Rais KikweteRais Kagame

11th August 2013

Relations between Tanzania and Rwanda are still at the crossroads, despite the soft diplomatic tones taken by both countries in the past few days, the Guardian on Sunday has learnt.

While President Kikwete last week assured Rwanda that the two countries needed each other, and that his government was committed to cordial ties with Kigali, the latter seemed to be puzzled by what has been described as the “unpredictability” of the Dar es Salaam regime.

In reaction to President Kikwete’s speech, as well as the eviction of illegal immigrants, Rwandese Foreign Affairs Minister Louis Mushikiwabo took a soft diplomatic tone. But behind the scenes, the relations between the two countries remain worse than portrayed.

Though the Rwandese foreign affairs minister and government spokesman on Thursday reassured Tanzanians living in Rwanda to feel at home despite the latest developments, sources within the Kigali regime told the Guardian on Sunday that “more diplomatic efforts” were still needed to save the strained relations between the two countries, both of them members of the East African Community (EAC).

Though both sides aren’t willing to admit publicly about tbe real cause of the current situation, the Guardian on Sunday has reliably established that the Democratic Republic of Congo is the source of misunderstanding between the two countries.

The Rwanda regime is reportedly unhappy with Tanzania’s move to send troops to the war-torn Kivu province under the umbrella of the Southern African Development Community(SADC), The Guardian on Sunday has established.

Rwanda’s stand was that the issue be resolved through the Kampala peace talks, which was an initiative of the heads of state of Great Lakes region under the chair of Uganda’s President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni.

“We were shocked to see that SADC through its Defence and Security Committee chaired by Tanzania can discuss with a non-member country like Rwanda and issue a joint communiqué without inviting us as a concerned party,” a senior official from the inner circle of the Rwandese top administration told the Guardian on Sunday over the phone.

“As if that wasn’t enough, the same country that has dispatched its troops to the Congo urged Rwanda to initiate peace talks with the Forces for Democratic Liberation of Rwanda(FDLR) … which was involved in the genocide against Tutsi and moderate Hutus,” the official who declined to be named because he isn’t the authorized spokesperson for the Rwandese government told the Guardian on Sunday this week.

FDLR rose from the ashes of the 1994 genocide to form a strong Hutu extremist army, which then transformed itself into a political party with a mission to oust the Kagame regime “at any cost through the barrel of a gun.”

Though United Nations monitoring group in July, this year, released a report saying the FDLR, a Hutu group opposed to the Tutsi-led Rwandan government, has also “continued to weaken” during the first half of this year, the Rwandan regime sees the Hutu rebels as their biggest threat.
But Tanzania on its part has strongly defended its position to send troops into the Congo’s troubled Kivu Province, saying the move was aimed at restoring calmness and protecting innocent civilians following the rising of the M23 rebels, which mutinied against the Congolese national army, FARDC, early last year.

According to details gathered by the Guardian on Sunday, the Kigali regime sees Tanzania as “partisan” to the Congo issue, saying the latter has sided with the regime in Kinshasa. The Kigali regime claims it has evidence to prove that FDLR has been funded and used by Kishasa as a proxy army against Rwanda for the past decade.

These claims were backed by a recent report of the UN monitoring group released in July as well as confessions by one of top FDLR leaders who told the German court that the Kinshasa regime had sponsored the founding congress of the Hutu rebel movement.

Appearing before the provincial court in the German city of Stuttgart on Monday, this week, Straton Musoni, the incarcerated FDLR vice-president said Kinshasa had played a major role in organizing the group’s first meeting which convened in Lubumbashi, DRC’s second largest city, in May, 2000.

On July 16, this year, just weeks after the UN report came out, Rwanda officially accused the newly-deployed Force Intervention Brigade (FIB), under the UN Stabilisation Mission in the Congo (Monusco), of backing collaboration between DR Congo-based Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda militia (FDLR) and the Congolese army.

The accusations are contained in a letter that Rwanda's UN Ambassador Eugene-Richard Gasana wrote to US Ambassador Rosemary DiCarlo in her role as this month's president of the UN Security Council.

The Guardian on Sunday has established that apart from the Congo crisis, the Rwandan regime was also puzzled by what it termed the “Kayumba Nyamwasa” affair.

