EDITORIAL: Occupation, resistance, and hope
1. THE REINTEGRATION OF 450 OF BOSCO NTAGANDA’S SOLDIERS INTO SULTANI MAKENGA’S M23
2. THE M23 AND THE NEXT DEPLOYMENT OF THE NEW MONUSCO BRIGADE
3. THE KAMPALA NEGOTIATIONS
4. DR CONGO IS REFUSING TO SIGN AN AGREEMENT ON THE STATUS OF RWANDAN REFUGEES
EDITORIAL: OCCUPATION, RESISTANCE, AND HOPE
The eastern partof the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DR Congo), especially the province of North Kivu, increasingly resembles a conquered and occupied country.
Kivu: A Rwandan province?
During a meeting organized by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) on April 18 in Pretoria, Rwanda requested the implementation of the Refugee Status Cessation for Rwandan refugees remaining abroad. This cessation clause, built into the 1951 Geneva Convention on the status of refugees, provides for refugee status to end once fundamental and durable changes have taken place in the country of origin, removing the circumstances that originally led the refugees to flee.
Ms. Séraphine Mukantabana, Rwandan Minister of Disaster Management and Refugee Affairs, attempted to show that Rwanda is a completely peaceful country, ranking among the top African states according to the Human Development Index. As a result, none of its citizens still residing abroad have a valid reason to continue benefitting from refugee status.
There was a quick response – participants asked one another about the real conditions that repatriated populations in Rwanda are facing. And they couldn’t help but wonder: If Rwanda is heaven and its refugees are living in hell, why don’t they want to leave their hell and go back to heaven?
Implementing the refugee status cessation clause would have two consequences: the intensification of repatriation for some and the local integration of others, which would enable them to obtain an alternative status in their country of asylum, such as citizenship through naturalization.
According to Governor Julien Paluku of North Kivu, “If we agree to this cessation clause, Rwanda could stop considering Rwandan refugees who still remain on Congolese territory as citizens at any moment. Rwanda could then say that there were no longer any Rwandan refugees in DR Congo and that any who still remained would be globally considered as Congolese citizens.”
In this way, Rwanda could resolve problems stemming from its high demographic density by pushing the surplus of its population into Kivu and transforming it into a colony of sorts. However, Kivu territory would experience a growth in its Rwandan population. Because these Rwandans are closely connected to their country of origin, they could continue destabilizingthe region by taking over, often illegally, the indigenous peoples’ lands and forcing them to abandon their own property.
From a Congolese point of view, the best solution would be for the refugees to voluntarily return to their country of origin in a way that respects dignity and human rights. Those who would prefer to permanently stay in the Congo should do everything possible in working to integrate into local society by respecting the language, culture, and laws and by contributing to the well-being of all the Congolese people, of whom they will have become effective members. Ifpotential conflicts are to be avoided, it must be pointed out that Congolese nationality cannot be automatically granted to a collective group, but must always be requested individually, according to federal legislation.
Kivu: A conquered and occupied land
The March 23Movement (M23), an armed group backed militarily and logistically by two neighboring countries, Rwanda and Uganda, presented a peace proposal to the Congolese government, in which they asked for the following:
- Congolese governmental recognition of all political and administrative measures taken in the bodies under its administration
- Commitment by the government to declare Eastern regions of the DR Congo (i.e., North Kivu, South Kivu, Ituri, Haut-Uele, Maniema, and Tanganyika) as “disaster zones” due to the recurring wars that destroyed the infrastructure and socioeconomic structures. As such, the area declared as a disaster zone will benefit from a distinctive administrative status, a special development plan, large fiscal and financial autonomy, and itsown operational security plan.
- Housing of their troops, the Revolutionary Army of the Congo (ARC), for carrying out joint operations with the DR Congo government so that they can help with peacekeeping and stabilization operations in the eastern part of the country. These operations would take place over a renewable period of five years and would aim to definitively eradicate all negative foreign forces operating on Congolese territory (the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda [FDLR], the Lord’s Resistance Army [LRA], the Allied Democratic Forces-National Army for the Liberation of Uganda [ADF-NALU], the National Liberation Front [FNL], etc.).
