October 3, 2019

Trial Of Suspected Rebels Proves Our Culture Of War Is Still Alive

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The suspects appeared before a military court, but all were in civilian clothing

Yesterday, 2 October, 25 individuals suspected of being rebels of the Rwanda National Congress (RNC) were produced in a military court to answer varying charges─ including forming an armed group and plotting to overthrow an elected government.

The suspect include a former Rwanda Defense Forces (RDF) senior officer, Maj (rtd) Habib Mudathir who was shot and reportedly captured by Congolese soldiers in DR Congo’s jungles and extradited to Rwanda to face trial.

The capture in the DRC and trial of these suspected RNC rebels confirms UN Group of Expert Report’s revelation in December last year that an armed group called “P5” was actively recruiting fighters in the region and that it is led by former RDF Chief Lt. Gen Kayumba Nyamwasa.

The capture also renders credence to the Government of Rwanda’s long-held view that RNC, whose leader is based in South Africa, is pursuing violent destabilization of the country and that it should be stopped.

It is then fitting that these individuals should have their day in the courts of law.

The extradition and trial also shows what collaboration and cooperation between neighbors can deliver, and the DRC Government should be hailed for their act of good neighborliness.

However, the capture and trial of these individuals also remind us about another critical and uncomfortable truth: As a country and a people, we are yet to defeat the culture of war and violence that has defined the country since the pogroms of 1959 and consequent mass exile; suffering and genocide.

Yes, there has been tremendous progress since the end of genocide in 1994 and the RPF-led government has reunited the country again, set in motion the reconciliation process and got the country back on the development trajectory.

However, we haven’t yet, as a nation, exorcised the logic of war and violence as means to settle differences and disagreements.

In fact, as these trials go on, for example, there are at least three active rebel groups fighting the government. These include FDLR, FLN and Kayumba’s “P5”. All of them are based in the DRC.

That we have spent 60 years since 1959 and 25 years since the end of the genocide against Tutsis, without defeating the culture of war as a means to settle disagreements, requires all Rwandans, especially those in authority to reflect on WHY. And find enduring solutions.

The persistence of the culture of war and violence suggests that, perhaps, the root causes of this logic and what fuels it, hasn’t yet been fully addressed.

At The Chronicles, we believe in peaceful resolution of differences and disagreements. We call upon all Rwandans, especially the youth who are always used in these wars, to embrace the culture of peace; for war is folly and destructive.

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