- The Washington Times - Friday, March 17, 2000

Ambassadors and senior envoys from six African nations visited The Washington Times this week to discuss the causes and possible solutions to the war in Congo. It was the first in what will be an occasional series of Washington Times round-table forums on international issues.
The participants were Ambassadors Richard Sezibera (Rwanda); Edith Ssempala (Uganda); Simbi Mubako (Zimbabwe); Leonard Iipumbu (Namibia); Deputy Chief of Mission to the United Nations Ileka Atoki (Congo); and Deputy Chief of Mission to the United States Henri Simbakwira (Burundi).
The discussion was moderated by Deputy Managing Editor Fran Coombs, Foreign Editor David Jones and reporter-editor Gus Constantine.
MINISTER-COUNSELOR ILEKA: The first thing I would like to say is that, as you know, [U.N. Undersecretary General for Peacekeeping Operations Bernard] Miyet was lately in Kinshasa, and I understand also that someone from your State Department is also in the region, and from what I heard back home everybody said that the discussions that they had in Kinshasa were very positive. So let's cross our hands, but they are still going forward. The momentum is to go forward.
I would like to begin again to talk about the nature of the conflict. Like … Secretary of State [Madeleine K.] Albright said that this war is an African first world war, and I think that's very accurate. This war is not a civil war, and in fact yesterday (Monday) again the minister of foreign affairs of Belgium made a statement saying that, even though he understood that Rwanda and Uganda had some security concerns in the region, that was not a reason to invade the DRC (Democratic Republic of Congo).
All those intentions are very good, but we would like to see the international community, the U.S., Belgium, to condemn what Rwanda, Uganda, and Burundi are doing actually in the DRC. This is not acceptable, for whatever reason it is.
I would like to say something about the Lusaka agreement also. The Lusaka agreement for us is a viable basis for a peaceful solution in the DRC. We say is a viable basis, but in our view the most viable basis for a peaceful solution in the interest of DRC is the unconditional withdrawal of Rwanda, Uganda and Burundi. That is the most viable basis.
So we signed the Lusaka agreement, we are committed to the Lusaka agreement. We are committed to the new timetable, which set the date on the first of March of this year.
There is the issue of how we deal with the problem of the different communities which are in Rwanda and Burundi, the Twa, the Tutsi, the Hutu. They have to find some way to live together and to stop blaming other countries of their own problems. That's just one [thing] I want to say.
Also, something I want to say, that we in DRC are committed to democratize our country. But if we do it alone, it will not help the region. Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi need also to be democratized so that the people choose their own leaders and that the people find a way to live in harmony in their country. If they do so and if we do so, that will be a big step for peace in the region.
AMBASSADOR SSEMPALA: I think many of you might remember that since 1960 approximately 1.2 million Rwandese, 400,000 Burundians, 800,000 Ugandans, and many Congolese have been exterminated extrajudicially by the fascist regimes of [Rwanda's Gregoire] Kayibanda, [Juvenal] Habyarimana, [Uganda's] Idi Amin, Mobutu [Sese Seko of Zaire, now Congo], et cetera. Now, in the last century maybe Hitler's Germany and Pol Pot's Cambodia compete with our region in these horrific atrocities.
I also hope that you will agree with me that such atrocities are no longer acceptable anywhere and, similarly, they will no longer be acceptable in Africa and we are not going to allow them.
… as you know, the conflict does not begin actually with Mr. [Laurent] Kabila (president of Congo). It precedes Mr. Kabila. [It begins with] the genocide and after the genocide, Mr. Mobutu supported the Interahamwe that continued to destabilize or said they wanted to go back and finish the work that they had not completed.
We supported at that time Mr. Kabila. Actually, if anybody talked of any invasion, maybe that was the time of the invasion; we were invading with Mr. Kabila at that time, not invading in the real sense, because we were following more or less in hot pursuit, because you know very well of the incursions in Rwanda by the Interahamwe.
So as far as we are concerned, therefore, the history of the conflict starts with that time. We supported Mr. Kabila. In fact, I would say that we really were not supporting Mr. Kabila per se; we were supporting ourselves, we were supporting our own security.