These propositions clearly reveal the real intentions of the M23: keepingthe eastern regions of the country through political and military occupation by consolidating its administration and its army. But that’s not all: The M23 is also asking the DR Congoto integrate its senior political authorities into the leadership of its national institutions: The central government, diplomacy, chancelleries, provincial governments, public companies, chiefs of staff, etc.
As with previous rebellions backed by Rwanda (theAlliance of Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Congo [AFDL], the Rally for Congolese Democracy [RCD], and the National Congress for the Defense of the People [CNDP]), the M23 is likewise adopting an “infiltration” strategy at the highest levels of the nation by violating the constitution and thus endangering national sovereignty and territorial integration.
The M23 is taking sarcasm to the extreme by claiming amnesty for its members in spite of the serious crimes they have committed against civilians (e.g., massacres, rapes, thefts, etc.).
The M23 has lost all credibility by affirming that it will no longer resort to arms and by saying it wants to transform into a political party, all the while reserving the right to change its name. The M23 was born out of the CNDP, which declared the same thing on March 23, 2009, without ever actually keeping any of its promises. No one can believe anything about the M23 any more, even if it speaks of national reconciliation, human rights, democratic elections, free primary education, justice, or peace. By nature, these words are sacred, but when spoken by the M23, they unrelentinglyincriminate it until it has to beg to be “punishedfor actions, words, attitudes, and expressions, regardless of their form, conveyed by xenophobic, racist, tribalist, and discriminatory thoughts.”
Kivu: Resistance and hope
Even though the M23 still seems strongconsidering its exterior support and internal complicity, it has already been judged and condemned by history and by the Congolese people. The arrest of Bosco Ntaganda, Ntaganda’s transfer to the International Criminal Court, and the addition of Sultani Makenga’s and other M23 members’ name to the UN’s list of sanctioned individuals are early signs of the beginning of the M23’s end, and that is giving the Congolese people the courage to resist and the strength to hope.
1. THE REINTEGRATION OF 450 OF BOSCO NTAGANDA’S SOLDIERS INTO SULTANI MAKENGA’S M23
On April 17, theM23 faction led by Sultani Makenga announced the reintegration of approximately 450 soldiers from the closely-related faction led by Bosco Ntaganda. Makengahad defeated Ntaganda’s faction back in March, and Ntaganda had fled to Rwanda. “We have custody of 150 men who surrendered and around 300 who were captured in the area of Kibumba [at the border with Rwanda]. We have reintegrated them into our troops,” stated Vianney Kazarama, military spokesperson of Makenga’s faction.
“Around 500 members (of the M23 who had fled to Rwanda) came back to DR Congo on April 3, and there was a reconciliation ceremony,” explained the International Crisis Group (ICG) Project Director for Central Africa, Thierry Vircoulon. The reintegration of 450 soldiers indicates an increased M23 threat against the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the DR Congo (MONUSCO)Intervention Brigade.
The sudden and all-but-official return of the 450 soldiers from the Bosco Ntaganda faction has mystified the Congolese political establishment. “These soldiers were supposed to be unarmed and confined in Rwanda, more than 60 miles from our border. How were they able to cross back over the border without attracting the attention of the public security organizations (the Army, the police, or intelligence) who would have sounded an alarm? Where did they find the new weapons that they brought back to Bunagana?” asked a deputy of the Presidential majority at Kinshasa, under the cover of anonymity. “Once again, I have to wonder about the role played by Rwanda. Why didn’t they notify us that these soldiers, who were under their watch, had escaped? Why didn’t they inform Congolese leaders of [the soldiers’] disappearance? Not to mention the leaders of the eleven other countries who, like Rwanda, signed the Addis-Ababa Agreement forbidding these countries from supporting active armed groups in eastern DR Congo, including the M23!” According to the Congolese deputy, “this return conceals many things that the Congolese government and MONUSCO need to keep a watch out for” – above all, the fact that the reintegration of these 450 soldiers took place at the same time as an increased M23 threat against the MONUSCO Intervention Brigade, who was deployed by the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) to fight against the active armed groups in eastern DR Congo.
