative. On Friday Cameroon, Tunisia, Egypt and Mauritius will follow, and will also be trading in manufacturing.”

Outgoing Trade Minister Betty Maina said Kenya was eyeing other export markets in Africa.

“We have identified other markets in Mauritius, Egypt and Cameroon, of products which we will be piloting under this initiative,” said Ms. Maina.

“This pilot’s initiative of guided trade under the AfCFTA has been preceded by preparations in our country. Our trade facilitation agencies such as the Kenya Revenue Authority, and Kenya Bureau Standards and others have all aligned themselves and have prepared the necessary documentation to support this initiative.”

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Rwanda genocide ‘financier’ Felicien Kabuga trial to open in The Hague

Alleged Rwandan genocide financier Felicien Kabuga will go on trial in The Hague on Thursday, one of the last key suspects in the 1994 ethnic slaughter that devastated the small central African nation.

Kabuga’s trial will open at 0800 GMT before a UN tribunal, where he has been charged with genocide and crimes against humanity for his role in the Genocide against the Tutsi 28 years ago.

Read: Rwanda protests Kabuga trial delay at Hague court

Also read: Genocide survivors welcome decision to begin Kabuga’s trial

Prosecutors and the defence are expected to make their opening statements on Thursday and Friday, with evidence in the case to start the following Wednesday.

Kabuga’s lawyers entered a not guilty plea to the charges at a first appearance in 2020.

Once one of Rwanda’s richest men, prosecutors say the octogenarian allegedly helped set up hate media that urged ethnic Hutus to “kill Tutsi cockroaches” and funded militia groups in 1994.

Now in his mid-80s, Kabuga was arrested in France in May 2020 after evading police in several countries for the last quarter of a century.

He was then transferred to the UN’s International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals in The Hague, set up to complete the work of the now defunct Rwanda war crimes tribunal.

Read: Rwandan genocide suspect Kabuga denounces charges as “lies”

Said to be in fragile health, Kabuga in August appeared before the judges in a wheelchair — and it was not known whether he’ll be in court on Thursday as judges are permitting him to attend the hearings via a video link.

Kabuga was originally scheduled to appear in court in Arusha, where the other arm of the IRMCT — also referred at as the MICT — resides, but judges had ruled he would remain in The Hague “until otherwise decided.”

Also read: Kabuga’s trial in Arusha will lift the lid off a dirty East African family secret

In June, the judges denied a defence objection, ruling Kabuga was indeed fit to stand trial.

Swift trial wanted  

The UN says 800,000 people were murdered in Rwanda in 1994 in a 100-day rampage that shocked the world.

Read: Felicien Kabuga: The quiet businessman from Byumba who took over Kigali

An ally of Rwanda’s then-ruling party, Kabuga allegedly helped create the Interahamwe Hutu militia group and the Radio-Television Libre des Mille Collines (RTLM), whose broadcasts incited people to murder.

The radio station also identified the hiding places of Tutsis where they were later killed, prosecutors said in the indictment.

More than 50 witnesses are expected to appear for the prosecution, which said they needed about 40 hours to wrap up their case.

Prosecutors said Kabuga controlled and encouraged RTLM’s content and defended the station when the minister of information criticised the broadcasts.

Kabuga is also accused of “distributing machetes” to genocidal groups, and ordering them to kill Tutsis.

Read: Felicien Kabuga pleads not guilty of genocide, crimes against humanity

Later fleeing Rwanda, Kabuga spent years on the run using a succession of false passports.

Investigators say he was helped by a network of former Rwandan allies to evade justice.

Following his arrest in a small apartment near Paris, his lawyers argued that Kabuga, whose age is now given as 87 on the indictment, should face trial in France for health reasons.

But France’s top court ruled he should be moved to UN custody, in line with an arrest warrant issued in 1997.

Kabuga is one of the last top wanted suspects for the Rwandan genocide to face justice.

Others, including the man seen as the architect of the genocide, Augustin Bizimana, and former presidential guard commander Protais Mpiranya have both died.

Victims of the genocide have called for a swift trial for Kabuga saying “if he dies before facing justice, he would have died under the presumption of innocence.”

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Alleged Rwandan genocide financier Felicien Kabuga will go on trial in The Hague on Thursday, one of the last key suspects in the 1994 ethnic slaughter that devastated the small central African […]

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Rwanda, DR Congo differ on M23 threat, offer parallel solutions in French mediation

Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo agree that M23 and other armed militia are a major security threat and are hurting bilateral ties. However, the two countries are prescribing different solutions to the problem.

This week in New York, presidents Felix Tshisekedi of DR Congo and Rwanda’s Paul Kagame met under mediation of French President Emmanuel Macron. They agreed to resume talks on how to tackle the M23 threat.

“The two presidents agreed to act together to obtain, as soon as possible, the withdrawal of the M23 from all occupied regions and the return of displaced people to their homes, with the support of the United Nations and their partners in the African Union, the East African Community and the Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR),” the DR Congo presidency said in a statement.

The dispatch said President Kagame and President Tshisekedi “have also agreed to intensify their co-operation in the long term to fight against impunity and put an end to the action of armed groups in the Great Lakes region, including the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR). These efforts will take place within the framework of existing regional peace initiatives, including the Nairobi process.”

Kigali did not release the “joint statement” but indicates that the leaders had discussed solutions to the conflict in the DR Congo’s eastern region.

The New York meeting, however, was preceded by harsh words for Rwanda by President Tshisekedi in a speech on Tuesday at the UN General Assembly.

He said that Rwanda was undermining peace efforts in the DRC.