Kigali believes that when it fell out with General Kayumba Nyamwasa who was the Chief of Staff of Rwandese Defence Forces (RDF), the latter escaped from Rwanda and spent some days in Dar es Salaam -- before flying to South Africa where he was given asylum.

According to reliable sources within the Rwandese regime, Kigali wasn’t happy with the way the man it seen as a dissident was hosted and entertained by some top government officials in Tanzania.

But an official from the Tanzania government dismissed such fears from Kigali, saying there was no official request from Rwanda notifying Dar es Salaam that General Nyamwasa was a ‘wanted man’.

General Kayumba has formed a political party to fight his former boss, and he is currently living in South Africa where he was given asylum some years ago.

President Kikwete’s speech

After two months of diplomatic tension and verbal slurs between leaders of the two countries, President Kikwete last week assured Rwandese that Tanzania’s cordial relations would tarnished by what transpired recently.

The president admitted that the good relations between the two neighbouring nations had gone through difficult times over the past two months following remarks he issued in Addis Ababa in May advising the Kigali regime to negotiate with Hutu rebel Forces for the Democratic Liberation of Rwanda.

“During the past two months our relations with Rwanda have undergone difficulties … the reactions and statements of some Rwandan leaders against me and our country were clear evidence of the current situation, President Kikwete told the nation in his monthly speech yesterday.

The president said, “I would like to assure my fellow Tanzanians and our brothers from Rwanda that I, the government that I lead and the people of Tanzania are willing to maintain the good relations we have had with Rwanda … as we do with all our neighbours.

“I would like to insist that I, and the government that I lead will be the last to do any bad things against Rwanda or any neighbouring country … we have no reason to do so because those are things that won’t profit our nation,” the president said, adding that his advice to the Rwandan government was made in good faith.

But these reassuring words seem to have fallen on skeptical and still suspicious ears on the other side.

“One day there’s tough talking …. indicating war between the two countries … but the very next day you hear there’s no conflict… at the same time you have Rwandese being repatriated because they are illegal immigrants.

‘We don’t know exactly what to believe,” a senior official from the inner circle of the Rwandese top administration told the Guardian on Sunday over the phone.

The official added: “We are tempted to trust President Kikwete’s assuranceS, but we are still at the crossroads because of Tanzania’s unpredictability and hostility towards Rwanda.

“Yes, there are illegal immigrants in Tanzania … but the timing is what casts more doubts … the issue of illegal immigrants is coming at a time when our relations are shaken,” the official who was born, raised and educated in Tanzania up to university level before returning to his country in 1990s, further told the Guardian on Sunday.

“Our concern is that the operation might affect even those who have been in your country for years and have valid permits … we expected our Tanzanian brothers to contact us so that we could conduct a joint operation as good neighbours … but that didn’t happen,” he added.

In January, this year, an opposition leader wrote a letter to the Minister for Defence and National Service, Shamsi Vuai Nahodha, in which he claimed that Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame had dispatched 35,000 illegal immigrants from Tanzania in his bid to form the so-called “Tutsi Empire”.

The letter was later leaked to the social media, sparking a tough debate with many commentators calling for the Tanzanian government to act on the grave allegations contained in that letter.

But Rwanda dispatched its genocide researchers to translate the letter into Kinyarwanda and English languages as well as investigating the real author of the document.

The Guardian on Sunday has established that the Rwandan government after a long time investigation concluded that the letter was written by the so-called genocide suspects but used the opposition leader as a cover-up.

“The issue here wasn’t just illegal immigrants but President Kagame and Tutsis … if you read it between the lines, the language resembles the one used some years before the 1994 genocide,” a senior official from the Rwandan embassy told the Guardian on Sunday.

Efforts by the The Guardian on Sunday’s to get President Kagame’s views following the speech by his counterpart last week failed after his spokeswoman Yolanda Makolo declined to give the official position of her boss.

The Guardian on Sunday also tried several times to contact the country’s foreign affairs minister through her mobile phone but her phone kept ringing for days without an answer.