In a press release on April 18, the M23 denied reintegrating 450 dissident soldiers from the faction that sought refuge in Rwanda after the rift last March. An Agence France-Presse (AFP) dispatch reported this reintegration, quoting Vianney Kazarama, the MP23 military spokesperson, and Thierry Vircoulon, the ICG Project Director for Central Africa. But according to the M23, their spokesperson’s words were “deliberately taken out of their original context.” The press release indicated that “more than 450 soldiers who fought alongside Bosco Ntaganda, Baudouin Ngaruye, and Jean-Marie Runiga surrendered and were, in actual fact, captured.” However, it clarified that “the events occurred during clashes with the group from, 1st – 15th March2013, therefore, the disorderly group could not have come back from Rwanda since they did not flee to Rwanda until 16th March 2013.”The rebels also deny the “reconciliation ceremony” referred to by the AFP’s Thierry Vircoulon, specifying that “those who came back were redeployed in their original units, and those who were captured were put into custody.”
2. THE M23 AND THE NEXT DEPLOYMENT OF THE NEW MONUSCO BRIGADE
On 12thApril, the military spokesperson of the M23, Vianney Kazarama, stated that the M23 has determined that it has the “right to defend itself and retaliate” if the future MONUSCO Intervention Brigade attacks it. “All of the displaced populations and disasters that will result from the deployment of the Brigade will be the responsibility of the government of Kinshasa and the UN Security Council,” he stated.
On 15thApril, Rwanda’s Foreign Minister Louise Mushikiwabo stated that the Intervention Brigade deployed by UN in eastern DR Congo might play a “deterrent” role, but the political process isfundamental. “We do not think that military action is the solution to the problems in eastern DR Congo.We do not consider the Brigade to be a deterrent mechanism; it is a necessary presence that must include other elements, especially the political aspects of the conflict,” explained Mushikiwabo to the press after presiding over a UN Security Council meeting dedicated to preventing conflicts in Africa.
During a weekly United Nations conference on 17thApril, MONUSCO’s military spokesperson Lieutenant Colonel Prosper Félix Basse stated, “I am not saying that we are insensitive to the threats issued [by the M23], but [they] do not change the dynamics of deploying the Intervention Brigade in DR Congo.”He also indicated that the rebels are still unsuccessful in trying to win over the civilians in the territories they occupy to their cause.
The previous day, General Babacar Gaye, UN Military Adviser for Peacekeeping Operations, had confirmed that “the deployment of the MONUSCO Intervention Brigade is imminent,” though he did not specify a date. “The Brigade will be headquartered in Goma. The battalions will also be centered around Gomain case they need to carry outcoercive operations. The battalions will generally be in the proximity of Goma and from there, they will be deployed for different operations,” indicated Gaye.
On 25thApril, the Civil Society of North Kivu Vice President Omar Kavota accused the M23 of redeploying a few days prior in several villages, towns, and cities in Rutshuru Territory and Beni Territory in North Kivu. He also called for a speedy deployment of the United Nations Intervention Brigade in order to avoid any unpleasant surprises from the M23.
According to the UN, the establishment of the special Intervention Brigade in eastern DR Congo will be “imminent.” Of the 3,000 men anticipated in North and South Kivu, around 800 are reportedly already in place, and the commander, Tanzanian James Mwakibolwa, has been in the city of Goma since April 23. The UN has announced that other contingents will be coming from Malawi and Tanzania “from now until the month of July.”
The Congolese people have high expectations regarding the UN Intervention Brigade’s success – perhaps even too much. According to the government’s spokesperson, the deployment of these “super peacekeepers” simply has to “put an end to the war in the East.”
If the opposition party is welcoming the arrival of the special brigade with a sigh of relief, it nonetheless sees some obstacles to its success. “It’s a solution, of course, but a short-term one,” believes Juvénal Munubo Mubi, Deputy of the Union for a Congolese Nation (UNC). Although the UN brigade may well “instill fear in the armed groups, (…) the long-term solution is to completely reform the security sector, or, in other words, to rebuild the national army,” confirmed the Deputy for the movement led by Vital Kamerhe. And the task is enormous. Poorly paid, utterly disorganized, and transformed into a phantom army, the Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (FARDC) are only a shadow of its former self.