“Despite my goodwill for the search of peace, some neighbours have found no better way to thank us than to aggress and support armed groups that are ravaging eastern Congo,” he said.

President Tshisekedi added: “In defiance of international law, [Rwanda] has once again not only interfered in the DR Congo since March by direct incursions of its armed forces, but also occupies localities in North Kivu province by an armed terrorist group, the M23, to which it provides massive support in terms of equipment and troops.”

President Kagame hit back a day later, noting that the insecurity situation in eastern DRC had exposed Rwanda to “cross border attacks that are entirely preventable”.

“The blame game does not solve the problems,” he said in his speech to the UN General Assembly.

“There is an urgent need to find the political will to finally address the root cause of instability in eastern DR Congo. These challenges are not insurmountable and solutions can be found. This would ultimately be much less costly in terms of both money and human lives,” President Kagame added.

Tensions have persisted, with officials from both governments telling The EastAfrican that no progress has been registered since the height of hostilities earlier this year.

“There is no improvement in relations at all. DR Congo has insisted on Rwanda as its scapegoat for the insecurity in the east, even when they have so many rebel groups operating there,” a Rwandan official said on condition of anonymity.

Kinshasa sees Rwanda as a state aggressor, particularly with the capture of Bunagana town by the M23 rebels. Rwanda sees the DRC as a supporter of former genocide masterminds FDLR group, which is hiding in DR Congo.

“Bunagana has to be free for RwandAir to be allowed to resume flights to DR Congo. This is DR Congo saying, ‘M23 is Rwanda’,” a DRC official told The EastAfrican.

Takeover

Since June, M23 rebels have controlled Bunagana town in the North Kivu province that borders Uganda.

The advance of M23 culminated in the suspension of RwandAir flights to the DRC, as well as the shelling of rockets into Rwandan territory by the Congolese army.

This week, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres told France 24, that the only way to achieve peace is through “serious” discussions between the DR Congo, Uganda and Rwanda.

“We need to have a joint perspective to avoid this situation that always takes us backwards when we make progress.

“These countries need to understand each other. These countries must co-operate effectively for the security of the Congo and also to guarantee security in Rwanda and Uganda.”

The DRC and Rwanda had opened dialogue under a Joint Commission. But the two countries have only had one meeting, in late July. Previously, the Joint Commission had not met for 10 years.

After the resurgence of the M23 rebels, this year the DRC accused Rwanda of supporting the Congolese rebels militarily and in the supply of arms.

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Emmanuel Macron meets Paul Kagame and Felix Tshisekedi over DRC war

French President Emmanuel Macron has met with the leaders of Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo, seeing progress in easing tensions that have flared in recent months.

On the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly, Macron on Wednesday invited Rwandan President Paul Kagame to lunch with his DR Congo counterpart Felix Tshisekedi, who a day earlier had accused Kigali of backing rebel attacks in his country.

Read: Tshisekedi accuses Rwanda, again, of backing rebels

The three leaders together “noted their concerns about the resurgence of violence in the east of the DRC,” the French presidency said in a statement.

France said that Kagame and Tshisekedi agreed on the need for the pullout of M23 rebels from the strategic town of Bunagana on the Ugandan border.

The three leaders want to “intensify lasting cooperation to fight impunity and put an end to activities of armed groups in the Great Lakes region,” including the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda, or FDLR, the statement said.

Kagame’s government has demanded a crackdown on the FDLR, a Rwandan Hutu group that Kigali views as a threat due to links to the 1994 genocide.

But the M23, a separate group in the violence-wracked east of DR Congo, has been the focus of recent tensions. 

In his address to the General Assembly on Tuesday, Tshisekedi alleged that Rwanda has provided “massive support” to M23, which he blamed for the shooting down of a UN peacekeeping helicopter in March, in which eight people died.

“Rwanda’s involvement and responsibility are no longer debatable,” he said.

Kagame called for calm in his own address on Wednesday.

“There is an urgent need to find a political need to find and address the root cause of instability in eastern DRC,” Kagame said.

“The blame game does not solve the problems. These challenges are not insurmountable and solutions can be found,” he said.

“This would ultimately be much less costly in terms of both money and human lives.”

Kagame’s government has long rejected allegations of backing the M23, but US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, on an August visit to Kinshasa, said there were “credible” reports of Rwandan support.

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Tshisekedi accuses Rwanda, again, of backing rebels in DR Congo

DR Congo President Felix Tshisekedi has reignited an accusation against Rwanda, insisting that Kigali is still fanning rebel groups in his country’s territory.

In a speech to the UN General Assembly, Tshisekedi claimed his efforts to reunite the country and pursue peaceful settlements have been dragged by continual external interference, accusing Rwanda, in particular, of fomenting rebel movements.

“Despite my goodwill for the search of peace, some neighbours have found no better way to thank us than to aggress and support armed groups that are ravaging eastern Congo,” he told an audience on Tuesday night.

Read: DRC, Rwanda agree to ease tension and normalise diplomatic relations

Also read: The M23 demon: Could Rwanda ultimately invade eastern Congo?

Turning to Rwanda, he said: “In defiance of international law, has once again not only interfered in the DRC since MARCH by direct incursions of its armed forces (Rwanda Defense Force RDF), but also occupies localities in North Kivu province (eastern DRC) by an armed terrorist group, the M23, to which it provides massive support in terms of equipment and troops.”

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Tshisekedi accuses Rwanda, again, of backing rebels in DR Congo

WEDNESDAY SEPTEMBER 21 2022

    

DR Congo President Felix Tshisekedi at the UN headquarters.

