Kagame says ‘primitive politics’ fueling DRC, Burundi, FDLR collaboration

By Wycliffe Nyamasege
On 26 March 2024 at 10:33

Rwandan President Paul Kagame has called out what he terms as primitive politics driving the new working relations between Congolese and Burundian politicians and their collaboration with the FDLR, a militia group that orchestrated the 1994 Genocide against Tusti in Rwanda.

Speaking during a recent interview with French newspaper Jeune Afrique, President Kagame said the ‘hate ideology’ poses a security threat to Rwanda and its people.

He faulted Burundian President Évariste Ndayishimiye over the involvement of the Burundian troops in the ongoing DR Congo-M23 war, saying he had warned the Head of State against the deployment of the soldiers to fight alongside FDLR militia.

Kagame went on to accuse Ndayishimiye of lying to him regarding the secret operation.

“I called, by phone, and I asked to talk to President Ndayishimiye and I did and I asked him, President, I have heard that you are sending a force, another force other than that one in the East African Community Regional Force to fight on behalf of the government of Kinshasa. I said, that is in contradiction with why the East African Regional force was formed, that you are participating in,” he revealed.

“So, you’re going to participate in something else. And I told him, ‘This is dangerous and you understand the implication. You are actually threatening us with your presence in support of the FDLR near our border,’” Kagame added.

He disclosed that the Burundian Head of State had sworn to him that the intelligence he had was wrong and that there were no plans to deploy Burundian troops to the troubled eastern region.

“I said, I’m happy to be wrong. If I’m wrong we’re good. I’m really happy to hear that,” Kagame said.

“But two weeks after, they were in Goma – or even less than two weeks. So, you can see he even told me lies.”

President Kagame blamed ethnic primitive politics for the collaboration.

“I think of primitivity. We still have politics going on based on ethnic [affiliation] and this is exactly what brings together Tshisekedi, Ndayishimiye and the FDLR,” Kagame added.

At the same time, President Kagame said the conditions set by Tshisekedi were a stumbling block to peaceful resolution of ongoing instability in the Eastern DRC.

President Tshisekedi had earlier demanded the withdrawal of Rwandan troops from Congolese territory as a precondition for meeting Kagame for discussions over the conflict.

He also said he was ready to meet Kagame on the condition of the precontaining of the M23 militia, which DRC accuses Rwanda of backing.

Reacting to the conditions, Kagame accused President Tshisekedi of manipulation and playing to the gallery of ‘external forces’.

“Tshisekedi has been able to manipulate individual leaders, countries and is now almost bringing a misunderstanding between and among regions. Because he was playing SADC (Southern African Development Community) against East Africa,” Kagame stated.

“Why don’t we therefore find a way of talking about it and not allowing Tshisekedi to dictate the terms of what must happen because we know he is wrong.”

Kagame said he could also declare his conditions but maintained that he won’t for the sake of finding a lasting solution to the conflict.

“I could also start by giving conditions, but it’s the wrong way to go about it,” he noted, adding, “I could also say that unless the FDRL is removed from Congo, I am not going to talk to President Tshisekedi. However, this does not serve the purpose of bringing peace.”

The Rwandan Head of State further noted that President Tshisekedi’s threats to invade Rwanda should not be taken lightly.

"I think he has the capacity to understand what he is saying as the leader of the country. That’s a serious problem I need to prepare for and take care of… This means that one night he could wake up and do something that you never thought normal people would do," he said in response to a question about whether he was concerned about Tshisekedi’s remarks during the campaign period last year, suggesting he could break off cautious diplomacy with Rwanda and declare war if re-elected.

Rwandan President Paul Kagame has called out what he terms as primitive politics driving the new working relations between Congolese and Burundian politicians and their collaboration with the FDLR.