The skepticism is stronger among international experts. For Thierry Vircoulon, the ICG Project Director for Central Africa, the Brigade’s mandate is “far too broad.” According to the researcher, “The UN’s intended mandate for this Brigade involves all of the armed groups,which will not be possible given their large number.” He believes the UN will need to “prioritize its operations.” It will also need to ask: “Whether the Brigade’s first target will be the M23 or the FDLR?”
Likewise, Vircoulon is questioning the efficacy of an intervention brigade of this type on the ground against well-organized troops who are familiar with the area, like the M23, or against unstructured groups like the Mai-Mai or the FDLR, who have adopted a guerilla strategy.
The researcher has indicated another risk: the all-too familiar scenario of “double agent rebels who have been reintegrated into the regular army. … By putting pressure on armed groups, some of them will be strongly tempted to give up their weapons and ask to be quickly reintegrated into the Army,” without any identification or trainingprocesses, thus paving the way for future desertions.
The final risk indicated by the ICG official is “the collateral damage on civilian populations.” A former military expert familiar with the situation in the DR Congo has confirmed the risk of shifting from a “cold,” “low-intensity” war to a “hotter” and thus deadlier war than the current conflict in the Kivus. “Civilians would be the first victims of renewed, more violent, fighting,” concluded the expert.
Finally, the M23 has portrayed the arrival of the Intervention Brigade as “a declaration of war by the UN” and has announced, “We are convinced that the military confrontation runs the risk of starting a regional conflict” and dragging “Uganda, Rwanda, Tanzania, and South Africa into a pointless war.”
According to several observers, the permanent solution is thereforediplomatic and must take place partly in Kinshasa, a city which must change its governing methods in order to finally establish its authority, and in Kigali, a city accused of supporting M23 rebels but that is nevertheless able to put a stop to the game in the Kivus.
The M23 warmongering strategy
Generally, the M23 (created in June 2012) has relied solely on a warmongering strategy to validate its claims. The strategy was first used by the ADFL (1996), which gave birth respectively to the RCD/Goma (1998), the CNDP with Colonel Mutebusi in 2004 in Bukavu (South Kivu) and with General Lauren Nkunda in North Kivu starting in late 2006. Consequently, each time it feels threatened or in danger, it chooses the military option as a means of implementing its policies and consolidating its politico-military and financial foundation in eastern DR Congo. It is a strategy laid down by its Rwandan predecessors.
It just takes remembering the 15th November, 1996, UN Security Council vote on Resolution 1080, which authorized the installation of a temporary multinational force consisting of some 12,000 men under Canadian command in order to guarantee the protection of refugees in eastern Zaire and avoid the polarizing tension of an attack on Hutu refugees by the Rwandan Patriotic Front (FPR). Rwanda, fearing that this would disrupt its plans to attack the Congo, beat everyone to the punch by implementing a plan to prevent the intervention of UN forces. On the same day as the vote on this resolution, the Rwandan Patriotic Army (APR) and the AFDL launched intense bombings against the immense refugee camp in Magunga – the nucleus of the military capacity of the former Rwandan Armed Forces (FAR) and Interhamwe – in order to short-circuit the UN’s plan. This intervention undermined the implementation of Resolution 1080 by giving the UN no choice in the matter and rendering it incapable of sending peacekeeping forces. That was the decisive phase of the 1996-1997 war in the Congo.
So, by analogy (this is just a hypothesis and not a conviction), it is not impossible to imagine that the M23 will use the same operating strategy whenever it feels threatened or receives confirmation that MONUSCO’s Intervention Brigade is coming to eradicate it. Then, it will have no choice but to heighten its military strength, possibly by occupying the city of Goma (capital of North Kivu), to significantly raise the stakes, requiring the Brigade to be deployedor to change its mission. It would cease to be an international brigade with a mission of neutralizing or tracking the negatively portrayed M23, but a mission of attacking other groups and putting itself between the M23 and the rest of the FARDC and other groups. This is a plausible hypothesis given that the negotiations between the Congolese government and the M23 rebellion in Kampala (Uganda) tend to accomplish very little or end in an impasse. Now, in the Rwandan strategy of “Fighting and Talking” (also adopted by the M23), weapons are taken up when negotiations fail in order to keep things moving by other means.