Now, when we arrived we had hoped that he did understand our concerns and that he was going to take care of them. And indeed, we think that at the beginning he did, because we knew that the country is big and he was not able to control the borders. But that is why he (Mr. Kabila) invited us, invited Uganda, to station our troops in eastern Congo, so that we can take care of our own security because he was not able to do it himself.
Now, when he became unfriendly with us, that is actually when he told us to leave, and obviously for us the situation was even more precarious, so it would have been suicide on our part to leave at that time. So I think the question of the invasion, you can't invade when you're already there, and I think he's aware of that.
MR. COOMBS: Why was the situation more precarious?
MRS. SSEMPALA: It was more precarious because of the intervention of Sudan. Sudan had started a little bit collaborating with Mr. Mobutu in destabilizing Uganda. That is how some elements, some terrorist elements, passing through Sudan coming through to Congo.
So that is why it was not possible, since we knew even at that time that Mr. Kabila could not effectively control all his country, and you know very well that the Interahamwe were there and they are still there, and they are the real reasons why really on our part, on our side, that Uganda and Rwanda got involved in the first place.
You also of course know that on the western border the very real reason I think that Angola was involved is because Congo was being used by UNITA (National Union for the Total Independence of Angola) to destabilize Angola as well.
And therefore we think that we do agree with I agree with my brother here that the Lusaka agreement is the only viable and credible way forward. We fully, wholeheartedly support it. We support it because it addresses all the important factors. It addresses the security of his own country and of our own countries, and we think that the security of each country is equally important.
MR. CONSTANTINE: The Lusaka agreement calls for the disarming of the Hutu, but it does not say who is going to disarm them. Can this problem of border security be solved simply by saying we support Lusaka?
MRS. SSEMPALA: I think what you are saying is legitimate. Actually, the Lusaka agreement talks about disarming and disbanding the Interahamwe.
For us, we really don't like talking in terms of Hutu-Tutsi, because we don't think that is the issue.
AMBASSADOR IIPUMBU: [We're meeting] to review the issues of very important concern to all of us.
On the question of Angola that you rightly asked me to comment on, first I would like it's almost with tears that I will say this, but at the same time confident and determined to let you know, that the civil war in Angola has gone on and on for 30 years today, a little bit over 30 years. Within this 30 years, things have happened. Namibia has become a victim of the civil war in Angola from 1975. We had hoped to get our independence probably in 1982.
During this time we had to fight two enemies. That was UNITA and the South Africans. It was hard for us, but finally it went through. It was independence in 1990 in Namibia. We have never, and I say this on the record, used any foreign force to help us to fight for our independence.
After independence, we encouraged the Angolan people to opt for peace. And my president [Sam Nujoma] is on record asking the Angolans to put down their arms, talk, because we have a successful story to tell as an example. My president invited [UNITA leader Jonas] Savimbi and Savimbi refused to meet my president, and the idea was to talk to him and tell him, to give him confidence that, go back to the table, go back to Luanda (capital of Angola).
MR. CONSTANTINE: So is it fair to say then Savimbi is the compelling reason why both Luanda and Namibia are supporting the government of Congo?
MR. IIPUMBU: Yes, certainly, certainly. Savimbi is definitely, but more than that, more than that. I was talking about Angola and now I talk about Congo.
You asked about what is happening there. Namibia for some time has been in the news to have allowed Angola to use their territory to fight UNITA and I want to confirm to you here I see nothing wrong with that.
Angola is our ally.
Why we support Kabila, first of all, is that Namibia belongs [the Southern African Development Community], and SADC have [an] interstate defensive security organ and in 1995 in a meeting we decided that none of the SADC members should be taken by armed groups.
When Kabila was invaded, we felt that this has been violated.
Again, on the invitation of President Kabila, we decided to go to make sure that his government, his legitimate government, is not toppled by those who invaded Congo.
More than that, we sensed another massive genocide was going to take place in Kinshasa if we did not go there, and we felt very proud that we have stopped that. So if you wanted to know the reason why we have gone there, basically it's [this:]
"Why should we allow this to happen again?"