Democratic Republic of the Congo President Felix Tshisekedi addresses the 77th session of the United Nations General Assembly at UN headquarters in New York City on September 20, 2022. PHOTO | ANGELA WEISS | AFPADVERTISEMENT

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By PARTICK ILUNGA

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DR Congo President Felix Tshisekedi has reignited an accusation against Rwanda, insisting that Kigali is still fanning rebel groups in his country’s territory.

In a speech to the UN General Assembly, Tshisekedi claimed his efforts to reunite the country and pursue peaceful settlements have been dragged by continual external interference, accusing Rwanda, in particular, of fomenting rebel movements.

“Despite my goodwill for the search of peace, some neighbours have found no better way to thank us than to aggress and support armed groups that are ravaging eastern Congo,” he told an audience on Tuesday night.

Read: DRC, Rwanda agree to ease tension and normalise diplomatic relations

Also read: The M23 demon: Could Rwanda ultimately invade eastern Congo?

Turning to Rwanda, he said: “In defiance of international law, has once again not only interfered in the DRC since MARCH by direct incursions of its armed forces (Rwanda Defence Force RDF), but also occupies localities in North Kivu province (eastern DRC) by an armed terrorist group, the M23, to which it provides massive support in terms of equipment and troops.”

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The accusation against Rwanda, which has been rejected many times before by Kigali, is likely to elicit a response when Kigali’s representative addresses the UN later in the week. But it could also signal simmering differences between the two countries that had initially cut official communication between them before resuming talks.

In July, after meeting in Angolan capital Luanda, under mediation of President Joao Lourenço, Rwandan President Paul Kagame and President Tshisekedi agreed to reopen dialogue and have their differences solved diplomatically.

Read: Region steps up diplomatic firefighting in Rwanda-DRC tensions

Tshisekedi told the audience he is always ready to pursue peace, speaking of recent arrangements to hold dialogue with rebel groups that did not succeed as other parties to the talks pulled out.

“Since my election as head of state of the DRC, I have not stopped fighting every day for peace. In order to definitively eradicate insecurity, restore lasting peace and ensure stability in the East of my country, several agreements have been signed with armed groups and even neighbouring countries.

“National and international mechanisms have been created. All these prospects for a final settlement of the conflict lasted only a few months. Soon, the architecture cracked and the building collapsed; we always start with the same tragedies.

Read: Rwanda: ‘Leaked UN report’ on DRC invasion a distraction from real issues

Tshisekedi spoke at the opening of the regular session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York. And for 38 minutes, the Congolese head of state touched on global security issues, including terrorism, which he argued had not spared the African continent. He also talked about the armed conflict between Russia and Ukraine and the need for a peaceful settlement between these two countries.

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Benin officials in Rwanda for talks on support to fight insurgents

Police chiefs of Rwanda and Benin have discussed ways to strengthen cooperation and support the West African country, seeking military assistance to tackle the worsening terrorism insurgency.

Rwanda’s Inspector General of Police (IGP), Dan Munyuza, hosted the Director-General of Benin Republican Police, Soumaila Allabi Yaya, in Kigali on Monday for the talks.

The Benin delegation is in Rwanda for five days “to learn and draw inspiration from Rwanda’s peacekeeping experience” as both countries seek to enhance security cooperation, including fighting organised and transnational crimes.

Benin government spokesperson had told Reuters on Saturday that Kigali could provide logistical support but would not involve deploying Rwandan troops to the country.

On whether there are plans to deploy in Benin, the Rwanda National Police deputy spokesperson, Apollo Sendahangarwa, told The EastAfrican that “there are no signed agreements for now”.

“For that to happen, a memorandum of understanding would have to be signed and legal grounds would be established, which has not happened for now,” he added.

Deadly assaults

Benin, alongside the Gulf of Guinea states Togo and Cote d’Ivoire, has seen increasing attacks from militants linked to al Qaeda and Islamic State as violence creeps south from the Sahel countries of Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger.

Benin, alongside Togo and Cote d’Ivoire, has been battling strings of deadly assaults by jihadists in the northwest from a spillover of militant activity in neighbouring Burkina Faso and Niger.

“I know you (Rwanda) have a lot of experience in the fight against terrorism, and we want to draw inspiration from it to protect our country, which has been plagued for some time by sordid demonstrations by lawless people,” Mr Yaya said.

Rwanda deployed a peacekeeping mission in Mozambique in July last year, with 1,000 soldiers and police deployed to fight Isis-linked militants in the Cabo Delgado province. The country also deployed troops to the Central African Republic.

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Police chiefs of Rwanda and Benin have discussed ways to strengthen cooperation and support the West African country, seeking military assistance to tackle the worsening terrorism insurgency. Rwanda’s Inspector General […]

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Joint Tanzania, Burundi and Rwanda power project nears completion

The Regional Rusumo Falls Hydroelectric Project (RRFHP), a joint venture by Rwanda, Tanzania, and Burundi, is 95 percent done, with completion set for November this year.

The 80MW project was started in February 2012 to supply electricity to the three countries by December 2021 but was extended by two years following procurement flaws that increased its cost by over 20 percent.

Read: Rusumo power project delayed by two years

The three governments received $468 million worth of grants and loans from multiple development partners, including the World Bank and the African Development Bank, for the project.

Taking over the one-year rotational chairmanship at the weekend, Tanzania’s Energy minister January Makamba said the project is expected to catalyse development in the three countries.

Each country is expecting 26MW to be added directly to its national grid.

“This project shows the willingness of these countries to use natural resources to bring about the development of their citizens,” said Mr Makamba.

