By Charles KambandaI find Kikwete’s comments a very strong signal that Kagame’s political honeymoon is long gone! It reveals a new regional political trend against Kagame.
For the first time, a head of State is telling Kagame that the Hutu fighting him have legitimate political concerns. They are not criminals as Kagame had cheated the world to believe.
It means Kagame’s major political tool has gone; by presenting the Hutu as evil under FDLR, Kagame had managed to knock out a very big potential and actual opposition block.If the Hutu make a come back into Rwanda’s political life as equal human beings not devils as he had managed to paint them, Kagame may consider himself gone.
Kikwete’s comment gives us an insight into the current political limbo in which Kagame finds himself. It fits well into the observation that Kagame does not have both political and military capacity to fight the UN brigade.
Once upon a time, Kagame had convinced everyone around that FDLR was evil incarnate! It was believed, and wrongly of course, that all the crimes committed in DRC were committed by FDLR.
Kagame exterminated people and blamed it all to FDLR. FDLR was called “negative force”. Now, Kikwete, a regional power, is telling Kagame to negotiate with FDLR! The problem is that, practically, FDLR does not exist!! Nobody knows who Kagame is going to negotiate with as FDLR because FDLR, for most part, is Kagame’s force!
FDLR in Rwandan politics is an ambiguous term. For outsiders it may be used to refer to the armed group fighting Kagame from DRC. However, for most Rwandans FDLR also means the Hutu as a group.
The Tanzanian diplomats I have spoken to in NY know this. I am sure Kikwete knows this as well. Is telling Kagame to negotiate with “FDLR” telling him to negotiate with the Hutu, his ethnic enemies?
Kikwete knows how much blood of the Tutsi Kagame has accumulated on his hands for his self-aggrandizement. All legitimate Tutsi opposition leaders have been branded “working with” FDLR. Now Kagame is being told to negotiate with FDLR. Then he’s being told to negotiate with the Tutsi political opposition. In general, the term FDLR in Kagame’s political paradigm means ” political opposition.”
In the last couples of years, several leaders of the FDLR based in Europe have been arrested and imprisoned at the instigation of the Rwandan government which branded their group as terrorist. Kagame’s image was then still bright and almost intact among western partners who were interested in pursuing their regional economic interests. As the strongman of the region, they required his complicit support to access DRC’s resources. However, despite a weakened but still disciplined FDLR, the group remains an inescapable force to have lasting peace in Eastern Congo.