MR. IIPUMBU: If we did not go there, [with] those rebels within 30 kilometers of Kinshasa, Kinshasa would have fallen into their hands. And you won't tell me, nor can anybody tell me today, you know what would happen. Therefore one can only predict that this was another genocide, because it's not acceptable by the Congolese people.
We thought we must prevent this.
MR. ILEKA: See, when I hear from the ambassador of Uganda remember in 1996, when we voted the international force on Rwanda? you saw all those CNN pictures showing thousands of people walking. Walking where, I don't know. But the Rwandans say that all the refugees went back to Rwanda.
Lately we are at the meetings with the [U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees]; his colleague in New York said that all the refugees, Rwandan refugees, are back in the country. So what is the security concern?
Ambassador Mubako, Why is Zimbabwe in this war?
AMBASSADOR MUBAKO: Well, Zimbabwe is in the war really for the reasons which my colleague the ambassador of Namibia has explained. The Congo, DRC, is a member of SADC. That's the Southern African Development Community. And Namibia, Zimbabwe, Angola and others, other countries, are members of this organization.
In that organization we would like to develop economically, develop trade with each other. But we are also conscious that we want to develop in a democratic system. We would like to develop in a similar way in all the countries.
MR. MUBAKO: Security included. My own president is the chairman of the defense and security organ of SADC. When we got the message from President Kabila that his country was invaded by Uganda and Rwanda and that he had major security concerns within his country and he called for assistance, we felt we had to go in and assist.
I must add also that we feared that if the government of Kabila was going to be overthrown by force by troops from other countries, you could have pogroms and genocide in a similar way as we had had in Rwanda, but this time happening in Kinshasa. We had that fear.
MR. COOMBS: Can Zimbabwe support indefinitely the cost of having troops in the Congo?
MR. MUBAKO: None of us is rich. None of our countries in Africa can afford an indefinite war. Nobody can. Obviously, President Mugabe would want to shorten this whole military campaign as much as possible, both because in any case [Zimbabwe] was there only in order to save the situation and when the situation is saved there is no reason to have troops in another country, that we would bring them back, just as we brought our troops back from Mozambique.
MR. ILEKA: Like he said, they have been invited according to Article 51 of the Charter of the United Nations. And when we're going to talk about the withdrawal of foreign troops, the first to leave must be Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi, and then the other ones.
MR. MUBAKO: In any case, now we have the solution. That is, the Lusaka agreement. That's the mechanism through which all this will be done. Uganda and Rwanda and Burundi have all signed and agreed to move out. So have we.
SADC forces will all move out also, but nevertheless we still would want that the deciding factor in the end is the Congolese government.
MR. IIPUMBU: I just wanted to complement, because of the very important question you raised, which is whether we are really encouraging Kabila. We want to also put it on the record, from Day 1 when we went there, because we did not really go to engage in a war, we went there to stop the invasion, in the hope that the world would move in.
By the way this must be on the record. Before the invasion we were talking to President Kabila about democratization, and Namibia was, as a matter of fact, an example. We are already learning from, by example, how did we come up with our constitution?
So we have been talking to Kabila how to democratize, not only because there was a war.
MR. CONSTANTINE: But why is that Namibia's problem?
MR. MUBAKO: We're all in Africa.
MRS. SSEMPALA: Thank you very much. Of course, you know, you know very well that there is a difference between solidarity and being threatened physically. Obviously, my brothers from Zimbabwe and Namibia as you know, Namibia and Zimbabwe do not have a border with the Congo, so they really do not receive any threat from Congo because they are lucky in a way in this aspect.
And also remember give me a minute. Also remember what really incited the genocide. For us who are neighbors, we used to hear the incitement on radios almost everywhere. In fact, we knew something bad was going to happen.
I'm glad that my brother has talked about it, and you seem to have been surprised that we were all concerned about the genocide. But I think, yes, Africans are no longer going to tolerate another genocide.
