By: Dr David Himbara
A photograph of General Paul Kagame holding hands with DR Congo’s head of state, Félix Tshisekedi, on December 8, 2019, signalled the bromance of the two men. Fast forward to May 17, 2021 when Kagame denounced the 2010 UN Mapping Report that established the atrocities committed by his military in DR Congo since 1996. Kagame also slandered the Congolese Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, Dr. Denis Mukwege, who is seeking justice for the victims of Kagame’s armies. Kagame’s unhinged utterances proved to be too much for Tshisekedi. The Congolese leader lectured Kagame on the imperative of a thorough investigation to determine who committed the atrocities in DR Congo. Tshisekedi is no longer Kagame’s puppet.
Back in 2019, General Paul Kagame was sure that he had found a new puppet – the Domestic Republic of Congo’s (DRC) head of state Félix Tshisekedi. Kagame and his puppet were even holding hands at the Kusi Ideas Festival, held in Kigali, Rwanda, on December 8, 2019. This image was shocking to anyone old enough to remember the recent Rwanda-DRC history. Kagame’s armies repeatedly invaded and occupied that country since 1996, causing all manner of human and material losses. The UN DRC Mapping Human Rights Violations 1993 – 2003 Report was the most extensive investigation of the horrors unleashed by Rwandan armies in DRC. The mapping team’s 550-page report called for further investigations because the gross violations of human rights abuses committed by the Rwandans pointed to a possible genocide. But here was Félix Tshisekedi holding Kagame’s hands as if Tshisekedi did not know what the Rwandan strongman had done to the people of Congo and Rwandan refugees in that country.
The Kagame-Tshisekedi is over, thanks to Kagame’s utterances on the UN Mapping Report. On May 17, 2021, Kagame had the audacity to tell France24 in Paris that “there were no crimes [in eastern DR Congo] – not by the individuals talked about or by the countries talked about”. Kagame made another unhinged utterance on the matter. According to him, the Congolese Nobel peace prize laureate, Denis Mukwege, who advocates for justice for the victims cited in the UN Mapping Report, is a “tool of these forces you don’t get to see… he’s told what to say that will influence people’s opinion”.
Kagame’s deranged utterances pushed Tshisekedi to the edge. In an interview with the AFP News Agency on May 19, 2021, the Congolese head of state asserted that justice is overdue for all the victims who lost lives per UN Mapping Report. He also pointed out that even those accused of committing atrocities in DRC can only be cleared by a proper investigation. As he explained, “So for me, it would be a positive attitude for President Kagame to co-operate on that, because at this stage there’s no condemnation yet…and if those he defends are innocent, justice will clear them.” Tshisekedi was not yet done – he described Dr Mukwege as “a national pride…for his work for the victims.” Put another way, Tshisekedi has sharply rebuked Kagame by supporting the UN Mapping Report and its call for deeper investigations to determine whether or not Rwanda committed genocide in DRC. Tshisekedi is no longer a Kagame puppet.