Kagame talks about DRC security matters, Rwandan peacekeepers mandate and relations with Uganda

On 4 February 2021 at 06:24

President Paul Kagame has hinted on the current state of security matters in the Eastern DRC, Rwanda’s relations with Uganda and shed light on main duties of Rwandan troops serving under United Nations peacekeeping missions in many parts of the world. He highlighted that Rwandan peacekeepers work professionally in peace restoration efforts and share expertise from Rwanda’s tragic history on how to resolve conflicts.

Kagame made the revelation yesterday during discussions with Herbert Raymond McMaster, a retired United States Army Lieutenant General who served as the 26th United States National Security Advisor from 2017 to 2018.

McMaster is the author of ‘Battlegrounds’, a book which is a valuable memoir of that period. It also contains his recommendations for the future.

Battlegrounds provides a fascinating tour of current US foreign policy challenges, region by region, beginning with Russia and China, followed by South Asia, the Middle East, Iran and North Korea.

The conversation was the 8th of its kind with Kagame and was centered on "Rwanda AndThe African Union: The Promise Of Increased U.S.-Africa Engagement."

McMaster’s conversations termed as ‘Battlegrounds’ invites leaders from different countries to share ideas on challenges and opportunities based on US foreign policy.

President Kagame was asked questions on various topics including Rwanda’s relations with foreign countries, security matters in the region, Rwanda’s relations with Uganda among others including peacekeeping missions to which Rwanda contributes.

When asked about security matters in the Eastern DRC and the region, Kagame said that the situation has deteriorated for many years.

“For the Eastern Congo, the situation is not getting worse as such. The situation has been there for decades. The solutions have been touch and go. And then, one moment things are calm but clearly problems have not been addressed,” he said.

“In other words, they happen in a sort of way that it is periodically. Then it comes three years, then another three years is blur, instability is along the Eastern Congo side, and then another three years, it heightens and keeps going and coming. I think, we need a long term solution,” added Kagame.

President Kagame also highlighted that the current Government in DRC under President, DRC President Félix Tshisekedi who is becoming the African Union Chairperson this year ‘has been helpful in terms of being available, responsive and wanting to work with the neighbors so that this problem is addressed’.

“I think that is absolutely necessary and we think we can get better results than what we have had in the past," he said.

President Kagame stressed that security problems in Eastern DRC have to be looked at in the general context of the country itself and seek how it can come together and get assisted by neighbors and others beyond to address these problems.

He also commented on relations between Rwanda and Uganda that have worsened for quite sometimes and expressed optimism that ongoing discussions will finally come out with a solution.

“The problem between Rwanda and Uganda has been there for quite some time. Only what we had this time to resolve the matter is that we brought to suffix and started discussing it publicly and openly,” he said.

“Otherwise, things were happening without necessarily people knowing what the matter is. But with Angola, DRC, Uganda and ourselves Rwanda, we sat and brought out these issues that have been affecting our relationship. And in that arrangement, we have had a series of discussions to address what we brought out as the root causes. We hope that may deliver good results at some point but the problems have been there for a long time,” highlighted Kagame.

Currently, Rwanda has troops, both the military and police serving under the United Nations peacekeeping mission in CAR and Darfur in Sudan mission which ended towards the end of last year.

Rwanda also contributed to peacekeeping missions in South Sudan and Haiti in the past.

President Kagame has explained that Rwandan troops serving under these missions are not told what to but rather work professionally and bring expertise from Rwanda’s tragic history and share experience on how to resolve conflicts.

“As we serve under the UN, we are not just peacekeepers being told do this, don’t do that. We also bring a bit of experience from our own country during the tragic days where we can share with people how to resolve some of the causes of the conflict as their exist. We make an effort to try understanding them in those countries where we serve and also use availability under the UN to tell them stories about our own situation and how possibly they could benefit from addressing their problems in certain ways,” he stressed.

“Whether it was in Darfur in Sudan or South Sudan, we work with communities, citizens, and even Governments through UN. We tell the UN, if we could do things like this as UN contingent or force in any part of the world, we could help to bring peace, not just sit and wait until peace happens and then we keep it. That is why some forces have stayed for too long, in one place. They are waiting to keep peace that never actually happens. That is what we bring in that contribution,” added Kagame.

The President also said that Ethiopia conflict is a worrying situation to everyone who gets to know and hear what is happening there.

He highlighted that the UN, U.S.A and others should think of what they can do together with Africa engaged to find a solution.