"There are around 30,000 armed people in eastern Congo and it’s a major problem.
Some of them are from Burundi (FNL), others from Rwanda (Interahamwe and the FDLR),
Uganda (Nalu, the ADF and LRA). We also have some Sudanese rebels in the north.
The first step is to have them cleared from eastern Congo.
Security first and then development."
NKUNDA FIGHTING FOR PEACE
"There used to be around 600,000 cows in this area.
We had a gold mining industry in South Kivu, and sugar, and a national park.
But all that was destroyed in 1995 by the FDLR and Interahamwe.
The roads were destroyed. Then the schools were destroyed and teachers left the country.
Local businessmen were looted and killed on the roads."
Interview of General Laurent Nkunda
by Susan Schulman, Guardian, Apr 22, 2008
In the wake of the Goma Peace Agreement earlier this year, conflict has slowed between warring factions in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Laurent Nkunda, a former general in the Armed Forces of the DRC, is the leader of the CNDP, a Tutsi-aligned rebel faction that operates in the province of North Kivu. His troops have been accused of murder, rape and the abduction of children to serve as child soldiers. He denies all charges.
LAURENT NKUNDA WAS TALKING
to Susan Schulman in North Kivu
"I was born in 1967 in North Kivu, in the Rutshuru territory. I am a son of a local chief in Bunagana. I became a soldier in Rwanda, and in 1996 I marched into Congo with Laurent Kabila to overthrow the dictator Mobutu Sese Seko.
"I joined the Congolese Rally for Democracy, a political movement known as the RCD, which was aligned against Mobutu in Kinshasa. And later, in 2003, I was made a brigadier general in Congo's armed forces (FARDC).
"In 2004, 10 years after the Rwandan genocide, they started killing Banyamulenge [a predominantly Tutsi ethnic group] in the city of Bukavu so I went there to help stop the violence. I am now chairman of the CNDP [National Congress for the Defence of the People] and I live in the bush organising this revolution.
"Earlier this year we, the CNDP, signed the Acte d’Engagement [an agreement to form committees to discuss the problems in Congo]. We want security in the country and we are willing to fight for it.
"There has been a problem in Congo since 1994, when the Rwandan genocide pushed the Hutu perpetrators into eastern Congo. Since these killers, who make up the FDLR, Interahamwe and Ex-FAR, have been in eastern Congo the Tutsi people have fled to Rwanda.
"I was in Rwanda as a soldier at the time, and I saw Tutsi families flow in from Congo, escaping from marauding Hutu militia. Some of them were killed there. Since 1995 Tutsi families from Congo have been living in refugee camps in Rwanda, Uganda and Burundi. When I marched to Kinshasa with Kabila, who later became president, I was intending to establish peace in eastern Congo and allow Tutsi families back into the country.
"When Kabila became president and was installed in Kinshasa I helped him, but then he became allied with the FDLR. For me that was a betrayal. I cannot accept the Hutu forces after I saw how they killed the Tutsis in Rwanda.
"I cannot accept the FDLR in this country. When I saw the government in Kinshasa employing them as soldiers I couldn’t stand to be part of it. That’s why I joined the RCD in 1998. At least they were fighting for the same cause as me.
"But in 2003, when they went to South Africa to negotiate, I saw that they only wanted to share power and no problems were resolved. I said to the RCD leader at the time, Azarias Ruberwa, that if I saw no sign of the government resolving the security issues in eastern Congo I would not join him in Kinshasa. I said to him: "I am free to refuse to go to Kinshasa because I do not see a way forward. I would rather stay with my people while they suffer in refugee camps than go to Kinshasa in a good car to live in a big house with lots of money."
"Safety in eastern Congo is the main issue. Because of this lack of security we cannot develop, we cannot get the internally displaced people back. If we can establish peace I will be able to lay down my arms, and that will be it.
"We, the CNDP, have signed and accepted the Acte d’Engagement. But the only way for the government to resolve the problem of insecurity is to break its alliance with the FDLR, Interahamwe and Ex-FAR. Until now they have been using them as substitutes – they are even in the Republican Guard in Kinshasa. How can I join that government when it is using genocide killers who are against my own family, my own people? I cannot serve in a country where my family cannot live.
"It was a great step forward when we signed. For the first time in Congo people were talking about their future. It gave me such hope to see how the Congolese talked openly, and how the international community got involved. I accepted a ceasefire even though we were well equipped and in a good position.
"The FDLR are still a problem. They were not part of the agreement, and they see it as a threat. Until now they have been using Congolese militia to attack our position. (That is why you hear about Pareco, which is a fusion of the FDLR and the government.) They don’t want the agreement to go on. But we are pushing and doing our best to cool down the situation. And we will punish those who want to block the peace process.
"Pareco were part of the peace treaty and they even agreed to begin military operations against the FDLR. Which means they now have a problem as their bosses are the FDLR. The FDLR created them and until now have been giving them orders. And now they are ordering Pareco to violate the peace agreement. The real problem in Congo is that the FDLR perpetrates the violence and makes Pareco claim responsibility for it. I don’t know how we are going to resolve this.
"I have advised the UN peacekeeping mission, Monuc, to ask Pareco to lay down their arms and respect the agreement. But even so, until recently we have been fighting Pareco and the FDLR in the mountains near Zashi-Moheto.
"What I find encouraging is that the Kinshasa government respects the ceasefire. So do some of the Mai-Mai [assorted smaller militia groups]. The government has promised to stop supplying weapons to some of the more troublesome factions, and if that happens they won’t be able to do anything else.