Respective governments expect the project to help plug power supply deficits. Rwanda specifically banks on the project to help reach its 100 per cent electrification target by 2024.

The project is located at the Tanzania-Rwanda border, Rusumo Falls.

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The Regional Rusumo Falls Hydroelectric Project (RRFHP), a joint venture by Rwanda, Tanzania, and Burundi, is 95 percent done, with completion set for November this year. The 80MW project was […]

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Rwanda ruling party RPF waits in the wings as rivals bicker

Wrangles in Rwanda’s main opposition party could hand a walkover to the ruling Rwanda Patriotic Front (RPF) ahead of next year’s parliamentary elections in 2023. And the dominant party in the country could ride on that to the presidential elections in 2024, leaving opponents politically dead.

The Democratic Green Party of Rwanda, led by Frank Habineza, is the only opposition party in the country not in a ruling coalition of the RPF.

Habineza unsuccessfully contested against President Paul Kagame in the 2017 presidential elections, managing a paltry 0.48 percent of the vote. He is currently under pressure after dismissing some members he accused of “harboring treacherous plans of destroying the party from within by creating another political party.”

“We had two members in our committee who were conspiring against the party. We investigated the issue and found they were in touch with opposition groups outside Rwanda, including RANP — Abaryankuna (Rwandan Alliance for The National Pact) which has a different cause than us. So, we dismissed both…” Habineza told The EastAfrican. The RANP are said to be exiled in Mozambique.

However, the duo contested his version. Ferdinand Mutabazi and Jean Deogratius Tuyishime who were dismissed by the party claim the disagreement is linked to Habineza’s leadership.

Both were influential leaders of the officially registered party with 400,000 members wanting to contest in their internal election to lead the party in 2023.

Mr Mutabazi represents the party in Southern Province while Mr Tuyishime represents the party in the Northern Province.

In a separate interview, Ferdinand Mutabazi, told The EastAfrican that the dismissal was based on factless accusations and that Habineza was threatened by his “growing influence” in the party.

Mutabazi says he plans to sue the party president for defamation and run against him in the next parliamentary election either as a private candidate or another party’s candidate. He did not deny or admit to planning to form another political party. He denied all the allegations and counter-accused Habineza of being “a paranoid, self-centred leader who leads the party as his own company”.

Observers say the infighting puts the party on the verge of splitting. Frederick Golooba-Mutebi, a researcher, and political analyst says the splitting and intra-conflicts hurt the parties and their influence in Rwanda’s political space.

SOURCE

Wrangles in Rwanda’s main opposition party could hand a walkover to the ruling Rwanda Patriotic Front (RPF) ahead of next year’s parliamentary elections in 2023. And the dominant party in […]

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US senator questions aid to Rwanda over human rights, role in Congo

The chairman of the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee said he would place a hold on US security assistance to Rwanda in Congress over concerns about the Rwandan government’s human rights record and role in the conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

In a letter to US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Senator Robert Menendez called for a comprehensive review of US policy towards Rwanda.

Menendez said he would begin by placing a hold on several million dollars in support for Rwandan peacekeepers participating in UN missions, according to the letter, which was leaked to the media and which his office confirmed was authentic. A hold is a Senate procedure that prevents a motion from reaching the floor for a vote.

Menendez said he feared that US support for the Rwandan military, while it is deployed to Congo and backing rebels, would send “a troubling signal that the US tacitly approves of such actions.”

Read: The M23 demon: Could Rwanda ultimately invade DRC?

The M23 rebel group began a major offensive in Congo’s eastern borderlands with Rwanda at the end of March. Congo has accused Rwanda of backing M23, which Kigali denies.

Read: The M23 problem, Kigali’s headache and some hard truths

The United States allocated more than $147 million in foreign assistance to Rwanda in 2021, making it Rwanda’s largest bilateral donor.

Menendez also cited what he said were credible accusations that the Rwandan government was muzzling critics at home and targeting dissidents living outside the country.

The US State Department reviews its policies in response to events on the ground and would consult closely with Congress on the question of aid to Rwanda, department spokesperson Ned Price said on Monday.

“We’ve said before that we’re concerned about the rising tensions between the DRC and Rwanda,” Price told a regular press briefing, urging both sides to exercise restraint and engage in dialogue.

A Rwandan government spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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The chairman of the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee said he would place a hold on US security assistance to Rwanda in Congress over concerns about the Rwandan government’s human […]

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The smallholder farmers feeding the long food supply chain in Rwanda

Rwanda is one of the smallest countries in East Africa, but one of Africa’s most densely populated nations. It has the highest bean consumption per capita globally, followed by Burundi, and is the second-largest per capita consumer of bananas.

On a Thursday afternoon, under the scorching sun, hundreds of farmers lined up in Kigali’s suburb, Mulindi, known to be a junction of cheap fresh food from different parts of the country.

Energetic and enthusiastic, they got down to the business of selling fresh from-the-garden foods. Among them was Charles Mwizerwa. He isn’t a farmer. He is an innovator who had showed up to present different solutions to the challenges the country’s agricultural sector has faced for ages.

An agronomist and researcher at the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), Mr Mwizerwa talked about an application called ICT4BXW, which, he said, has helped smallholder farmers across Rwanda combat banana disease.

“Over 8,000 smallholder farmers have downloaded the app, and they teach others about the information they find there. The ICT4BXW is an ICT-based tool with information in Kinyarwanda that acts like an early warning system to provide real-time data on the incidence of Banana Xanthomonas Wilt disease,” Mwizerwa said.

He added that farmers who do not own a smartphone can call 845 toll-free and learn about banana farming and how to fight diseases.