Indeed, another deceitful alliance between Kinshasa and the M23 is not out of the question, like in March 2009 with the CNDP. This hypothesis should not be dismissed, given the proximity of the M23 with the CNDP, which still remains a political ally of Kinshasa (until proven otherwise). By this logic, the M23 strategy would consist of airing its dirty laundry in public, rather than through a UN intervention, reaching an agreement with the government, which would render the present of an international brigade obsolete, or at least less appropriate.
On the other hand, the presence of the Intervention Brigade will not fail to have a deterrent effect, which will likely temporarily reduce the intensity of the violence. It will also push the armed militias toward regions that are not in the Intervention Brigade’s scope of action, like in 2003 with Operation Artemis in Bunya. But in the long term, the militias will be able to regroup and reoccupy their territory if nothing is done on the national level, such as “properly training and equipping the FARDC who are not the target of the embargo”. In fact, the arms embargo in the DR Congo only concerns the armed groups to whom the general officers of the FARDC –according to expert UN reports – sell weapons and ammunition to the FARDC.
The scary part is whether Rwanda and Uganda, the primary supporters of the M23, will join the party. The potential for complication applies as much for the UN as for the DR Congo. The question that remains unanswered is whether Rwanda will follow its reasoning to its logical conclusion and support the M23 in a fight against the UN brigade.
In its day, China faced off with United Nations troops during the Korean War of the 1950s, even though it was a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council. An analyst on the website agoravox.fr is suggests a frightening scenario for the DR Congo. He states it in these terms: “The defeat that followed [the intervention of Chinese troops] required forces under UN mandate to be “stationed” at the 38th parallel, later to become the border between the two Koreas, which solidified the partition of the country.” He continues: “A comparable scenario in the Congo cannot be excluded. If the M23, reinforced by Rwandan troops, manage to defeat the UN brigade, the Balkanization of the Congo will become reality. Indeed, Joseph Kabila’s Congo lacks the military capacity to reclaim land that has fallen into the hands of Rwandan combatants, and much less so if the land is taken out of the hands of UN forces.” Will the international community, which has not yet taken in the humiliation of the fall of Goma, allow this to happen?
3. THE KAMPALA NEGOTIATIONS
On 16thApril, the Ugandan Minister of Defense and facilitator of negotiations between the M23 and the Congolese government, Crispus Kiyonga, were supposed to put forward a report leading to a proposed agreement to be signed by both parties, but nothing happened. The hesitation illustrates the difficulty of finding common ground between Kinshasa and the M23. The two main players created their own proposals. They are in direct opposition to one another. The government is proposing an immediate dissolution of the M23. The M23, on the other hand, wants to keep control of its occupied territories for five more years sothey can focus on fighting on other armed groups. That’s how the M23 intends to do the work entrusted to the UN’s special Intervention Brigade.
The M23’s proposed an agreement proposal in 25 articles to the Congolese government.
The M23 is asking the Congolese government for:
- Creation of a special organization in charge of national reconciliation.
- Tax withholding of 40% of public treasury revenue and the creation of 25 provinces plus the city of Kinshasa as part of the decentralization process.
- Organization of provincial, urban, municipal, and local elections without delay throughout the Republic.
- Parliamentary ratification of the Security, Stability, and Development in the Great Lakes Region Pact signed in Nairobi on December 15, 2006, and of the Framework Agreement for Peace, Security, and Cooperation for the DR Congo and the Great Lakes Region signed in Addis-Ababa on February 24, 2013.
- Reinforcement of regional cooperation and economic integration through the country’s adherence to the East African Community.
- Free primary instruction in order to facilitate access to education for all.
- Division of the current Supreme Court into three branches: The Constitutional Court, the Appeals Court, and the Council of State in order to reinforce the Congolese judicial system and guarantee the independence of the judiciary.
- Declaration of the law creating a National Commission for Human Rights passed by the National Assembly with the aim of promoting freedom and fundamental rights.
This could be an ideal proposal for a good government, but in reality, it is simply the M23’s strategy for attaining its true objectives.
In its favor, the M23 is demanding:
- Promotion of an amnesty law for acts of war and insurrection covering the period from May 7, 2009, until the end of the implementation of the Accord.
