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In the course of a recent IRIN fact-finding mission to the Kivus, an interview was conducted in Goma with Moise Nyarugabo, Second Vice-President of the Rassemblement congolais pour la democratie (RCD). The following are excerpts from the interview.
QUESTION: There has been much talk of splits within the RCD, between the RCD-Kisangani faction of Ernest Wamba dia Wamba and your RCD-Goma faction. Are you still divided?
ANSWER: I don't believe there are factions. There are probably people who want to create factions. Because if today, I, Maitre Moise, left the RCD and went to Bukavu or to establish myself in my village because there is disagreement, are we going to talk about factions? Wamba is an individual, even if he was our president. We did not agree on certain points - it's completely normal in a rebel movement such as ours. But what's serious, is that he left Goma to go to Kisangani. He told me as his vice president that he was going for two or three days, but he never came back. We tried to contact him to ask him to return, but he asked us to join him there. So, the president of a movement who flees the headquarters of the institution, who flees his collaborators - even if there's a problem, the president should not flee. He should resolve it.
These days he refers to us as militarists. So we now understand that he didn't know what he wanted. How could we not be militarists, when he headed a political-military movement which took up arms to overthrow the ruling power?
Q: So he was against arms? He wanted to negotiate peace?
A: We all want a negotiated peace. Our delegation is in South Africa, they will go to Lusaka in Zambia. Rather, we ask ourselves if he hadn't been infiltrated by Kabila. He's now saying he wants to negotiate with Kabila unconditionally. Unconditionally! We are all in favour of negotiations, but to call for unconditional negotiations - we now realise he didn't know his role. Maybe he had another agenda.
Q: Why did the [RCD] national assembly, which you have now dissolved, follow him to Kisangani?
A: That's untrue. They tried to deceive people into thinking they had gathered together 75 members [of the assembly]. It's not true. To tell you the truth, that day there were 32 people in his house, and they were not all members of the national assembly. But foreign radio stations said there were 75 members. The corrupt followed him. But they have no power base in Kisangani. We are an armed movement, they have no weapons, not even one soldier.
Q: Since you have the same objective, why can't the RCD and your so-called rival, the Mouvement de liberation congolais [MLC, led by Jean-Pierre Bemba] work together?
A: There is a move towards reconciliation which is progressing very well. Even before the meeting in Kabale [in Uganda, earlier this month] we had already been in contact with Bemba. The [Kabale] meeting was a success in that the RCD moved closer to the MLC. We even created a commission which will continue to work out how we can reconcile still further, how we can eventually work together, both militarily and diplomatically.
Q: There are also reports that your allies are divided, with Uganda supporting Wamba in Kisangani and Rwanda supporting the RCD in Goma? What is the current situation concerning your allies?
A: All I know is that the allies came to help us. To help the Congolese in this war. To support our struggle. And also to resolve some of their own problems. I don't think they came to support an individual. They cannot impose a leader upon us. There may be disagreements, between our units and Rwandan units and Ugandan units - that's completely normal. But these problems end up by being resolved, reason prevails.
Q: You have been invited to the next round of Lusaka peace talks. Are you optimistic? What do you think about attempts to reconcile the Lusaka and Sirte peace processes?
A: The Sirte accord has nothing to do with us. We were not invited, we were not informed, we were not associated, we were not consulted. Why superimpose these two accords? Why not just have one complete agreement? Regarding Lusaka, we are very optimistic but it depends on two things. Firstly, on Kabila himself. Lately, Kabila has said he is ready to disarm the Interahamwe but Rwanda must also disarm the rebellion. It's as if the rebellion belongs to Rwanda. Furthermore, it's as if he can deceive people into thinking he controls the Interahamwe. He doesn't control them. But even if that were the case, rather than laying down those sorts of conditions, he can just stay with his Interahamwe, we will remain with our allies and we'll fight.
Secondly, it depends also on the organisers, the mediators. On whether they decide to direct proceedings towards finding a compromise that is acceptable to all sides. That means not favouring the interests of one side, not favouring Kabila or Kinshasa. The interests of all sides have to be taken into account. Then, I think it can work. We don't want to put ourselves in the place of Kabila, we want our own place. We want to be recognised as a liberation movement. We do not need to be recognised as head of state.
Q: If an accord is reached, are you really ready to cease fire as you seem to be making gains on the battlefield? How can you stop now?
A: If we sign this accord, we will be bound by it. We will respect it. But all the conditions must come together. The sides must agree so that the accord can be signed. If we have to reach agreement to attain a ceasefire, it's so that we can negotiate the fundamental problems of our country. The ceasefire is not the end of the war. We stop the fire, but we don't extinguish it! If, during these discussions, there is no accord, that presupposes the fire resumes.
Q: Do you think the end of the war is near?
A: I think it's too early to predict what will happen. We want negotiations because a military victory is not necessarily the solution. We believe in a political solution which is why we made ourselves available. This is why we even agreed to proximity talks. At times, it was very humiliating but this was the price to pay for peace. But this business of proximity talks - never again! Either you want to meet us, hear what we have to say, or you don't want to listen to us. In that case, go and discuss among yourselves. But never again will we take part in proximity meetings.
Q: How do you see the future of Congo? Do you want a separate Kivu?
A: What separate Kivu? We have no need for that. We need all of Congo. The RCD has already opted for federalism. A separate Kivu, the 'dominance' of Tutsis, all that is a lie upon which attempts are made to build an ideology. Anyway, we'll see. At the negotiating table.
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Copyright (c) UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs 1999
Editor: Dr. Ali B. Ali-Dinar, Ph.D
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