“This will increase food security in the country. About 20,000 farmers have used the platform,” he said.

Morris Haragirimana, another innovator, has gone in a different direction. He has developed a solar-powered irrigation system that he sells to farmers in his home area in Bugesera at Rwf 60,000 ($59).

“This drastically reduces the cost of production for farmers. It has made irrigation possible in some remote areas where electricity has not yet reached. This system is durable and farmers who buy it no longer need to worry about electricity or fuel bills. It is environment friendly and requires little maintenance,” Mr Haragirimana said.

Harvest Day

But these are only a small representation of what is happening behind the curtains in the struggle to feed 12 million in the predominantly agricultural country, where 72 percent of the working population is employed in agriculture.

Largely a subsistence agricultural country — much like the rest of the East African Community partner states — there is now talk of a “silent agricultural revolution” taking place in Rwanda.

Every first Friday of August, Rwandans gather in their communities to celebrate the National Harvest Day, Umuganura — meaning “thanksgiving day.” It is a century-old practice, and the food is communally shared in a large flat basket to reflect Rwanda’s food production.

The food mostly includes beans, sweet potatoes, pumpkins, maize, green vegetables, cassava, and sorghum cake — the most productive crops in Rwanda, according to the Food and Agriculture Organisation.

Rwanda, ranked the highest in bean consumption per capita globally, with an average resident consuming 34.8kg, is followed by neighbouring Burundi, where an average person consumes 31.5kg. The country also consumes a lot of banana, which is grown at different levels by at least 90 percent of households, according to the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture.

Rwanda is ranked the second-largest consumer of banana in the world, with an average Rwandan consuming about 227kg of banana per year, according to the Helgi Library which utilises data from the FAO corporate statistical database (Faostat) .

Although 75 percent of Rwanda’s agricultural produce comes from smallholder farmers, the sector employs about 70 percent of the population and contributes to around 30 percent of the country’s GDP.

In addition to the challenges of climate change and the fact that 90 percent of Rwanda’s terrain is sloppy, which makes it prone to soil erosion and land degradation, the UN reports that 81.3 percent of the country’s population is food secure.

Also read: Warning over hunger crisis gets louder in E. Africa

Food production

However, Rwanda’s food production is only a drop in the ocean of what the East African region produces, although production still varies.

Tanzania, for instance, contributes more than 80 percent of the total rice production in EAC, with the rest of the members supplying 20 percent, according to the Regional Agricultural Investment Plan.

Take Uganda, for example, 89 percent of the population is food secure. The FAO describes its population as still having normal access to food from own production as food prices in the market are affordable and have an “acceptable food consumption score” and can afford at least three meals per day of a diversified diet.

In contrast to Kenya, 36.5 percent of the population is food insecure. Kenyan farmers, whose crops depend on rain, are becoming increasingly vulnerable to drought and the unpredictability of weather patterns resulting from climate change, although this is a shared problem. Nevertheless, agriculture accounts for 65 percent of the country’s export earnings, and provides employment for more than 80 percent of the Kenyan population.

Although Rwanda’s population is generally food secure, the 2021 Global Hunger Index ranks Rwanda 98th out of the 116 countries, with a score of 26.4.

“Rwanda has a level of hunger that is serious,” the report says, an outlook compounded by data that shows that stunting has been a persistent issue in the country, despite efforts to eradicate, or at least reduce, it.

The UN estimates that 800,000 Rwandan children under five are stunted. Although the rates of chronic malnutrition among children under five decreased from 44 percent to 38 percent, rates are still too high. It is estimated that 18 percent of children between six and eight months are stunted, and 49 percent for children aged 18-23 months are stunted, with children in rural areas are more stunted than those in the city.

Part of the reason for stunted growth in Rwanda is high poverty rate, where more than 30 percent of the population is under the poverty line. Farming, perhaps unsurprisingly, has become one of the frontlines in the battle against poverty and hunger.

Agriculture jobs

One of the high-profile figures in this fight is Gerard Sina, 59, who has created more than 280 full-time jobs and 600 part-time jobs in Rulindo District, where he was born.

Mr Sina, who started his business when he was only 20, has also built a school in his home area, with the nursery to secondary sections, where learners study free, even those in boarding school.

His successful career started from his parents’ sweet potatoes harvest in 1983, whose puree Sina used to make his famous Urwibutso doughnuts, kick-starting his success and the transformation of the area where he was born.

Mr Sina, who works with more than 3,000 farming families, also offers free seeds, fertiliser, training and buys crops when ready for harvest. His flagship, “Akabanga,” a chilli pepper oil, has gained attention for himself and the country, and is probably one of the most well-known Rwandan products globally.

Many pieces have been moved to solve the Rwandan agricultural puzzle. One of them is seeds. After years of spending millions of dollars on seed imports, Rwanda says it has reached its target of becoming a self-sufficient in seeds supply. It is no longer importing maize, soybean and wheat seeds.

Before 2017, it depended on imports to meet its need for these seeds, bringing 3,000 tonnes of hybrid maize seed, 800 tonnes of wheat and 700 tonnes of soybean every year. Well up to 463,500 farmers now have access to improved seed. One of the many who moved the pieces is the pan-African agricultural organisation the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa.

In 2009, AGRA, through a grant, supported Rwandan maize farmers with the first hybrid seeds and, later, partnered with the Rwanda Agricultural Board in capacity-building of local seed companies under a project named “Securing Early Generation Seed for Emerging Seed Industry in Rwanda.” Before then, the country relied on imports.

