President Kagame and President Kabila respond to questions during a joint press conference Goma, Congo, on Feb. 18, 2005. Goma is the capital of North Kivu province in Eastern Congo, perhaps the Earth’s richest mineral treasure trove, on the border with Rwanda, where untold riches are plundered – stolen – from the Congolese people through Rwanda by Western corporations to build our cell phones and jet planes. – Photo: Paul Kagame/Flickr
KPFA Weekend News Host: Rwandan political prisoner Victoire Ingabire is spending her second Christmas in Rwanda’s maximum security prison. Her ongoing trial, on charges of terrorism and genocide ideology, has implications not only for Rwanda, but also for the entire Great Lakes Region of Africa – most of all, for the Democratic Republic of Congo. KPFA reporter Ann Garrison has more.
KPFA/Ann Garrison: Victoire Ingabire’s daughter Raissa Ujeneza is studying international and European law at The Hague University in the Netherlands. She told KPFA why she believes her mother is spending her second Christmas behind bars in Kigali, Rwanda:
This Christmas card from Mme Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza was made by the Rwandan FDU-Inkingi Coalition of Opposition Parties that she heads.
Raissa Ujeneza: My mother has been accused of genocide ideology, collaboration with a terrorist group, divisionism, spreading rumors aimed at inciting the population to rise against the regime and creating a rebel army in Congo. These are all just political motivated accusations. All oppositions that have tried to go against the government in Rwanda have been prosecuted and murdered and this case is not any different from the others.
KPFA: Raissa Ujeneza also explained the significance of her mother’s challenge to the Rwandan Kagame regime in the neighboring Democratic Republic of the Congo:
Raissa Ujeneza: Rwanda has played a huge role in the conflicts going on in the Great Lakes area. As long as there is no democracy in Rwanda, this will influence the issues going on in that Great Lakes area, for those countries also collaborate together. And also in Congo, as we have seen, democracy is far to be found.
Étienne Tshisekedi has refused to concede to incumbent Joseph Kabila in Congo’s presidential election, which observers described as a massive fraud. Tshisekedi swore himself in on Dec. 23 at his own home, after Kabila’s police prevented him from meeting his supporters at Kinshasa’s Martyrs Stadium. The DRC electoral commission halted the vote count for parliamentary elections on Dec. 21 until experts arrive from the United States and Britain. – Photo: AFP/Getty
KPFA: At a Senate Foreign Relations hearing last week, speakers from the International Crisis Group, a group of capital managers and highly placed government officials and lawyers, and Mvemba Dizolele, a Congolese fellow at Stanford’s Hoover Institution, warned that the Democratic Republic of the Congo could be on the brink of civil war after a massively fraudulent election which incumbent President Kabila claims to have won. Many Congolese now protesting the election fraud, both in Congo and around the world, have been chanting, “Send him back to Rwanda.” They believe that Kabila is a Rwandan named Hypolite Kanambe, who is pretending to be Congolese while collaborating with Rwandan President Paul Kagame in plundering Congo.
DR Congo is bordered by Sudan, Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi. The shaded areas are Congo’s North and South Kivu provinces, the intense conflict regions on the country’s borders with Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi.
Maurice Carney, executive director of Washington, D.C.-based Friends of the Congo, says that Kabila’s national origin is not the real issue:
Maurice Carney: The issue is not so much whether Kabila is Rwandan or not but rather the destructive collaboration with Paul Kagame and the Rwandan government – a collaboration that is devoid of accountability or justice especially in light of the 17 years of U.N. reports documenting Rwandan President Paul Kagame’s atrocities and illegal minerals trafficking in the Congo.
KPFA: Kabila’s leading challenger Étienne Tshisekedi, like many of his supporters, refers to Kabila as “the Rwandan.” Tshisekedi claims that he in fact won the election. On Friday, he held his own inauguration ceremony in Kinshasa, even though Kabila’s security forces prevented him from leaving his house to take his oath of office at Kinshasa’s Martyrs Stadium. The security forces also fired tear gas and arrested many Tshisekedi supporters who had gone to the stadium to meet him.
The presidents of the African Union, including Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame, have acknowledged Kabila’s victory, but neither Barack Obama nor any other presidents of NATO countries have.
For Pacifica, KPFA and AfrobeatRadio, I’m Ann Garrison.