Remember also in Kinshasa in 1998, on television before CNN [cameras] I hope some of you saw it when actually, with due respect, President Kabila got up and said he was telling the Congolese "'Get up, get whatever you can get, the machetes, the whatever, and, you know, kill them."
Remember, even if they were Rwandese, being Rwandese is not a crime. Being Rwandese in Kinshasa is not a crime.
MR. COOMBS: Why are they in there?
MRS. SSEMPALA: I think events were [moving] very fast, and before a resolution between the rebels themselves was done somehow they moved in very fast. Of course, so it was in a way in solidarity because, as you remember, Congo had just joined SADC.
But there is also legitimacy through struggle, where you, the people themselves, you lead the people to rebel in their own country, and of course eventually you go through the process of democratization and then elections and so forth and so on.
MR. JONES: So why did you turn against him?
MRS. SSEMPALA: We turned against him because he turned [out] not to be more or less the same he actually started supporting the Interahamwe. And by the way, you might know, because it is not a secret, that a big part of the army I don't think they even have an army really as such. They probably have trained a few [soldiers] lately. But many [of those fighting for the Kabila government] are the Interahamwe. Now, that is extremely bothersome.
FIRST COUNSELOR SIMBAKWIRA: I want just to say I was not prepared to make a statement because we were invited as an observer.
About the Congo, I have just to repeat what our government has pointed out at many occasions: That our troops are not involved in the conflict in Congo. So our action has been immediate to the protection of our border and to escort our goods through the Tanganyika Lake. I think it has been at many occasions made clear, so that's what's happening.
MR. ILEKA: Just a comment first, on Burundi. He said that his country is not involved in the Congo. But I'm sorry, but there are pictures, wire reports, that [show] they are. We see soldiers in Burundian uniforms taking actions against the FDD (Forces for the Defense of Democracy, the formal name of the Burundian rebels), and that's in the DRC. I'm sorry, but I have to say that.
The other thing, the genocide …
And when they killed [Rwandan President Juvenal] Habyarimana and [President] Cyprien Ntaryamira of Burundi, that was the fact which triggered the genocide. I'm saying that the people who shot down the plane because that plane was shot down with an SA-16 missile which the FPR (Rwandese Patriotic Front, also referred to as RPF) which were in Kigali at that time according to the Arusha agreement they're the ones who did it. So they knew exactly by doing that action they would trigger a genocide.
MR. CONSTANTINE: Who was in Kigali?
MR. ILEKA: The FPR, yes, in Kigali. There was the Arusha agreement and the FPR was stationed in Kigali.
MR. CONSTANTINE: You are demanding that foreign forces leave, but how does that solve the problem? How does that bring permanent peace to the Lakes region?
MR. ILEKA: First of all, we said that we ourselves are committed to democratize our system. In the Congo, when Kabila took power he began to do that. He had a timetable of two years to come to general elections. That would have taken place on May 24, 1999.
But the war stopped that short, because those people who said that they were here before and they didn't invade the problem is that when a government, even if you are invited, if we tell you that, look, now it's finished, go back home, just go back home. You don't say, I'm staying here, but I'm not invading, but I'm still I'm still doing whatever they are doing.
Even the chief of staff of the Congolese government, James Kabari, who is now the deputy chief of the Ugandan army, led the Congolese army. Now, if for more than two years in this area you were not able to solve whatever your security concerns were, how are you going to solve it now?
MR. CONSTANTINE: Why do you suppose, Mr. Ambassador, that the Rwandans and the Ugandans helped Mr. Kabila come to power? For what reason?
MR. ILEKA: You should ask them. I don't know.
MR. MUBAKO: You asked earlier why Uganda and Rwanda helped Kabila overthrow Mobutu. I would like to add to that that my country also assisted Uganda, Kabila, and Rwanda to overthrow Mobutu. We were all agreed that the Mobutu regime was not doing any good for the Congo and for Africa generally. So many people don't know that in fact we were all of us, we were all in one camp.