One of the beneficiaries of the programme is Norah Kamashaza, 36. She has two farms in the Eastern province; one in Bugesera and another in Nyagatare, but she also rents out land to grow maize. Now, she has a significant market in the Eastern province, and sometimes also sells her produce through the government-owned “smart nkunganire” platform, where dealers search for stock and buy at a wholesale price.

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Rwanda is one of the smallest countries in East Africa, but one of Africa’s most densely populated nations. It has the highest bean consumption per capita globally, followed by Burundi, […]

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The M23 problem, Kigali’s headache and some truths few want to hear

Soon after Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni was elected President of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) – the predecessor to the African Union — the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) composed of Rwandan exiles and refugees, mostly Tutsis, decided to attack Rwanda on October 1, 1990 using his country as a launch pad.

Four years earlier, the Rwandans had helped Museveni rise to power in Kampala and had held key positions in the new Ugandan army. Paul Kagame, the current president of Rwanda, was a senior officer in the Ugandan military intelligence, while his comrade in arms Fred Rwigema, killed at the frontline in the early days of the campaign, had been minister of State for Defence.

Museveni was upset, his election at the helm of the continental body meant the elevation of the former rebel leader, brought to power by the force of arms, as an equal among world peers. And now these “boys,” as Museveni used to call them, risked ruining his moment. The situation seemed all the more upsetting as he had trouble convincing anyone that he was not behind this “aggression” on a neighbouring and brotherly country.

Museveni recounted how it happened while he was attending the United Nations General Assembly in New York: “The news reached me at night, I tried to wake President [Juvenal] Habyarimana in vain. The man was a heavy sleeper.”

Thirty years later, Rwanda was likely in the position Museveni was, following the recent attacks of the Congolese rebel movement of March 23rd, as M23 – in reference to an unfulfilled peace treaty signed on March 23, 2009, between its leaders and the government of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

It came as Kigali was getting ready to host, in less than a month, 50 heads of state, members of the Commonwealth. While relations between Rwanda and the DRC had finally warmed up with the advent of Félix Tshisekedi to power in Kinshasa, Kigali would have done without another M23 attack, which put it in a delicate geopolitical situation, provoking fresh anti-Rwandan rhetoric in DRC.

Congo problem, Rwandan exhibits

rebels
A rebel group in Ituri Province, the northeastern Democratic Republic of Congo on September 19, 2020. PHOTO | AFP

The DRC public often conflates the M23 with the Rwandan army, and for good reason. Some commanders of the rebel group had joined the Rwandan Patriotic Army (RPA), the military wing of the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) in its own armed struggle of the 1990s which put an end to the genocide against the Tutsi.

Once the war was over, the Congolese Tutsi returned home to their highlands of Kivu, eastern DRC, where in the meantime, anti-Tutsi hatred had been shifted by the genocide perpetrators, who had been defeated back home. Supported by then Zairean strongman Mobutu Sese Seko, the “genocidaires” were targeting the Tutsi in Zaire.

This is how, with the support of Rwanda and Uganda, they took up arms again to defend their community in a struggle that galvanised other Mobutu opponents with their own national grievances, leading them to march on Kinshasa, ousting Mobutu, and replacing him with Laurent Désiré Kabila in September 1997.

Once installed, Kabila would fall out with his hitherto allies who had brought him to power, even going as far as collaborating with the same genocidaires. His replacement by his son Joseph Kabila would not change much.

In Rwanda, there was hope with the advent, at last, of a new first name in the Congolese political spectrum since its independence in 1960: in the absence of Antoine, the patriarch; his heir Felix!

Read: Kagame stars in DR Congo Tshisekedi ceremonies

All seemed well at first, with the coming to power of Felix Tshisekedi, relations between the DRC and Rwanda were almost repaired. It was mostly the Congolese diaspora, aggrieved by “the aggression of little Rwanda on great Zaire,” who disliked the new rapprochement.

Short-lived honeymoon

To understand the “M23 problem” one needs to appreciate that there are three types of rebels in the DRC. The first, small militias with no national political agenda, that attack civilians, rarely fight each other, coexist with the regular army (FARDC) and UN peacekeepers (Monusco). These constitute the majority, their interests do not go beyond their communities. There are more than 100.

Then there are foreign groups that exploit the weakness – some read it as an absence – of the state and national army, to use the vast DRC territory as a breeding ground for attacks against their countries of origin. It is in this category that we find the Rwandan genocidaires, known as FDLR, and the Ugandan terrorists known as ADF-NALU. In the past, there were other Sudanese and Ugandan groups – including the infamous Lord Resistance Army (LRA) of Joseph Kony, Congo-Brazzaville groups and even Angolans. The dense forests of the DRC are a festering ground for all manner of armed groups from the region.

Then there is the M23. Congolese citizens, with national grievances linked to lack of security, discrimination of their community and poor governance at large.

The first and second categories of militias are rarely bothered because they do everyone’s business: smuggling, illicit trafficking of minerals, enriching FARDC commanders and multinationals, sponsor political careers in Kinshasa and justify the presence of both UN forces in the DRC for more than 20 years and that of the Force Intervention Brigade (FIB) for 10 years.

The M23 pose a (geo)political problem, because they seize territory, threaten power in the capital Kinshasa, which in turn exposes the weaknesses of the national army, of national politics, and of the UN. To make themselves heard, the M23 are fighting against everyone, including the two other categories of rebel groups, the FARDC, and even Monusco – sometimes all three in a coalition.

Read: DR Congo’s M23: A rebel group re-emerges

According to an “incident monitoring think tank” manned by international researchers in eastern DRC, the Congolese army FARDC is one of the most violent against civilians, at times their killings surpass those of Ugandan Islamists ADF-Nalu, and Rwandan FDLR genocidaires.