"There are around 30,000 armed people in eastern Congo and it’s a major problem. Some of them are from Burundi (FNL), others from Rwanda (Interahamwe and the FDLR), Uganda (Nalu, the ADF and LRA). We also have some Sudanese rebels in the north. The first step is to have them cleared from eastern Congo. Security first and then development. It is a longterm plan – that’s why we say it should be for six years. If it works we’ll do it again, and in 12 years we’ll have a stable situation.
"Unfortunately, many Congolese will participate on the side of the negative forces. It comes down to understanding. Even if we have security, we still have the problem of education.
"There used to be around 600,000 cows in this area. We had a gold mining industry in South Kivu, and sugar, and a national park. But all that was destroyed in 1995 by the FDLR and Interahamwe. The roads were destroyed. Then the schools were destroyed and teachers left the country. Local businessmen were looted and killed on the roads.
"When I talk about "my people" I am talking about the Congolese – Hutus and Tutsis alike – they are my people, and they have the right to live in their country. My family is Tutsi and until 1995 they lived in Congo. I have lost cousins and sisters, and my brother lost his wife and two children to the FDLR. My family was one of the traditional chief families of Congo before the Belgians came in 1885. I’m known as that and I cannot be called Rwandan just because I am against the Hutu killers.
"When I say that the FDLR génocidaires cannot be allowed to stay in Congo armed, people say: "OK, he is talking about Rwandan politics because he is a Tutsi, a Rwandan, a friend of President Kagame." But if to denounce the genocide is to be Rwandan then I prefer to be called so. The genocide is the very worst thing I have seen in my life and I cannot fear to condemn it, even if it means I am mistaken for a Rwandan.
"Only if the government refuses to break with negative forces will we, the CNDP, once again pick up our arms. When they signed the Goma Peace Agreement they said that they would stop supporting the troublesome militia groups. Well, we want it to be done. If it isn’t, it’s our responsibility as soldiers to serve our country and to save our people. And we will do it.
"Eastern Congo is so different to Kinshasa. The politicians stay in Kinshasa and don’t come to see what is going on here.
"When you are really fighting for the people, you can feed on it. The first supporters I have are the population in my area. They are farmers and they support our troops. I can take care of my soldiers, as well as their families – they are all well fed. I put my troops through disciplined training, and they accept it like a mission of liberation.
"I have heard the accusations that we take young children out of school and turn them into soldiers. I called for Unicef to come and verify it – they came but they didn’t find anything. The army is not a joke – you cannot subject a soldier to hard work and high pressure if he is not convinced of your cause. I cannot give arms to someone who is my enemy and who has been forced to join me.
"The countries bordering Congo are not stable these days – Sudan, Central Africa, Chad, and now even Uganda. Rwanda is getting better but it still has poverty and the FDLR. And there is still the smell of genocide there.
"Congo is between east and west and north and south Africa. I see it as a bomb that can explode the whole continent. It is an uncontrolled country with resources like uranium that can be exploited without any restriction. My major fear is that we will end up like Somalia.
"Congo is not just a Congolese problem, it is a regional problem, an African problem, a worldwide problem – but it can be a worldwide solution if it is well managed. We need good leadership and better education. We need a national army capable of securing the whole of Congo and its borders. We need a development plan. There is still time to keep Congo strong and well equipped. And we are ready to help."
Fighting For Peace, Guardian, Apr 22, 2008 (http://www.guardian.co.uk/weekly?page=editorial&id=566&catID=1)
MUGABE & KABILA FIGHT NKUNDA
CHINA A 500-POUND GORILLA
GENOCIDAL HUTUS NEVER EXTRADITED
CONGO FORCES AGAINST NKUNDA
NKUNDA CASE FOR REBELLION
ZIMBABWE SPADE RED CHINA
'We have to kill Tutsis wherever they are'. Guardian, May 16, 2008
The roots of war in Eastern Congo. Guardian, May 16, 2008
CONGO CHINA REGIME CRONIES
CONGO RICHES CHINA NOW
NOT JUST RWANDANS FOR RWANDA
OH, CONGO REGIME CRONIES
NKUNDA SHOULD BE HERO
UN CONFLICTING CONGO
PRINCE OF PEACETIME PHOTOS
PEACE TALK NO ACTION
BISESERO HILL HAUNTS CONGO
RWANDA FRENCH TURQUOISE FILM
NEWS COVERING CONGO
WAR UN PEACE IN CONGO
KNOW NKUNDA CONGO
NKUNDA & MUSHAKI TOWN
UN HATE WEEK ON NKUNDA
ENIGMATIC LAURENT NKUNDA
SLEEPING ON LAVA IN RAIN
CONGO RICHES CHINA NOW
KAGAME STRATEGY OF PEACE
NKUNDA & INTORE HEROES
CONGO WOLVES ON NKUNDA
UN PEACEKEEPING NOT KEEPINGPEACE
RWANDA'S SILENT FRIENDS
CONGO WRONG ON NKUNDA
LUMUMBA-LIKE LAURENT NKUNDA
GOMA'S CAMP MAFIA HOTEL
GOMA'S LUMUMBA VOLCANO
CONGO IS LUMUMBA LAND
JFK CRIED FOR CONGO and JFK PEACE FOR ALL TIME
6.Disputed Territories and 2.Big Brother and 12.Ministry of Peace (War) and 11.Ministry of Plenty (Starvation)
~ an independent researcher monitoring local, national and international events ~