We didn't send troops to help Kabila, but we sent a lot of assistance, arms and so on, to help Kabila overthrow Mobutu, because we were all agreed. And as a matter of fact, it was President Museveni who coordinated that. He came to my president. President Museveni came to my president and said: Now, let's work together to overthrow him. And my president agreed. We worked together until we reached Kinshasa, Mobutu was overthrown. And after a few months, after some months, then disagreements developed between the Kabila government and Ugandans and Rwandans.
We did not agree with Uganda and Rwanda at that point, and we felt that, no, no, we can't go on changing governments like that, that we should now support a new government.
AMBASSADOR SEZIBERA: Let me just make a few preliminary remarks, if you will indulge me. First of all, the question that my brother is talking about, who is Congolese and who is Rwandese and who is not. There are a number of groups in that region that have crossed borders. We do have a big group of Rwandans, Rwan-
dan-speaking people, who are in Uganda, who are in Tanzania, some are in Burundi, we have a group in the Congo.
We've never considered them as Banyarwandans, the present day Rwandans, after colonialism. A small part of that group became Rwandans. Everybody else became whatever they became. Some became Congolese. That's our understanding. Others became Tanzanians, some became Burundi[ans], because of the borders.
So the Congo has that. Our understanding is that they've never been accepted. In fact, there were some efforts to kick them out of the Congo that began during the Mobutu period, 1992. There were big problems in the eastern Congo even before the genocide took place in Rwanda. So already there were the roots of conflict in eastern Congo, something way before 1994.
Now, of course, in 1994 when the genocide occurred in Rwanda the forces, some of the genocidal forces that went into the Congo, eastern Congo, eastern Zaire then, contributed to making an already-bad situation worse because they came in with arms and an ideology of extermination. So there is that history.
It does not begin in 1994, as people say. It begins way before that. That's one comment I want to make. Now, when we went into Zaire in 1996 Rwanda had very limited aims.
Our aims were to deal with the threat of the 120,000 armed men in the camps on our borders, because the camps were right at the border, with the connivance from President Mobutu, and we felt that was a big threat to us, and we went in to deal with that problem.
We also were aware that Mobutu was not good for the Zairians, but we didn't think it was our problem. But there were Zairians who thought, who agreed with us that he was bad for them, and our friends in the region also who felt the same way. So we helped.
There was a convergence of interests between the Zairians, led by Mr. Kabila, and our own interest in dealing with the threat posed by the genocidal militia. That is why we went into the Congo in 1996. We had no love for or hatred for Mr. Mobutu. We didn't know him.
Now, to answer your question, what happened?
The objective conditions that took us into the Congo in 1996 reproduced themselves in 1997, 1998. In 1997 we began to see the armed groups, the genocidal forces, again receiving arms, getting training from different camps within the Congo, launching attacks in Rwanda. Towards December 1997, they were so well supplied that they menaced Kigali.
The whole of the northwestern part of Rwanda was a no-go zone. It became worse in 1998. We had a number of discussions with President Kabila then and others in the region, and we told them what this problem was.
And it was not solved. It was not solved. So the objective conditions that led us in the Congo in 1996 reproduced themselves in 1997, 1998. On our side, that's what went on.
The conditions also happened to find a number of Congolese for some reason were unhappy with President Kabila, some of whom were with him in his movement, the AFDL (Allied Democratic Forces for Liberation), others of whom had not been in his movement, some who had been in his army or in his movement. So again there was a convergence of interests that we went in again to deal with the unsettled business in 1996. There was a convergence of interests with other countries who had differences with Mr. Kabila, and that in my opinion, that's exactly what went wrong.
MR. ILEKA: We never armed any group at all. We never armed any group against Rwanda. We never armed any group against Uganda. That's a fact. Beginning in 1994, when all those 8 millions of people came into the Congo, you see, they submerged the borders. So we had in all the Kivus about more than 1 million Rwandese people, refugees. Among them you had the Interahamwe.
And then we went to lengthy discussions with the United Nations to make a difference between the real refugees and the armed groups, which were the Interahamwes and the ex-FAR (Rwandan Armed Forces of the former regime), and that's it. But for some reason, the response of the international community was unsatisfactory. We couldn't even move we didn't want to move these persons inside the Congo. We were even looking for some third countries to settle them, but nothing came of it, and then there was all this problem of the new wave of people, of the refugees coming. There was now a problem inside the Kivus. You had Hutu against Tutsi, you had Tutsi against others, et cetera, et cetera. It was a really, really big problem. I think that was one of the ideas which triggered the '96 movement, of course, yes.
