Rwanda and Uganda's M23 are terrorists, not 'Congo rebels,' says Allimadi
Headlines still refer to the M23 militia as "Congo rebels," even though many now report that M23 are "supported by Rwanda and Uganda" and that Rwandan Defense Minister James Kabarebe is at the top of their command structure. Black Star News Editor Milton Allimadi told KPFA that, "Media organizations that continue to refer to them as rebels are in fact colluding in this violent criminal enterprise against the people of Congo."
KPFA News Anchor Cameron Jones: Last week, the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s President Joseph Kabila, met with Rwandan President Paul Kagame and Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni in Kampala, Uganda’s capital, for peace talks, even though Kagame and Museveni continue to insist that they have nothing to do with the M23 militia that took control of Goma, the minerals trading hub and capital of Congo’s eastern North Kivu Province, which borders both Rwanda and Uganda.
Kagame and Museveni were then widely reported to be willing to withdraw the M23 militia from Goma, if President Kabila would negotiate with M23 directly, instead of continuing to insist that he would negotiate only with the real aggressor, Rwanda.
In another curious courtesy, President Kagame and Museveni promised President Kabila not to ovethrow his government. President Kagame then called on the international community to help end the conflict in Congo, despite the UN report which says that his own Defense Minister is M23’s military commander. KPFA’s Ann Garrison spoke with Ugandan American Milton Allimadi, Editor of the New York City-based Black Star News.
KPFA/Ann Garrison: Milton Allimadi, several hours ago Bloomberg News came out with a headline that says “Rwanda calls for international support to end Congo rebellion.” Would you like to comment?
Milton Allimadi: It fits within their strategy. The attack on Goma launched by M23, which is actually a special unit of Rwanda’s own army, since it’s commanded by Rwanda’s Minister of Defense, General James Kabarebe, according to the UN report. So this is a strategy. Rwanda is now trying to pretend it has nothing to do with the attack on Goma. That is why it’s calling for quote unquote “international support” in helping to resolve a crisis which it in fact instigated, to divert attention away from the UN report, which was released this week, two days after Rwanda’s attack on Goma. It’s a strategy. It’s a ploy. It’s cynical.
KPFA/Ann Garrison: M23 and other militias fighting in Congo are often called rebels. They’re almost always called rebels, which implies that they are freedom fighters against a repressive government. Could you speak to this and suggest a better way of describing this?
Milton Allimadi: They are absolutely a terrorist organization, committing crimes against the Congolese people, against women, against children, even infants. This information is widely available, widely known, well documented by the United Nations in their reports. Media organizations that continue to refer to them as rebels are in fact colluding in this violent criminal enterprise against the people of Congo. They’re not rebels. They are a special unit of Rwanda’s army. The UN report shows that the nominal leader Bosco Ntaganda in fact reports to Rwanda’s Chief of Staff, who in turn reports to the Defense Minister, General Kabarebe, who of course reports to the president Paul Kagame.
KPFA/Ann Garrison: Would you like to say something about Uganda’s involvement?
Milton Allimadi: Uganda has always been involved in the atrocities in the Congo. This is nothing new. The UN report released this week found that Bosco Ntaganda, the nominal leader of M23, reports directly to Uganda’s special presidential advisor on military affairs, who is General Salim Saleh, the brother of President General Museveni. And he also reports to the Police Chief of Uganda, General Kayihura. In fact, even though he’s banned from traveling, he travels freely to Uganda, according to the UN Report, and he has bought a house for his family in Uganda. If the UN report is to be followed to its logical conclusion, not only should Ntaganda be prosecuted but also his military commanders within Rwanda, leading all the way to the the Defense Minister, and to General Kagame, the president. And in Uganda, the police chief, the special presidential advisor to General Museveni, and General Museveni himself should all be prosecuted.
KPFA/Ann Garrison: There is some obvious awkwardness in the European powers claiming the moral authority to indict, arrest and prosecute African dictators.
Milton Allimadi: That’s an issue that needs to be dealt with at another time. The fact of the matter is they need to be prosecuted and right now the only international legal entity that can prosecute them is the International Criminal Court.
KPFA/Ann Garrison: For Pacifica, KPFA and AfrobeatRadio, I’m Ann Garrison.