- Integration and participation of the M23’s senior political authoritiesinto national administration: the central government, diplomacy, chancelleries, public companies, provincial governments, chiefs of staff, etc.
- Formal recognition of the M23’s military and police ranks on the basis of a battle order presented by the M23.
- Recognition of all political and administrative acts conferred on all entities under the M23’s administration.
- Punishment of actions, words, attitudes, and expressions, regardless of the form they take, that result from xenophobic, racist, tribalist, or discriminatory thoughts.
The M23 is agreeing to:
- Transform itself into a political party. Nevertheless, it reserves the right to change names.
- Carry out combined operations with the DR Congo government in order to participate in peacekeeping and stabilization operations in the eastern part of the country. These operations would take place over a renewable period of five years and will aim to definitively eradicate all negative foreign forces operating on Congolese territory (FDLR, LRA, ADF-NALU, FNL, etc.). As such, joint forces (FARDC-ARC) will be created and organized in order to carry out these operations.
- Definitively lay down its arms and demobilize the members of the ARC unwilling to integrate with the FARDC as soon as eastern regions of the DR Congo are secured and clear out all negative foreign forces and all national armed groups.
- Resettle and reintegrate the internally displaced populations as well as the returned refugees back into their places of origin
- Never again resort to arms in order to make the demands of the Congolese population heard.
The specialists who analyzed this document argue that the M23 has reinforced its position in favor of breaking up the country in Article 5 of its plan.The article stipulates that, due to the recurring wars that destroyed the infrastructure and socio-economic structures, the Government decree the eastern part of DR Congo (North Kivu, South Kivu, Ituri, Haut-Uele, Maniema, and Tanganyika) as “Disaster Zones”.As such, the disaster zone will have to benefit from a special administrative status, a special development plan, a large fiscal and financial autonomy, its own operational security plan, and from a specific security plan for fulfilling the different regional accords, particularly the Nairobi Agreement and the Addis Ababa Framework Agreement. The return of refugees and internally displaced populations into this “Disaster Zone” will occur jointly and according to a timeline established by the parties who signed the present Accord.
On 25thApril, the M23 pulled out the delegation it had sent to the Kampala negotiations. However, the M23 representatives have left the door open to a potential renewal of negotiations.
A dozen leaders of the movement have returned to Bunagana, the border city between DR Congo and Uganda that is serving as the M23’s political capital. The most important thing to the M23 is to reach an agreement within the movement between those who want to confront the United Nations Intervention Brigade, which is setting up in Goma, and those who are still looking for ways to avoid this confrontation. One of the solutions would specifically be an agreement at Kampala. That’s why the M23 is not talking about breaking off negotiations, but simply of their delegation “leaving”. As proof, only two people will remain in the Ugandan capital as observers.
4. THE DR CONGO IS REFUSING TO SIGN AN AGREEMENT ON THE STATUE OF RWANDAN REFUGEES
On April 18, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) organized a ministerial meeting in Pretoria on the global strategy on long-term solutions for Rwandan refugees. Twelve countries who took in Rwandan refugees from 1959 until December 31, 1998, were represented by their Ministers of the Interior or their delegates. The countries present were Burundi, the DR Congo, the Republic of the Congo, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Rwanda, South Africa, Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.
The main issue discussed during the meeting involved asking asylum countries of Rwandan refugees to adhere to the cessation clause on the Rwandan refugees’ status.
As a reminder, cessation clauses were built into the 1951 Geneva Convention on the status of refugees and into the convention of the Organization of African Unity on refugees. These conventions provide for refugee status to end once fundamental and durable changes have taken place in the country of origin and the circumstances that led to flight no longer exist.
During the first ministerial meeting held in Geneva on December 9, 2011, these states were strongly advised to implement these clauses before June 30, 2013.
According to the HCR, the governments “unanimously reaffirmed their commitment to resolve the prolonged Rwandan refugee situation, primarily by intensifying efforts to promote repatriation,” which, until now, has been very limited. They also agreed to pursue local integration, particularly “by making it easier for the refugees to obtain alternative statuses in their countries of asylum, like citizenship through naturalization.”