Ten years ago, M23 was defeated by a UN-backed Force Intervention Brigade (FIB) made of South African, Tanzanian and Malawian armies. FIB’s mission was to defeat “all the negative forces” in eastern DRC. At the time, M23 posed little resistance and with some political assurances, withdrew into Rwanda and Uganda.

The FIB seems to have since “acclimatised” to Congolese “Rumba” like everyone else, read: doing nothing, and allegedly engaging in illicit trade.

Rock and hard place

map showing conflict-prone DRC provinces

Upon accession to power, President Tshisekedi wanted to be seen as tackling the protracted armed conflict in eastern DRC. So he declared a “State of Siege” in North Kivu and Ituri. State of emergency means the region is run by the army and most civil rights are suspended. State of emergency also means a hefty budget sent to eastern DRC and managed by the army.

Read: Military replaces civilian authorities in eastern DRC

However, a recent parliament audit revealed that of the $74 million allocated to “State of siege” to be sent to Kivu and Ituri, 68 percent was “eaten” in Kinshasa, 12 percent went to unknown expenditure of the army, and only the remaining 20 percent was sent to eastern Congo.

Following the recent attack by the M23 two months ago, the occupation of the towns of Bunagana and the province of Ruchuru on the border with Uganda, Tshisekedi accused Rwanda of supporting the rebel movement, a charge Kigali vehemently denies.

But what alternative did Tshisekedi have? Should he have explained to the Congolese that they have no army? That they never had one? That Mobutu appealed to mercenaries (Jean Schramme, Bob Denard) or to foreign countries (Morocco, Senegal, Chad, Togo) to help keep security and power? There are more than 58 countries contributing troops to Monusco for over 20 years, with dismal results.

Read: DR Congo wants UN mission to leave

monusco
Monusco soldiers fire at Codeco militia during the extraction of a Red Cross team which had been ambushed in Dhedja on December 19, 2021 in Ituri, DR Congo. PHOTO | AFP

The FARDC spend their time playing “Sobels” (Soldier by day, Rebel by night) – a sobriquet borrowed from Sierra Leone and Liberia civil war of the 90s. They change clothes to loot the populations they are supposed to protect, collaborate with the FDLR, and sell weapons and ammunition on the black market from Uvira to Beni.

Read: How M23 and Congolese army commanders benefited from $57m illegal trade in Kivu

Are the Congolese ready to listen to these truths? The first politician to venture there would immediately sign his political death, a year before the elections, and Tshisekedi is not suicidal. Using Rwanda as a scapegoat seems like the only political card in his hand.

Read: DR Congo, Rwanda agree to ease tension

Hate speech revived

While no proof of these accusations has been brought forth, the streets, from Kinshasa to Brussels, need no further convincing. Unfortunately, accusing Rwanda brings with it the old demons of “Tutsiphobia”. Anti-Tutsi hate speech across DRC has risen to troubling proportions. Congolese social media is awash with anti-Rwanda hate speech, lists of Tutsi members of the FARDC are being published online with rewards promised to anyone who would “cleanse our army”.

Tutsi of Banyamulenge community in South Kivu’s high plateau have left their homesteads after their cattle were looted by various militia, and now live in UN-protected IDP camps.

Images of young militias affiliated to Tshisekedi’s ruling party (UDPS) were seen in the streets of Kinshasa, armed with machetes, stopping cars looking for Tutsis. Several people have been killed by Congolese mobs, for allegedly “looking” Tutsi, including one Lt-Col Joseph Kaminzobe, member of the Banyamulenge community and officer of the regular army, burnt alive by young people in Lweba, South Kivu. Many Congolese Tutsi civilians are reported to have been burnt alive, and at least in one case, Mr Semutobo, a Munyamulenge, was lynched by a mob of young people in Kalima district who posted it online.

Read: Rising hate speech in Congo conflict alarms UN

M23’s beef with Kinshasa

peace agreement signed in Nairobi in December 2013, between the Congolese government and the M23 consisted of:

  • Amnesty to all M23 fighters who did not commit war crimes and crimes against humanity;
  • Register M23 as a legitimate political party.
  • Repatriation of “Rwandophone” of Congolese nationality, sheltered in refugee camps in Rwanda and Uganda.

The agreement has never been implemented for ten years hence, causing the recent attack by the M23.

Ironically, M23 claims it doesn’t want to fight. While they are occupying important towns of Bunagana and Ruchuru in Noth Kivu, they claim to do so to compel the DRC government to implement the Nairobi accords and are ready to relinquish them.

bunagana
Bunagana in the Democratic Republic of Congo on the border with Uganda. PHOTO | MORGAN MBABAZI | NMG

Amid the accusations against Rwanda and its denials, there is one fact: Kigali is not going to fight the M23.

Indeed options of possible support to the DRC army in fighting M23 were being studied in Rwandan quarters until Congolese politicians started accusing Kigali and FARDC shelled Rwandan territories of Rubavu and Kinigi, heightening tensions between the two neighbours.

As a reminder, the M23 political wing, which has been sheltered in Rwanda for the last ten years, has not left their camps, while those of Uganda, led by Commander Sultani Makenga quietly left Uganda five years ago, and have since been based in DRC forests near the Ugandan border.

Following routs on the battlefield during the war that opposed it to the RPF in the 90s, then Habyarimana’s government accused “Ibyitso Tutsi” internal spies of the loss. My mother, who had run a hairdressing salon in Kigali for 10 years, and who had never been involved in politics, was arrested and detained for a year with thousands of other civilians, for the simple reason that they were Tutsi. Today, it is the turn of any Congolese with “Tutsi facial expressions” to “prove their citizenship”.

