Home Op-ed Presidents Museveni and Ndayishimiye frustrating President Félix Tshisekedi’s efforts to stabilize the...

Presidents Museveni and Ndayishimiye frustrating President Félix Tshisekedi’s efforts to stabilize the region

By Jean Gatera

Ugandan President Museveni, left, and his Burundian counterpart Evariste Ndayishimiye do not seem interested in initiatives to foster stability in the region.

A Kampala website, Commandonepost, has published an article that casts aspersions on an invitation by DRC President Félix Antoine Tshisekedi Tshilombo to fellow regional heads of state for a mini-summit in his country.

On the Fourth of this month the DRC President invited his counterparts, President Paul Kagame of Rwanda, Yoweri Museveni of Uganda, Evariste Ndayishimiye of Burundi and Angola’s Joao Laurenco to a summit in Goma. According to Jolino Makelele, President Tshisekedi’s spokesperson, the summit was to focus on peace and security and also intends to discuss relations among invited countries.

However, in the article that came out Friday, September 11th, 2020 in the evening in Commandonepost – a website run by one Bob Atwine and that is one of the many propaganda outlets under the control of Ugandan Military Intelligence, CMI – they floated the claim that “President Museveni might not be able to make it to the summit for security reasons.”

The Commandonepost article followed information in the media that Burundi would not be able to attend the mini-summit “due to tight schedule by its senior leaders.” Burundi also stated that it was planning in the near future, “to hold a bilateral meeting with the DRC government at the Ministerial level, to discuss on issues of security along the Burundi-DRC borders, economic exchanges between the two countries, management of Covid-19 along their common border, and other matters of mutual interest.”

Back to Uganda, any observer of security trends in the region will be aware that a summit on relations between states in the region would soon focus on the many Congo-based illegal armed groups that have been the main cause of regional instability, all of which have one common denominator: they are sponsored by the Kampala regime.

It has long been exposed that groups such as Kayumba Nyamwasa’s RNC, which had bases in the Minembwe region of eastern DRC before they were routed mid last year, as well as FDLR, RUD-Urunana and other terrorist outfits all are Kampala proxies. Confessions collected from captured terrorists like Maj. (Rtd) Habib Mudathir of RNC, captured alive in June last year together with two dozen of his men, implicate Uganda in sponsoring regional terrorism.

Another example is five captured RUD-Urunana terrorists, of those that attacked Kinigi District in Northern Province last year, killing 14 civilians before 19 of them were put out of action. The attack had originated from areas of DRC bordering Uganda, and the four that managed to escape fled to Uganda. The captured suspects said the attack was coordinated by a high-ranking Ugandan official, Regional Cooperation Minister Philemon Mateke.

These only are a couple of examples to show that Museveni would be extremely uneasy sitting in a room full of leaders, most likely to be put on the spot as the main cause of regional instability.

One does not go far into Commandonepost’s piece, titled “Why it is risky for President Museveni to fly to DRC for Goma summit”, to realize that the concocted smears against Rwanda are a means to deceive the easily deceived as to why the Ugandan President is wriggling out of the summit – even as they insult DRC (indirectly) in the process.

“Security experts have raised concerns about the safety of President Museveni and his entourage in case he is to fly to Goma or travel by road,” says the website. Soon the scapegoating of Rwanda starts. “It is very risky to fly to Goma because it means flying near Rwanda or flying over areas with FARDC military barracks because they are also ‘highly infiltrated by Rwandan agents or sympathisers within the Congolese army.”

With this childish smear against Rwanda, the Kampala propagandists also imply DRC authorities too would be involved in the imaginary plans “to assassinate” their president Museveni. It doesn’t stop there. Commandpost says even if Museveni opted to fly straight to Kinshasa, and from there to Goma, Kinshasa’s Ndjili Airport too allegedly is in Rwandan hands. That’s Ugandan propaganda.

