The US has come out strongly against the Rwandan regime's support for M23, a new rebel group in eastern DR Congo (DRC). Burundian author, Nestor Bidadanure argues that claims made by US Office of Global Criminal Justice official, Stephen Rapp, that Rwanda's leadership could face prosecution were "excessive".
The Africa Report: Rwanda has accused the international community of double standards. Is there some truth to that, given support to rebels from Libya to Syria by Western and other powers?
Nestor Bidadanure: Rwanda faces an ongoing threat since the 1994 genocide that it needs to respond to. The Forces Démocratiques de Libération du Rwanda (FDLR) are based in eastern Congo and still constitute a threatening economic and military power.
M23 fight the FDLR and demand that all the Rwandese-speaking Congolese refugees be able to return home and be protected. This makes M23 an objective ally for Rwanda.
Given the security threats faced and the rapidity of the sanctions imposed on Rwanda, we can say there are indeed double standards in the way security is being approached in the world. The threat that Rwanda is facing is not distant, it is right on its border!
Was Stephen Rapp from the US Office of Global Criminal Justice right to say that Rwanda's leadership could face prosecution?
Ambassador Stephen Rapp's claims were excessive. He drew on the reports of the UN mission to the DRC and some non-governmental organisations who accused Rwanda of supporting M23.
But should supporting rebel groups for security reasons be answered by international condemnation and the withdrawing of all aid?
We should wait for the complementary investigations to know the truth, especially given that Rwanda has categorically rejected such accusations.
How might the US act to help solve the eastern Congo violence?
The USA can support the African Union to take the bull by the horns and neutralise the FDLR. The states and peoples of the region would be very supportive of such a contribution to peace. They can then negotiate fair economic partnerships in the region.
It would mark a new beginning in US-African politics. It would help minimise the suspicions of cynicism often attributed to American foreign policy, wrongly or rightly.
Rwandan defence minister James Kabarebe has spoken of a large international conspiracy to label Rwanda as the backer of M23. Is that credible?
Personally, I think that M23 does not need Rwanda to exist to lead its armed resistance against the power of Kinshasa. If Goma has not fallen under M23 leadership it is thanks to Rwandan pressures●
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