I am not worried about the repeated calls by Congolese populists to attack and annex Rwanda, after all, as Wole Soyinka would say, “A tiger does not proclaim his tigritude, he pounces”. What worries me is the resurgence of hate speech and violent killings targeting Congolese Tutsi, and anyone with “doubtful” features; the Luba, Ngbandi, Bashi… all Congolese citizens.

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Soon after Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni was elected President of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) – the predecessor to the African Union — the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) composed […]

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Photo AFP

Hope springs eternal for UK-Rwanda migrant deal

The UK-Rwanda migrant deal is likely to go on despite leadership change in the Conservative Party after the resignation of Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

A judicial review to consider the lawfulness of the asylum arrangement is due to be heard in the High Court in the UK soon. The hearing is expected to last three days and a decision delivered by end of July.

While the change of leadership in the UK’s Conservative Party is expected in October, a change of policy is unlikely as the party had already backed the asylum arrangement.

This is part of a broader package of reforms in the recently enacted Nationality and Borders Act, which the UK government says will “deter illegal entry into the UK, breaking the business model of people smuggling networks, and speed up the removal of those with no right to be in the UK.”

“The (refugee ) policy will continue,” a well-placed UK official told The EastAfrican. “I am sure this important relationship will only be invigorated by a change of leader at this point. Rwanda won applause for the Chogm and there are great hopes for the Commonwealth under its new Rwandan chair.”

This is part of a broader package of reforms in the recently enacted Nationality and Borders Act, which the UK government says will “deter illegal entry into the UK, breaking the business model of people smuggling networks, and speed up the removal of those with no right to be in the UK.”

“The (refugee ) policy will continue,” a well-placed UK official told The EastAfrican. “I am sure this important relationship will only be invigorated by a change of leader at this point. Rwanda won applause for the Chogm and there are great hopes for the Commonwealth under its new Rwandan chair.”

The UK and Rwandan governments are promoting the arrangement as an innovative solution for a “broken” international refugee protection regime. They contend it will deter criminality, exploitation and abuse and support the humane and respectful treatment of refugees.

Kigali says migrants will be entitled to full protection under Rwandan law, equal access to employment, and enrolment in healthcare and social care services as well as the issuance of necessary identification documents.

But the deal has been criticised by a broad range of stakeholders. Some Conservative MPs have voiced doubts about its legality, practicality and value for money.

Asylum rights advocates have practical concerns about the arrangement and Rwanda’s suitability as a host. They also say the deal undermines the post-WW2 international protection regime.

Last week, the UK announced a migration deal with Nigeria to “tackle illegal migration and speed up the removal of foreign criminals.”

Source

Photo: AFP

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DRC, Rwanda agree to ease tension and normalize diplomatic relations

The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Rwanda on Wednesday agreed to immediately cease hostilities between the two countries, Angolan President João Lourenço has announced.

Following the Wednesday meeting in Luanda, DRC President Felix Tshisekedi and Rwanda’s Paul Kagame also agreed to create an ad-hoc observation mechanism to help ease tensions, he added.

Luanda will next Tuesday host the Rwanda-DRC bilateral joint commission meeting, President Lourenço, who is also the chairman of the International Conference for the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR), said in his capacity as mediator.  He was appointed by the African Union to mediate in the Kinshasa-Kigali crisis.

“I am pleased to announce that we have had positive results, in our view, in that we have agreed on a ceasefire, among other measures that are contained in the roadmap that has just been presented,” President Lourenço added.

Presidents Paul Kagame (Rwanda), João Lourenço (ANgola) and Felix Tshisekedi (DR Congo) speak following a mediation meeting in Luanda on July 6, 2022. PHOTO | COURTESY | DR CONGO PRESIDENCY

Rwanda and DR Congo have been at loggerheads following counter accusations of each country supporting different rebel groups in eastern DRC hostile to the other nation.

DR Congo and Rwanda relations deteriorated after Kinshasa accused Rwanda of backing the M23 rebels, who have been involved in a series of clashes with the army since the end of May. Kigali denied the allegations, but in turn accused DRC of supporting FDLR rebels who are hostile to Rwanda.

On Sunday, President Tshisekedi said that there was no doubt that Rwanda was backing a rebellion in his country after the resurgence of the M23 rebels active in the east of the country, near the border between both countries.

Kinshasa had earlier also suspended Rwandan carrier RwandAir from flying into the country, and summoned Rwanda’s ambassador to warn him of the country’s position.

The medication process was meant to help restore confidence between Rwanda and the DRC.

“This objective will be achieved gradually via a so-called Luanda roadmap based on the re-launch of the DRC-Rwanda joint commission, which has not met for several years,” Tshisekedi’s communication office said. This commission will hold its first meeting on July 12, 2022 in Luanda.

The roadmap stipulates a willingness to normalise diplomatic relations between Kinshasa and Kigali.

“Angola has amassed vast experience in solving conflicts thus I think this conflict between DRC and Rwanda will come to an end with President Lourenço’s mediation,” Macolino Tavares, a political analyst, told The EastAfrican.

“This conflict between brothers has no deep reason to keep on. With Angola mediation it will come soon to an end,” Matias Pires, another analyst, told Angolan state-owned Rádio Nacional de Angola.

SOURCE

The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Rwanda on Wednesday agreed to immediately cease hostilities between the two countries, Angolan President João Lourenço has announced. Following the Wednesday meeting in […]

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