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« La Rdc pacifiée peut être le moteur du développement de la Région des Grands Lacs »

Interview de Joseph Kabila au Financial Times, 24 juin 2004

Le journal boursier londonien The Financial Times a publié une longue et exclusive interview lui accordée par le Président de la RDC, le Général-Major Joseph Kabila. La traduction de cette interview, réalisée par Antoine Lokongo, a été publiée sur le site de Vous pouvez consultez cette traduction en cliquant içi Nous publions ci-dessous le texte en Anglais.

Financial Times June 23 2004 18:12

William Wallis, our Nairobi correspondent and David Lewis of Reuters news agency speak with President Kabila, as a fresh insurgency in the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo threatens to derail the country's year-old peace process. Here are edited highlights.

The question everyone is asking themselves is whether the transitional power-sharing government can survive this current crisis?
The transition has survived for the last 12 months. Of course this is one of the worst situations we have encountered during those 12 months. But since the beginning I have stated that it was not going to be a honeymoon. We were bound to encounter obstacles. The most important thing is how we deal with those obstacles. We are either going to avoid them or we are going to bulldoze them.

At the moment it looks like you've chosen to bulldoze them.
Well it could be a bulldozing path. But whatever the solution, the important thing is that the transition must stay in place and that we attain the objectives we set.

Do the power sharing agreements of Congo's peace accords need to be adjusted or renegotiated in order for them to withstand this crisis?
It took us three years to negotiate what we have put in place. Of course, when we were negotiating, the objectives were to find a solution to a given problem. That given problem was the division of the Congo into two or three areas. The solution was to bring everybody together, so it was a power sharing agreement that was signed. Nobody thought that these institutions could be perfect institutions. But the solution is not to play around with the structures that we have. The solution is to give more speed to the structures that we have, to make it such that politicians within these structures are more determined to achieve their goals.

But there seem to be groups ranged on all sides, both inside Congo and outside, who want to derail the process?
It was to be expected. In this part of the transition, there will be losers and there will be winners. Let it not be that the winners take all. That's not what we want. We were bound to encounter people that were going to be against the transitional institutions- that was the test. There were people who did not want to sign (up for peace), but those are elements that I want to minimise.

Are they not getting the upper hand as we speak?
No, not at all. They can never get the upper hand. I believe that 99% of the Congolese people want the institutions to succeed. By the success of the institutions, I mean the organisation of elections (due in 2005). That one per cent we can crush them.

There are people in the east of the country, in Goma, who have refused to swear allegiance to Kinshasa. Do they constitute part of the 1 per cent?
I wouldn't like to point to Goma in particular. I'd like to point at individuals. There are of course individuals who would like to go back to the good old days when they were the masters, where the confusion that was being entertained allowed them to profit as individuals and not necessarily as a people. Those elements are there.

Do you believe that the current crisis (sparked when renegade ethnic Tutsi commander Gen Nkunda occupied the eastern town of Bukavu) has been partly orchestrated by Rwanda, across the border?
The government has clearly stated from day one that the attacks on Bukavu were not only an orchestration from Rwanda but those attacks were assisted militarily by Rwanda. These are hard facts and these are reports that not only come from the population. They also come from the UN.

Do you think at this stage that a war with Gen Nkunda and possibly with Rwanda, is avoidable?
We have never wanted to fight a war with Rwanda. It's not in our interests. It's not in the interests of our people. It's not in the interests of the region. With Nkunda, the government has stated clearly that either he surrenders his arms and himself so that he goes to a military tribunal, or we will deal with him militarily. If dealing with Nkunda militarily means dealing militarily with Rwanda, that's something else.

Why has it been so difficult for Congo to deal with the Rwandan Hutu militia threat in the east of the country? (The Hutu and " interahamwe" militia based in eastern Congo, some of whom participated in the 1994 genocide in Rwanda, and that have served as Rwanda's principle justification for the invasion of Congo in 1998 )
Well, lets go back to the signing of the agreement in Pretoria. Since then, and these are figures from the UN, I believe that over 15,000 of these ex FAR have been repatriated to Rwanda. Those efforts were ongoing until Mutebusi (another insurgent) started his adventures and until Nkunda started his adventures. Our commitment to disarming these people and their eventual repatriation under UN auspices is still the principle that we intend to respect. But let's look at the reality. How do you go after the Interahamwe when you have Nkunda and Mutebusi making trouble? One of the conditions for us to take care of the ex FAR or any of these threats is that the situation in Bukavu, or South Kivu must be calm.
I have heard reports of the Congo sending 10,000 men to the east to fight Rwanda. No, we are sending 10,000 men to the east to retake control of areas like Kamanyola (scene of fighting) yesterday and eventually resolve the situation with Nkunda. Later these troops will stay in the area to deal with the threat of ex FAR (Forces Armees Rwandaises) and any other armed groups in the area.