MR. JONES: So how were these groups getting armed?
MR. ILEKA: I don't know. What I know, actually at least, since there is all this situation of war, you have all these arms from the former Soviet Union which have flowed inside the region. And … you have all these individuals selling arms at prices which defy any credence. It's a criminal activity.
MR. COOMBS: So, weapons from the former Soviet Union?
MR. ILEKA: Most of them, yes. We have some AK-47s. They are floating, and that's the situation, because since 1994 we have had an arms embargo in the region, but they're still floating, yes.
MR. JONES: So Ambassador Iipumbu, is this also the case in Angola, the same arms traffic?
MR. IIPUMBU: In Namibia?
MR. JONES: Well, into Angola.
MR. IIPUMBU: Well, I wouldn't comment much on that because I'm not in Angola and I'm not there. But obviously what one sees there is that the UNITA bandits have access to arms and that's why they were able to stay much longer in the bush like that. Again, you know, there's an effort, a concerted effort at the international level, to try and find out as a matter of fact the source of supplying UNITA arms and those countries that are involved in trading in diamonds.
As long as those arms are continuing by individuals or even by countries, … [the reason that] Savimbi has been in the bush for so long is because they were able to first have access to their own diamonds which they were able to trade and buy those guns from whoever's selling them. That's why they were able to continue surviving to this time.
MR. SEZIBERA: As far as we are concerned, the region has identified the causes of the conflict in the Congo in the Lusaka peace agreement. We think that if that agreement is implemented, one, there must be, the signatories to it should be committed to it, fully committed to it. On our part, we're committed to it, and if the other signatories are fully committed to it we think that is a big step forward.
MR. COOMBS: Is Congo fully committed to it?
MR. ILEKA: Certainly. We said that in the U.N. and repeated that to Mr. Miyet in Kinshasa, and we said that again.
MR. SEZIBERA: So then that's one, commitment of the signatories. Number two, the role that we envisage for the international community, namely a robust presence of the United Nations to try and keep, assist us to keep the peace. One of the more important things that the force will have to do, apart from of course helping with the mission of the Lusaka peace agreement, would be to disarm or neutralize the non-signa-
tory forces to that agreement, forces that are not signatories. Those include the Interahamwe, ex-FAR, the ADF (Allied Democratic Forces, opponents of the Ugandan government), and other forces. Disarming them either, voluntarily or involuntarily, is a fundamental part of the peace process, and we would hope that the U.N. is sending a force equal to the task. Phase two is 500 observers and 5,000, I think, peacekeepers, so the total comes up to about 5,500. It's a beginning, but reality dictates that there be a much larger force in the Congo.
MR. ILEKA: In my view, in the deployment, if I may, we may have about let's say 10,000 to maybe 25,000 that's too much peacekeepers.
MR. COOMBS: Ten to 25,000 peacekeepers?
MR. ILEKA: That's the least we can have… . What we are suggesting to the U.N., since the problem is in the east, we can have a substantial peacekeeping force at the border here just to secure Rwanda for their security, for our security concerns, that they have, and also Uganda… . also in our view to the signatories, the non-state signatories of the Lusaka agreement, because you cannot have, you disarm the Interahamwe which are fighting one war, and not disarm the others. You have to disarm the RCD (Rally for Congolese Democracy, one of the anti-Kabila rebel groups) which are attacking the Congo.
MR. COOMBS: How long would that take?
MR. ILEKA: It will take the time it takes.
MR. COOMBS: How soon after that would President Kabila permit elections?
MR. ILEKA: That is the job of the facilitator, [former Botswana President Ketumile] Masire. President Masire is the one who is going to negotiate for the internal Congolese dialogue to take place.