According to them, the Congo isn’t a sovereign nation but rather something like a colony of Rwanda!

Ignoring all diplomatic good sense and common practice that the security of participants to a summit is guaranteed by the organizers, Commandonepost decides to deliberately undermine the Congolese president’s authority. To push its anti-Rwanda propaganda further, Commandonepost instead exposes its intentions to mislead, for instance claiming that the chief of the Congolese Police is one Bisengimana (which they do because the name sounds Rwandan). Yet this is someone who was replaced three years ago.

Deceptively, CommandPost also attributes to Rwanda several armed groups operating in Congo. Yet, according to the UN, they are the very groups backed by Uganda.

The presence of heads of state involved in the Luanda Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), signed in August last year by Presidents Kagame and Museveni as part of efforts to normalize bilateral relations between Uganda and Rwanda would be another reason for Museveni to fear attending the Goma summit. A review of the Luanda MoU would pin Uganda for failing to implement the measures Kampala is obliged to, to normalize relations.

In the previous quadripartite Heads of State summit held in February 2020 at Gatuna-Katuna (Rwanda-Uganda border), Uganda made several commitments in the Luanda MoU framework. In subsequent ministerial implementation committee reviews, the verdict is that by constantly taking a step forward and two steps back, Uganda has failed to honor the Luanda MoU.

Kampala has not implemented basic commitments that only require political goodwill, such as releasing all Rwandans illegally detained in Uganda and dismantling anti-Rwanda networks operating from Uganda. Ever since the Gatuna-Katuna summit, reports actually indicate Uganda has stepped up its backing, and facilitation of anti-Rwanda groups.

Although Uganda for instance claims to have deregistered a pseudo-NGO called Self-Worth Initiative, its leaders Prossy Bonabaana and Sula Nuwamanya continue to operate freely, carrying out mobilization and recruitment of elements working to destabilize Rwanda. Also, apart from releasing around 130 Rwandans that had been illegally detained in Uganda, many more remain in similar illegal detention in Ugandan dungeons.

These all are reasons why Museveni would be very nervous, and reluctant to sit in the same room as the other heads of state Kinshasa has invited. But to save face his propagandists again turn to anti-Rwanda smears, which have become very old by now.

According to sources, in a meeting of experts that took place in Goma on 10th this month, Uganda was represented by a huge delegation of over twenty people including among others its Ambassador to Kinshasa James Mbahimba, UPDF Deputy Chief of Defense Staff Lt. Gen. Wilson Mbadi Mbasu, its defense attaché to Kinshasa Brig. Olum Dick Prit, and the third secretary in Uganda’s Embassy in Kinshasa, Lucy Kakwano.

The Presence of Lt. Gen. Mbadi Mbasu signals something bigger than preparations for the summit. Mbadi has been fully involved in pushing for Uganda’s interests in DRC, and asking for the deployment of UPDF in eastern DRC. Furthermore, a visit to Kinshasa by a special envoy of President Museveni in the fourth week of July 2020 met with President Tshisekedi, with whom they discussed the security situation on the border between Uganda and the DRC, and reiterated Uganda’s desire to deploy in eastern DRC “as the only way to improve relations between the two countries.”

According to our source that interacted with both Ambassador Mbahimba and Lt. Gen. Wilson Mbadi (the UPDF Deputy Chief of Defense Forces of UPDF), Uganda is only interested in controlling eastern DRC, and continues attempts to destabilize Rwanda and DRC though more active support to its proxy armed groups.

According to the source, Uganda is trying all means to secure DRC approval for UPDF presence in the east of the country – which would then serve as a cover for continued support of the illegal armed groups it backs, from Ituri, Beni to Rutshuru and extend to South Kivu.

These armed groups include CODECO, FDLR, M23 of Col Makenga that will link up with Banyamulenge groups of Col. Michel Rukunda aka Makanika, and RNC in South Kivu, in Uganda, and Burundi.

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