Certain states indicated that they would be able to apply the cessation clauses by the end of June 2013. Others, on the other hand, pointed out that, for various reasons, “they are not in a position to do so or they cannot do so.”
Minister Mukantabana maintained that the Rwandan government is ready to grant national passports to Rwandans who choose to stay in their current country of refuge and that it will respect the wishes of those who would like to obtain nationality in their country of asylum. She went on to say that if the refugee status cessation clause is invoked by June 30, 2013, Rwanda will assume that there are no more refugees outside of the country from that time on.
For its part, the Congolese government refused to sign the agreement on the cessation clause on the status of Rwandan refugees living in its borders.
According to the governor of North Kivu Julien Paluku, “If we agree to this cessation clause, Rwanda could stop considering the Rwandan refugees still on Congolese territory as citizens at any moment. Rwanda could then say that there were no longer any Rwandan refugees in DR Congo and that any who still remained would be universally considered as Congolese people, even though Congolese nationality cannot be acquired collectively.”
The DR Congo consequently voted against the international trend in order to avoid the presence of stateless people or people that would be considered to have acquired de facto Congolese nationality within its borders.
Consequently, the Minister of the Interior Richard Muyej proposed three stages for coming to an agreement, namely:
- Quickly organize a tripartite meeting between the DR Congo, Rwanda, and the HCR in order to evaluate and effectively implement the tripartite agreement signed in Kigali on February 17, 2010, and its practical logistics, signed in Goma on July 30, 2010
- Proceed to register all Rwandan refugees living in the DR Congo with the international community’s support
- Nullify the cessation clause after the implementation of the tripartite agreement and its practical logistics in order to permit all the refugees to safely return with dignity to their country of origin
For the Congolese Minister of the Interior, there is still a large presence of refugees on Congolese land. Provisory statistics from the Congolese government show that there are 67 Rwandan refugees in Kinshasa, 598 in Katanga, 1584 in East Kasai, 287 in Equator, 106,013 in North Kivu, and 18,988 Rwandan refugees in South Kivu, for a total of 127,537 Rwandan refugees still present in the DR Congo. According to the HCR, there are only 49,181 Rwandan refugees in the DR Congo.It should be noted that the HCR generally only keeps records of those who are recorded in the lists in refugee camps, but there are many others who have integrated into the native population. For its part, the HCR says it repatriated 7,900 Rwandan refugees in 2012 and more than 1,000 since January 2013.
Radio Okapi, April 17, 2013
Le Potentiel – Kinshasa, April 18, 2013
Radio Okapi, April 19, 2013
Radio Okapi, April 12, 2013
Radio Okapi, April 16, 2013
Radio Okapi, April 17, 2013
Radio Okapi, April 25, 2013
Cf Christophe Rigaud – Afrikarabia, 29.04.’13
 National Congress for the Defense of the People (Congrès national pour la défense du peuple)
 Forces armées de la République démocratique du Congo / Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo
Cf Jean-Jacques Wondo – Le Potentiel – Kinshasa, 16.04.’13 http://www.lepotentielonline.com/110-online-depeches/7034-le-m23-n-a-d-autre-recours-que-la-strategie-belliciste
CfLe Potentiel – Kinshasa, 18.04.’13
 The Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (Forces démocratiques de libération du Rwanda)
 The Lord’s Resistance Army (Armée de résistance du Seigneur)
 The Allied Democratic Forces-National Army for the Liberation of Uganda (Forces démocratiques alliées-Armée nationale de libération de l’Ouganda)
The National Liberation Front (Front de libération nationale)
 Forces armées de la République démocratique du Congo / Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo
 Alliance for the Revival of the Congo (Alliance pour le Renouveau du Congo)
CfWilly Kilapi – L’Observateur – Kinshasa, 22.04.’13 (via mediacongo.net):
Cf RFI, 25.04.’13
CfStanislasNtambwe – Le Potentiel – Kinshasa, 24.04.’13;Le Phare – Kinshasa, 22.04.’13; Radio Okapi, 22.04.’13
The translator Lisa Witmer and the proof-reader Nadiyah Abdullatif have carried out this English translation within the PerMondo initiative and we are very grateful for their help. PerMondo supports NGOs with free translations. Initiative created by Mondo Agit translation agency.