MRS. SSEMPALA: I would just respond by saying that I believe that we have a good future. I know that Uganda is committed and we have worked very hard on that if we are all committed and we do our part, I think everything has been very well stipulated in the Lusaka peace accord. In fact, the Lusaka peace accord has acknowledged both the external factor and the internal factor.
It has also it also has recognized, in a way it has legitimized the rebels who are also signatories. That is particularly very important because we need a cease-fire to hold, and if you are going to have a cease-fire holding then the people who are really fighting have got to be committed as well.
I think that will be very helpful.
So I think that, yes, we would wish to have a bigger force than we already have been offered, but, as he said, I think it is a good beginning. I think if we can just move on to make sure that we do not leave any vacuum for anybody to fill. If we keep moving the process that is moving forward, then this is very good.
MR. CONSTANTINE: Ambassador Sezibera, are you as fully supportive as the Congo and Uganda are about the Lusaka accords and the U.N. role?
MR. SEZIBERA: We certainly are, yes.
It's important, though, to stick both to the letter and the spirit of Lusaka if it's going to work, because it's something that we spent our time debating for a long time when we came to it. So it's important that we stick to it in the search for peace.
Now, you mentioned the approach of Burundi and Rwanda. We in Rwanda believe that political problems are best solved by negotiation and inclusion, and this is what we've been doing within the country.
We have eight political parties. All of them are in government, all of them are in parliament. So we discuss. And if it is a group with a political agenda, we are willing to negotiate with it. However, it would be not only difficult, but illegal and criminal, to negotiate with people who committed genocide. And we make a very clear distinction between those two. It's not every armed person who is a genocider.
We make that distinction very clear, and we have re-integrated very many armed people and we will continue to do that. But the genociders, the people who carried out and planned the genocide and they are known we shall not negotiate with.
So there is that distinction that we make. It's very clear in our mind. Sometimes people say, but you are not negotiating with everybody.
No, we are very clear with the people we negotiate with and those that we do not.
MR. CONSTANTINE: I'm not sure who you classify as a genocidaire and who you include as a genocidaire, or who you exclude. Obviously, if it was just the number of people that committed the genocide, then there's not a compelling reason for Rwanda to go into the Congo. It was because it was facing armed men, not all of whom committed genocide. Isn't that true?
MR. SEZIBERA: That is true, and in fact we like I said, the majority of the foot soldiers have been either re-integrated or settled within Rwanda. There is, however, an organization of people who committed the genocide in Rwanda who are in the Congo, who do recruit people to join them. They do form the political and military leadership and they're the spokespersons for these groups that are in the Congo.
MR. JONES: Is everybody at the table saying Interahamwe is the problem that must be dealt with? Is anyone disagreeing with that?
MR. MUBAKO: I don't think anybody disagrees.
MR. IIPUMBU: I don't disagree… . We are committed, all of us representing countries here, and want to confirm to you and through you to the world that we are committed to the process.
But you see, we don't want to live in isolation, and that's why the whole international community is there. If what had happened in Kosovo is right and what is happening in East Timor is fine, so too it should have been in the Congo. For President Masire to embark on his heavy task of the dialogue on the Congo, he will need funds to solicit men and women able to negotiate and bring peace there.
MR. CONSTANTINE: How much money?
MR. IIPUMBU: I won't say how much they need.
MR. ILEKA: It is an international war, because it involves about 10 different countries.
So there should be an international response to that, and that's what I was coming back to, that we have to see also beyond Lusaka, beyond the resolutions.
We should have an international conference on the resolutions, absolutely. We have to tackle the issue of democratization. We want to democratize our region and we will do so, but Uganda and Rwanda have to do so also, because if Rwanda and Uganda are not democracies you still have politics of exclusion and this wave of refugee camps coming and going and we still have some problems. That is very essential. They have to democratize.
MR. COOMBS: We'll just go around the table for final words.
MR. SEZIBERA: I think my final comment really is that there are two ways. One is that we all must express support for Lusaka and move forward in a way, because that will enable the different countries to deal with their own individual pressing problems.