Meanwhile the Rwandan newspaper, the New Times yesterday reported that more than 500 Rwandans who had lived in Tanzania for years on Friday arrived at the Rusumo border post in Rwanda, leaving behind their families and property in Karagwe district.

According to the New Times, yesterday’s arrivals pushed the number of such returnees to 1,000 after President Kikwete issued a fourteen-day ultimatum to those he termed as ‘illigal immigrants’ to leave the country.

President Kikwete’s deadline expired on Friday.

Quoting some of the evictees, the New Times of Rwanda reported that Tanzanian security personnel, including the army and police, as well as neighbours were combing the communities ordering everyone they perceive to be of Rwandan origin out of the country.

According to the New Times, some of the victims had lived in the East African country for more than 50 years.

Tanzanian authorities claim they are targeting those without ‘valid residential documents’ but some of those affected claim they had all the necessary documents – some alleged security agents had confiscated and destroyed them, reported the New Times.

At the Rusumo border post, the New Times claimed that visibly distressed mothers, children and elderly men arrived with mattresses, clothes and other household belongings. Most of them said they were not given a chance to sell off their property, especially land and cattle.

They said they were being targeted as Rwandans though Tanzanian officials at the border said the decision applied to all illegal immigrants in the country.

Some of the returnees had intermarried with Tanzanians but they were not spared either, claimed the New Times of Rwanda.

“I have left my seven children behind… My parents fled from Rwanda in 1959, I grew up in Tanzania and I got married to a Tanzanian. Yet they have not been considerate, they picked me out in the family and asked me to leave simply because I have Rwandan roots. This is so unfair and inhumane,” a weeping Mukarugwiza Kabudensiya was quoted by the New Times of Rwanda, as asaying.

The 60-year old, who was evicted from Karagwe district, said she was too afraid for her children too. She said she cannot bear the pain of being separated from her family in a matter of days.

Kabudensiya knows no relative in Rwanda.

According to the Rwandan newspaper, it was total chaos during the expulsions, with security forces and locals killing their cattle and threatening whoever planned to stand in their way.
It also turned out that some of the victims are actually Tanzanians by birth.

The Guardian on Sunday couldn’t independently verify these claims, after efforts to contact senior immigration officers in Kagera region proved futile.

“My father is a Tanzanian from the Banyambo tribe and my mother is Rwandan. My father died and I have never been to Rwanda before. I don’t know why I am being persecuted by my compatriots,” The New Times quoting a 23-year old man, who only identified himself as Emanuel, reported on Saturday.

He spoke in Kiswahili and does not understand Kinyarwanda, the newspaper further reported
Emanuel Maherane, a senior official at the Tanzanian immigration office at the border, was quoted by the Rwandan newspaper saying the eviction targeted all illegal migrants, and not only Rwandans.

“Their residence permits expired and they have no right to remain in Tanzania. We have expelled Burundians, Ugandans, Rwandans, and even whites,” the immigration official was quoted by the New Times of Rwanda.

“This is an internal issue … we don’t need to inform anybody … it’s a Tanzanian affair,” the New Times quoted the Tanzanian immigration official, as saying.

Maherane added: “Whether you have been around for 70 years, or whether you are married or not, our laws are clear … it’s not about how much time you have lived in Tanzania or who you are married to.”

The returnees said they were caught unawares and that their eviction came immediately after President Kikwete visited the region a few days ago.

Emanuel Mpakaniye, a returnee, dismissed the suggestion that only illegal immigrants had been expelled.

“I had a residential permit and all the other necessary documents but I was banished,” he said.
On the Rwandan side of the border, officials and volunteers were putting up tents to help resettle the returnees in Kiyanzi transit centre, in Eastern Province.

“We are providing those who are returning basic needs like water, food and temporary shelter. We are also transporting those who happen to have relatives in different parts of the country,” Jean Claude Rwahama, the director of refugee affairs in the Ministry of Disaster Management and Refugee Affairs, said.

He said government would provide shelter to those without relatives in the country. It is expected that an estimated 20,000 people, may be on their way to Rwanda.

On Thursday, foreign affairs minister and government spokesperson, Louise Mushikiwabo, reassured Tanzanians living in Rwanda to feel at home despite the latest developments.

Source: Guardian on Sunday, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania