President Paul Kagame has blasted his Tanzanian counterpart Jakaya Kikwete’s views that Rwanda should hold talks with FDLR, a DRC-based militia responsible for the 1994 genocide, Chimp Corps report.
Kagame said “speaking casually and calling on us to negotiate with the killers of our people is utter nonsense.”
Speaking at the graduation ceremony of 45 army officers at the Rwanda Defence Forces Staff and Command College on Monday, the President described Kikwete’s idea as dancing on the “mass graves of our people.”
Kikwete’s eyebrow-raising comments about Rwanda holding talks with FDLR during the recently-concluded African union Summit in Ethiopia not only ruffled feathers in Kigali but also triggered a wave of anger across Rwanda.
According to a press statement from Tanzania President’s office, Kikwete said, “ADF is attacking Uganda and FDRL is doing the same to Rwanda so efforts should be made to end such attacks.”
“Talks should be held between governments and rebels hiding in the DRC where they launch attacks against their countries of origin. Military operations against the rebels will not yield fruit,” added Kikwete.
Rwanda’s Foreign Affairs Minister swiftly made a counterattack, describing Kikwete’s statements as “aberrant” and “shocking.”
“Those who think that Rwanda today should sit down at the negotiating table with FDLR simply don’t know what they are talking about,” charged Mushikiwabo in an interview with Radio France Internationale (RFI) last week.
Genocide survivors, whose parents and relatives were slaughtered by the Hutu militia group in the 1994 genocide, accused Kikwete of being revisionist and a supporter of “a wider plan to exterminate us once and for all.”
“In making his negationist statement, President Kikwete has not only dishonored Nyerere’s Vision but also dehumanized the Tanzanian peoples as unconditional accomplices to his genocide denial and revisionist comments,” the survivors said in a joint petition to United Nations, US and several international bodies.
KAGAME SPITS FIRE
This is the first time Kagame is pouring out his heart on Kikwete’s suggestions.
Though he did not mention Kikwete, Kagame maintained proposals that Rwanda should hold talks with FDLR are premised on “ignorance” and “ideological problems.”
“I kept quiet for the contempt I have for it (FDLR talks) because I thought it was utter nonsense spoken out of ignorance. We must be left to live our lives the way Rwandans want to live them,” charged Kagame.
He further said “RPF did not seek revenge when it had every reason to be tempted…I don’t think anybody should be having issues with us.” Kagame was referring to the post-genocide era after RPF had defeated and overthrown the regime of Juvenal Habyarimana.
The President’s statement marks a further deterioration of relations between the two countries as fears hit boiling levels that Tanzania government officials have been in talks with FDLR militants.
Meanwhile, Kagame urged the graduands to “operate with the spirit of defiance,” insisting “we have the strength that speaks on the will of our people.”
“Those who tamper with us should be made to understand that who we are and what we stand for is real Rwanda…we are too subservient, as if we also believe we are second rate human beings that must be driven by others,” he added.
Kagame did not spare the United Nations, accusing the Group of Experts that compiles regular reports on regional conflicts, particularly DRC. The UN investigators in 2012 accused Rwanda of backing the M23 rebellion, a charge Kigali vehemently denies.
Kagame said, UN investigators “are called UN Group of experts because they come from our colonial masters,” adding, “The same people who wrote Rwanda’s story in 2012 are the same people waiting to do the same this year.”
“We can’t have people running around saying all sorts of things… some still believe we must be held on a leash by colonial masters,” he added.
The President told graduands that “this course and you who attended it should help this nation to continue on the journey of defining itself,” adding, “you now have the leadership credentials to understand this nation’s larger vision of transforming our people.”
He said home-grown solutions are not only efficient, but also more operational and sustainable.
Kagame emphasized RDF is “not a myth…it’s real and does not depend on sweeteners.”
He observed that Rwanda’s constitution is the ultimate law of the land: “The will of our people is the will of our people and cannot be dictated.”