Number two, and as far as Rwanda is concerned, we have already said that the question of the genocidal militia is an international obligation. It's not a responsibility of Rwanda to deal with it. It's not a responsibility of Uganda or Zimbabwe or Congo. It's an international obligation. And Lusaka recognizes that.
If I may make a few comments, if you look at our histories, they're very difficult and you cannot discuss them here. I don't think the problem is Hutu-Tutsi in the region, no. It's a question of ideology. It's a question of ideology of exclusion. Some people use different groupings to practice the politics of exclusion, which is something that we must deal with. To see it in the light of, to be very superficial, it's a question of that ideology which we must deal with. But Tutsi or Hutus serve as convenient scapegoats for different people at different times.
Now, it would be unfortunate for the international community if it discarded this effort by us in Africa. It would be extremely unfortunate. And we would hope that all countries, the whole international community, put their efforts into making it work, making the solutions identified work. Is it going to be easy? No. Might it be costly in terms of money and lives? Yes. Is it worth it? Yes. What are the alternatives? Much worse than what we have. So I think the international community must be mobilized to go in and support this agreement. Is there 100 percent surety that it will work? No. Is there a good probability that it will? Yes, we must take that chance to support it for those reasons.
MRS. SSEMPALA: I would like to put it on record that President Museveni has stated on several times that if Uganda's problems were taken care of, Uganda would even unilaterally get out of Congo.
I think we are all on our way to recovery. We have already at least I think repaired, partly at least, our solidarity. That is why we have been able to act together to come up with I think a very comprehensive way forward through the Lusaka peace process. Uganda supports it fully.
So all in all, really, I think this is a healthy forum, and we think that we are not yet completely out of the woods, but we are definitely making progress, and we would like to continue. But I think the next time we come we should be maybe celebrating that Africa, yes, Africa has made it.
Thank you.
MR. SIMBAKWIRA: I want just to say that my government fully support the Lusaka agreement even if we're not part of it. But we have been fully participating in all meetings as observers, and we are aware that if in the Congo there will not be peace, Burundi will not have peace. And if in Burundi there is not peace, I think the Congo will be concerned. This way we follow what will be done in the Lusaka process, and we fully support it.
MR. MUBAKO: Really, I do not want to repeat what everyone else said, but merely wish to thank you for calling us together. I think we know why each one of us went into the Congo. We have stated that clearly. There's no need to repeat it.
You know also that we are now all agreed that we should get out of the Congo, that is apart from the Congolese government. We as members of SADC feel that all we have done is really to help keep the peace, to help keep the government in position until the international community can take over. So really we have been doing the work that the international community should have done from the very beginning.
But the international community moves in slowly. We moved in fast and, you know, we held the fort for some time. Now that the United Nations are going to come in, it will be the time for us all to move out.
We therefore very much wish the Lusaka agreement to be implemented fully, and as Zimbabwe I can assure you that we will support the Lusaka agreement. There is not going to be a unilateral withdrawal by Zimbabwe because of economic difficulties, as I think that has been said. That's not on. But we will move out as agreed in the Lusaka agreement.
MR. IIPUMBU: There's one thing important we didn't mention, all of us, … that as we move forward to the beginning of restoring peace in the Congo and we are talking of the international community, I think … we must respect the international community when they are there. We asked them to come to our help and we must allow them to fulfill their obligations.
What is happening in Angola, a United Nations plane being shot down by UNITA, is unacceptable. When we start doing that, then we destroy the process. I think the United Nations that we are asking and they are coming by the mandate of the Security Council, we must allow them to perform their duties and we must be able to discipline ourselves into that if we are really committed to peace, because if we don't do that and they pull out it's going to be a problem.
Again, the second phase, which is now by the Resolution 1291, is tests. We won't move to phase three if this is disturbed. Therefore there's a need to have a commitment really to allow the United Nations peacekeeping forces to do their observation and advising. In any case, they will not work in isolation. They will work with us. But we shouldn't we must not do what happened in Angola with the UNITA, disagree with the Lusaka accord and start shooting down the United Nations, disagree with the United Nations, Red Cross, and other people of good will to reach the spots to treat those people who are wounded. This I think is plain.
With that I think I am concluded.



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