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Hutu fighters in DRC call for talks as Kigali and Kinshasa agree on military operation

Article published on the 2008-12-06 Latest update 2008-12-07 09:49 TU

Rwanda Foreign Affairs Minister Rosemary Museminali (L) and DRC counterpart Alexis Thambe Mwamba, 5 December 2008(Photo: Reuters)

Rwanda Foreign Affairs Minister Rosemary Museminali (L) and DRC counterpart Alexis Thambe Mwamba, 5 December 2008
(Photo: Reuters)

Exiled Rwandan Hutu fighters based in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo are calling for direct talks with the governments of Rwanda and DRC following Friday’s announcement of a joint military offensive against them. The two countries signed an agreement targeting the Rwandan Hutus who fled to the DRC after a Tutsi rebellion took control in Rwanda in the wake of the country's genocide 14 years ago.

“We have always advocated for a peaceful settlement of the Rwandan problem, which is actually a political problem, and therefore can only be settled through political talks,” Calixte Mbarushimana, Executive Secretary of the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), one of the groups targeted for attacks, told RFI.

“We don’t want to go to war,” he continued. “What we want is to have direct talks with the Rwandan government so that we can settle that problem peacefully.”

Reaction: Calixte Mbarushimana, Executive Secretary, Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR)

06/12/2008 by Billie O'Kadameri

For years Rwanda has demanded that the DRC disarm the Hutus. This week, DRC Foreign Minister Alexis Thambe Mwamba and his Rwandan counterpart Rosemary Museminali met for two days to agree on a plan to crack down on the FDLR and other groups in DRC’s troubled North-Kivu province.

Mbarushimana says the Rwandan government is trying to deal with a political problem with its opposition by force, which does not work.

“I think they should take lessons from other countries,” he said, like Burundi and Uganda, which are talking to their rebel groups, the FNL Palipehutu and Joseph Kony and the Lord’s Resistance Army, respectively.

“So why does the Rwandan government not really want to talk with its opposition, especially the FDLR, to solve the problem which is there?” asked Mbarushimana.

Operations are to begin in a few weeks, in early 2009, a diplomatic source told the AFP news agency. The force will be led jointly by the Congolese army and the UN Monuc peacekeeping force, with input from Rwanda, though without Rwandan troops on Congolese soil.