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Why Kinshasa And FDLR Remain Friends

8 Min Read

Kinshasa regime whether under President Felix Tshisekedi or others after him has managed to convince Congolese that Kigali is very envious of their natural resources.

In simple terms anyone at the helm in DRC will easily renew their term in office depending on how they play the Rwanda card.

Kinshasa will therefore do anything within their means and resources to convince Rwandan rebels, FDLR, to keep around and will also quickly blame Kigali for any problems arising within the Eastern region.

“Under the fallacious accusation of FARDC support for the FDLR, Rwanda actually has expansionist tendencies with the main interest of appropriating our minerals and to do this, it is working to destabilize eastern Congo to create a zone of lawlessness in order to satisfy her criminal appetites”, the Congolese President said recently.

President Felix Tshisekedi who will be seeking re-election this year is faced with a big challenge for mishandling the M23 rebellion, failed diplomacy, corruption and bad governance just like his predecessors.

When he assumed power few years ago, the burning issues at the time were; widespread feeling that Banyamulenge people are not Congolese because of their ancestral origin in Rwanda and the debate that foreign Militias were an extension of a foreign plot and part of a long term project to divide DRC and grab its land and resources – simply known as Balkanization.

However, President Tshisekedi in January 2020 flew to London to meet with the Congolese Diaspora and told them, “The Banyamulenge are Congolese, they have remained from generation to generation in DRC. It’s like you who took the nationality here. It is abnormal that you are not considered. I spoke to them, asked them to demonstrate that they are Congolese through acts.”

Fed up with unending xenophobic attacks, the Banyamulenge people picked up arms and have consistently decided to defend themselves and have overtime organised and reorganised through successive rebel movements including the current M23 outfit.

Kinshasa has repeatedly accused Kigali of sponsoring the M23 movement and therefore through its original transcript Kinshasa has also used the FDLR to battle the M23 but this time forgetting the Mineral resources accusations.

Seeing an unexpected withdrawal by the M23 from occupied zones, the Kinshasa government has now deployed its spin masters to enable Tshisekedi appear victorious in this game with the rebels.

Fortunat Biselele The private adviser to President Tshisekedi has brought out his brush and white paint to clean up the messy image of his boss and ofcourse demonise Kigali since they only have 12 months to elections.

Biselele has for the first time revealed what President Tishisekedi and President Kagame discussed in one of their first meetings intended to fix issues between the two countries.

According to Biselele , Tshisekedi offered President Kagame the exploitation of Congolese minerals in exchange for the address book of the Rwandan President.

“President Félix offered his Rwandan counterpart a simple thing: We are a rich country, you are our neighbour. No war will move borders, we will remain neighbours for life. I suggest you set up projects where we will play Win-Win, win-win. I have minerals at my house that interest you. You have the possibility with your address book to contact investors from all over the world. And we will work in synergy to try to develop the area [Great Lakes Region] together,” said Biselele who was Tshisekedi’s privileged emissary to Kagame.

He explained that on June 26, 2021, the DRC and Rwanda signed three bilateral trade agreements, one of which related to the exploitation of gold with a view to ensuring its traceability, after two days of face-to-face talks between Presidents Tshisekedi and President Kagame.

These deals related to the protection and promotion of investments, to an agreement to avoid double taxation and tax evasion, but also, to an agreement concluded between the Congolese company Sakima (minerals Kivu and Maniema) and a private Rwandan company known as Dither SA.

The Congolese presidency, announced that Sakima SA (Société aurifère du Kivu et du Maniema) and the Rwandan company Dither Ltd signed a memorandum of understanding for cooperation in order to “deprive” the groups armed with revenues from illicit gold mining.

“There will be complementarity between the two companies which should control the chain of values from the extraction by the Congolese company Sakima and the refining by the Rwandan firm Dither HER ,” DRC presidency said.

“Armed groups that derive revenue to fund war with gold will no longer be able to afford to mine or resell to buyers in international markets,” the Presidency added.

According to Biselele, all these agreements were aimed at establishing constructive diplomatic relations and turning the page on the tensions between the two countries that have lasted since 1996, the start of the first Congo war.

“We have wasted so many years watching without acting. We are only at the beginning, we will continue to expand our actions, “said President Tshisekedi.

President Kagame reiterated Rwanda’s commitment to restoration of peace, mainly in the Congolese province of North Kivu. “Rwanda undertakes to make efforts, in collaboration with the DRC, in respect of its sovereignty,” he said.

Despite all these agreements and interactions, Kinshasa refused to fix the M23 issue largely arising from the Banyamulenge factor. Kinshasa has looked at attacks on Kinyarwanda speaking congolese including beating to death of some.

The DRC troops attacked M23 bases and have since refused to settle their demands as contained in the Nairobi peace treaties. The rebels have since humiliated the Congolese army and seized large swathes of territory and demanded for respect of Nairobi treaties which Kinshasa says it will never speak to these terrorists and blames Rwanda.

President Kagame considers Kinshasa government’s problem as bad governance.

“There is a need to address this problem of kinyarwanda speaking congolese including the so called M23. That is the problem of the DRC to solve, not mine,” President Kagame said.

For President Kagame, “I wish for the best for both of us, DR Congo and Rwanda. But if the best doesn’t come, it should always find me prepared for the worst.”

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