Rwanda: ‘Let us never negotiate out of fear But let us never fear to negotiate’
Recently Rwanda has come under much scrutiny by its neighbors who are asking President Kagame to negotiate with the FDLR.
(WASHINGTON DC) – Foreign Policy is a complex labyrinth of balancing local needs with international interests. This act requires awareness of one’s population, needs of the community, financial and peaceful stability as well as serving the interests of the greater good. These are all signs of a mature and aware politician. The key here is being able to look beyond the individual interest to the needs and to focus and serve the needs of the great good.
Recently, James Baker stated that, “America must be prepared to act unilaterally when necessary, but also appreciate the use of allies in foreign engagement.” This statement can be applied to government worldwide who are seeking to be a part of the greater global community in a positive and contributory way. These skills are not easily mastered nor are they universal. In place of America in Mr. Baker’s statement one could substitute any nation, including Rwanda. Recently Rwanda has come under much scrutiny by its neighbors who are asking President Kagame to negotiate with the FDLR. President Kikwete of Tanzania recently suggested that Rwanda negotiate with the FLDR and end the 19 year standoff. Kagame rebuffed this advice and instead asked for an apology from President Kikwete for such a recommendation. Now the SADC has also urged Rwanda to also engage in these peace talks as well. Mr. Ban Ki Moon, Security General of the UN, has also made a statement supporting President Kikwete in his call for negotiations.
With these powerful neighbors and world leaders who have stable countries and democratic processes one has to wonder why President Kagame won’t heed the advice of such nations.
The U.S. Department of State announced today that a new special representative to the Great Lakes Region has been appointed with the goal of finding a solution to lasting peace to a region that has been overly involved in war for nearly twenty years. It appears that since President Kagame will not engage in peace talks other nations have decided to intervene and urge him to do so.
In a press release published today, top opposition groups to the ruling regime in Rwanda have stated their support for the SADC statement. This press release is published in full below:
Date: 19 June 2013.
RWANDA : POLITICAL OPPOSITION COMMENDS SADC POSITION ON TALKS FOR LASTING PEACE IN THE GREAT LAKES REGION.
On 17 June 2013, the extraordinary summit of the Heads of State and Government of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) held in Maputo (Mozambique) urged Rwanda and Uganda to consider peace talks with the armed opposition for a lasting peace in the Great Lakes region. During the last African Union Summit, Tanzanian President Kikwete advised Rwanda to talk peace with its opposition.
On 2 June 2013, in Yokohama (Japan) during his meeting with H.E. Mr. Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete, The United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki Moon, commended his stand for comprehensive peace in the region, the deployment of Tanzanian forces for the International intervention brigade in Eastern DRC, and his advice for peace talks. He promised to deepen this issue of lasting solutions engaging all stakeholders during the September 2013 meeting in New York.
Earlier on 26 May 2013 in Addis Ababa, during the first meeting of the Regional Oversight Mechanism of the Peace, Security and Cooperation Framework Agreement for the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the region, the participants “agreed on the need of a comprehensive approach including to engage all stakeholders working towards the objective of the Peace, Security and Cooperation Framework for the DRC and the Great Lakes region”. They “agreed to meet again in September 2013 in New York, on the margins of the 69th UN General Assembly, to further discuss concrete steps and specific benchmarks for implementing the Peace, Security and Cooperation Framework.”
The undersigned, members of Rwandan opposition organisations, distance ourselves from arrogant words aired by President Paul Kagame against the President of Tanzania, H.E. Mr. Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete, on 10 June 2013, while officiating a graduation ceremony of senior military officers, at the Rwanda Defence Forces Staff and Command College. He said about President Kikwete’s advice: “I kept quiet for the contempt I have for it 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.”
The Rwandan political opposition, FDU-Inkingi, RNC, PSI-Imberakuri and Amahoro People’s Congress commend SADC recommendations for lasting peace in the DRC, Rwanda, Uganda, and the whole Great Lakes region. We, the undersigned, express our readiness to fully contribute to any peace efforts in the region and to take part in talks under the facilitation of SADC leaders and the international community.
Dr. Nkiko Nsengimana
Amahoro People’s Congress
Dr. Theogene Rudasingwa
Rwanda National Congress (RNC)
The decision will remain with President Kagame and his government as to whether or not he will begin discussion and negotiations with the FDLR. This is not an easy move for Mr. Kagame since he has maintained that he will not negotiate with them under any circumstances. The United States government has announced it will engage in bilateral talks with the Taliban after years of ongoing sever conflict. Mr. Kagame should take note of this move and reconsider his decision for the sake of peace in Eastern DRC.
Jennifer Fierberg is a social worker in the US working on peace and justice issues in Africa with an emphasis on the crisis in Rwanda and throughout the central region of Africa. Her articles have been published on many humanitarian sites that are also focused on changing the world through social, political and personal action.