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Congo: perception problem - Kagame


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Q: The thrust of the report is saying Rwanda is using the security threat as a pretext, evidenced by the fact there hasn't been much conflict, and according to the Report, the RCD is collaborating with the Interahamwé. What they are saying is that the RCD are getting rich, the Mai-Mai, the Interahamwé.
A: The RCD are not rich at all. We have been wasting resources feeding them, clothing them. Secondly some of those are tricks used by people which may be complicated for you to understand. In any case, if security is a pretext, let somebody come out and say... I went to the Security Council; I was straight with them, last year; I told them 'Here are you, Security Council, be straight, tell Rwanda they have no problem in the Congo, there is no reason for them to be there, this issue of the ex-FAR and Interahamwé doesn't exist, this is what we have found out, leave Congo and put it in a resolution as the Security Council, we shall oblige. Now if you don't do that, if you know there is a problem, say what it is. Either you say there is no problem and we will be obliged to leave the Congo, because there is no problem as seen by the Security Council. But on the other hand, you actually admit there is a problem of ex-FAR and Interahamwé, then define how you are going to deal with that problem and let us know. Thirdly, at least do me a favour, tell Rwanda that "Okay, we know there is a problem. Just leave Congo because we think you should leave Congo. If anything happens as you pull out of Congo we will be on your side, we will defend you". Just a statement of commitment and we will pull out our forces. But you can't.
'Say, "We know there is a problem, we are not going to do anything about it and therefore you should do nothing about it". This is simply an unacceptable proposal. Either you say there is no problem and you know there is no problem and commit yourself and put it down. Or you say it is there and this is the best way to deal with it. But you can't say there is a problem and nobody is going to deal with it'.
So this is why I hate this overlapping of issues. Now they turn around and say these people are not fighting so maybe there is an understanding between Rwanda and Mai-Mai This is just nonsense. Why should intelligent people keep playing around with nonsense talking about ex-FAR, saying, 'Well, you see Kabila is weak, he can't deal with them, maybe Kongolo is dealing with them'. You find the whole world wasting time on nonsense. But the problem is there. There are thousands of people. You can see even these Americans who are saying they have put up 5 million dollars. They have put up $5 mn. to do what? Who is going to take that 5 mn.? You know these [Interahamwé suspects] are people protected by a government. Suppose a citizen comes and tells you, 'I have seen so-and-so on the street of Kinshasa'. How does that help to get that person when he is being helped by the government to hide? Why doesn't the USA go straight to Kabila and say, 'Kabila you must stop this or we are going to close the taps of finance to support you'. Instead of saying, 'We are putting 5 mn. to help capture so and so'. How will you do it when you have a whole government involved in supporting the ex-FAR, Interahamwé and their leaders. This is not serious.
Q: But if you are not persuaded by that, why did you pull out?
A: Pulling out should not be misconstrued to be giving up on the issue of our security. It was to deal with this nonsense of the perception growing that we are there for this or that. Let the same people go there now that we have pulled out and identify which mines we owned or which forest we owned where we are cutting timber. Maybe when we were there, we could have been accused of preventing people to investigate properly. Let them go. So pulling out is still in the context of our security concerns. If you have the whole world simply not understanding the very simple thing on the ground and they think that we are the problem, at a certain point we had to prove that we are not the problem and we had to do it at a very high cost of pulling out and then, ex-FAR following us, and coming and then we have to fight again. It is a very expensive exercise for us. But we have to do it. We have to manage the problem on the ground. We also have to manage the perception. Really, the enemies of Africa, in my view, who simply don't understand what is going on and are simply indifferent to the whole thing. Going back. We might go back. I don't rule that out and we won't ask anybody for permission. The only thing that will dictate what course of action we take will be facts on the ground.
(Africa Confidential, Paul Kagame's interview Oct. 18, 02)