There are reports that pro government forces are now mobilising these Rwandan Hutu militia (as allies)?
It's not in our interests to deal with ex FAR or any other groups. The Congo has 60m inhabitants. Nobody is going to tell me that the Congolese people cannot organise themselves, and put in place an army to deal with a situation and that we have to go around looking for 1,000, or 3,000 ex FAR. That's truly an insult We want to get our hands on them to send them back to their country of origin. So, if there have been any contact, it could have been in that sense. Of course now the situation is very clear. Now that we have UN observers on the ground, its now not only going to be our word against that of Rwanda, we've got a neutral partner in MONUC (the UN mission to Congo).

Are you disappointed in the way MONUC has performed. Is it able to do its job?
It depends on how you look at the situation. I believe that the events of the past three or four weeks have been quite important in raising the awareness of MONUC. It has woken them up to realise that the situation was as serious as we were always telling them. When we were saying there were going to be incursions (from Rwanda), that the situation wasn't stable, everybody thought these were just Congolese, panicking. But things have happened and MONUC is aware that the expectations of the people of Congo were not met and that in the future they have to meet those expectations. In order for them to do that, MONUC might need more men on the ground, more equipment, more material, more intelligence info and clear priorities on how they have to operate . Because without clear objectives, they will be doing 100 things at the same time: they will be purifying water, they will be building roads instead of having clear priorities.

Some people say the same thing about the presidency. That your objectives have been lost and, as a result, you and your government, have lost the confidence of the people?
I don't believe that we have really lost the confidence of the people. I believe that we have made quite a number of mistakes over the last year and we have to learn from those mistakes. And I believe that we have the capacity to do much better. But we have not lost focus on our objectives. As far as I am concerned, the objectives are four total reunification, the pacification of the country, reconciliation and, of course, elections.
Now if we go into the details of the reunification I believe that 90 percent of the country has been reunified. Today you can go to Goma come back to Kinshasa to Kindu to Gbadolite and to everywhere else. So the country is reunified administratively with the governors and vice governors in place, with the police force that is under restructuring with the programme for the integration of the army adopted and is under way. So slowly but surely we are moving forward. As far as pacification is concerned we have got three major hotspots. Ituri is one of those. Another hotspot is the two Kivus (eastern provinces). The other hotspot is north of KatangaOur plan has always been to deal with these hotspots one by one.

Some people say another hotspot is in your own entourage? That the presidency is threatened from within.
I personally don't believe so. We have had one incident which should not have happened (an alleged coup attempt on June 11th) and steps are under way in order to prevent such an incident happening again.

Are more heads going to roll?
I wouldn't talk of heads rolling. I would talk of restructuring. We have to restructure. My intentions are to make tomorrow a better day. If that means that people should be changed, if that means people should be made more responsible, then that's exactly what is going to happen.

You talked about neighbouring countries meddling in Congo's affairs. Is there a need for neighbouring countries to support the peace process more actively?
More actively in a positive sense yes. Some of them are supporting the process more actively in a very negative sense. After all this is an African process. After all this is an example for the continent. If we succeed, then very many other African countries can succeed. I am not only talking of the Congo I am talking of Cote d'Ivoire, I am talking of Somalia, I am talking of Darfur. The success of this particular process will definitely be a success for the whole region. All our neighbours have a stake in what is happening today. They all have to gain just like the Congolese people have to gain from this particular project.

Do you have their support militarily in this tense period. There is talk of Tanzanian troops coming in to assist, that the Angolans are waiting in the sidelines?
For the time being those are just rumours. There are so many rumours in this country. Sometimes I just close my ears. For the time being no. But of course there are quite a lot of initiatives as far as the support of the integration process of the army is concerned. We signed an agreement recently with South Africa supporting that process. We will sign in the coming days an agreement with Angola in the same sense. We have signed an agreement with the Belgians. We will be signing with other countries who are ready to assist in so far as the reintegration of the army is concerned and the retraining of our army. For the time being informations about the Tanzanians being here is one big lie.

Are there not signs that the crisis is becoming regionalized again? Given that Rwanda has also moved troops towards its border.
We should not arrive at a situation like we had in 1998 (when 7 African armies were sucked into Congo's war). That's not our intentions. Everybody has a stake in what happens in the Congo and they want to see peace in the Congo.

Do you think Rwanda wants to see peace in the Congo?
I think that question would be better answered by President Kagame who I will be meeting in a few days time. I would want to believe that Rwanda also wants peace.

What are you going to tell President Kagame?
What is he going to tell me? That is the question. Because the situation is just as clear as I have put it on the table. I want everybody to know that the Congo since independence has been undergoing very hard times. We thought in 1997 that we had seen the worst, but 1998 proved that wrong. 2001 we started this very long process with very humble objectives and we want to reach the final stage: elections.
I believe these are noble objectives that the whole world should support. Our intentions will always be to live in peace with our 9 neighbours. Our intention will always to be the source of development in the Great Lakes region and the Congo has the capacity to be that, it has the resources to do that. What has always been lacking has been the peace, and the direction. Currently we have got the direction. We are now looking for the peace and the contribution of each and everyone is very much welcome