The President of the Republic of Rwanda, H.E. Paul Kagame has stressed that dealing with the continued threat of ex-FAR/Interahamwe in the Democratic Republic of Congo is critical for peace and security in the Great Lakes region.
President Kagame was addressing the United States Institute of Peace in Washington DC on Thursday morning on the topic; ‘The current prospects for peace in the Great Lakes region.’
Kagame said that dealing with ex-FAR/Interahamwe “effectively and decisively,” as the central problem of armed conflict in the region, is critical to the region’s shift from war to peace. He, however, noted that the prospects for peace had improved in the last two years, and new developments needed to be “well handled, consolidated, and supported, to offer a new impetus to security, peace, stability and prosperity in our region.”
Kagame said that after signing the Pretoria Agreement, Rwanda had honoured its obligations by withdrawing all its troops from the DRC. “We remain hopeful that the other signatory to the Pretoria agreement, the Government of the DRC, will similarly honour its part of the deal, relating to the disarmament, demobilisation, repatriation, and reintegration of ex-FAR and Interahamwe,” he said.
President Kagame said that in order for peace efforts to take root in the region, parties to peace settlements need to realise that peace benefits all people, and the international community should actively play its part by contributing to the implementation of the peace accords.
Kagame said that it should also be recognized that the ideology of genocide, whose historical origins can be traced to the colonial times, seems to have acquired new converts. He said the prospect of long-term peace, cannot be limited to just the absence of war, or even narrowly focused on the Great Lakes region, turbulent as it has been in recent history.
President Kagame also stressed the importance of Africa investing in conflict prevention measures. “In the Great Lakes region and in the whole of Africa in general, we have got to invest in early warning systems, in preventive measures, and in peace-enhancing processes across various aspects of national life: Government, private sector and civil society,” he said.
He added, “We must be resolute in promoting attributes of nationhood, giving prominence to the common denominator of culture, language and a sense of community that characterised earlier periods of our history. Africa must make a choice to be a place where the rule of law – and not the laws of the jungle – blossoms because Africans, like all human beings, must have equal protection by the law. Besides, Africa stands to gain when there exist enforceable rules and laws, where a degree of certainty is conferred on trade and investment transactions, in a transparent and accountable framework.”
Focusing on Rwanda, President Kagame said that the Government continues to register an impressive record of achievement in uniting and reconciling the Rwandan people; creating a new basis for the rule of law and putting a halt to a culture of impunity that climaxed into genocide; establishing new parameters of inclusive governance, decentralisation, democratisation and constitutional order; consolidating economic reforms in the struggle against poverty and underdevelopment; as well as creating conditions for a secure and stable environment nationally and regionally.
The event, which was chaired by the Chairman of the Board of the US Institute for Peace Dr. Chester Crocker, was attended by US Government leaders, academics and representatives of NGOs.
The US Institute for Peace was established by the US Congress and aims to mobilize national and international talent to develop creative policy-relevant assessments of how to manage international conflicts by peaceful means, and to facilitate resolution of international disputes through dialogue. The institute also provides training in international affairs and conflict resolution techniques. This is the second time President Kagame is addressing the institute, the first time being in 2001.