President Museveni's Remarks at the Joint SADC/ICGLR Summit in Pretoria

Tuesday 5th November 2013

As I said at the conference in Dar-es-salaam, the Congo problem in the last 50 years has comprised of the following elements:

  1. Lack of a legitimately elected Government until recently when H.E Kabila became the first elected leader of Congo ever since the murder of Patrice Lumumba in 1961;
  2. Poor internal management, especially a very indisciplined Army that habitually brutalizes the civilians and loots their property;
  3. Harbouring, by design or default, the enemies (reactionaries, genocidaires and terrorists) of neighboring countries such as Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and Angola;
  1. Formenting inter-ethnic tensions and hatred by pitting one group against another, including the denial of the citizenship of some of the ethnic groups such as the Banyamulenge
  2. Having a Euro-centric foreign policy and completely ignoring the Great Lakes Region under the belief that as long as European powers and the USA are supportive of what the Congo Government is doing (right or wrong), they did not have to bother with the region.


Three of these five were, essentially, internal problems. They affected the people of Congo most – those long suffering people – part of the great African people. It is the other two problems that transformed the Congo problem into the Great Lakes problem. These were: harbouring the reactionaries, terrorists and genocidaires from the neighbouring countries of Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and Angola as well as formenting ethnic conflicts among its own people, including the denial of the citizenship of some of them because some opportunists wanted to get electoral victory based on sectarianism.

It is these two that caused the downfall of Mobutu and some of the subsequent upheavals. Like the Burundi problem, even when the outsiders come in, efforts are expended to ensure that those who are knowledgeable are excluded from the problem solving process. In the case of Burundi, we successfully resisted those manouvres. That is how we were able to solve that problem.

Under the Lusaka process we had brought some peace leading to the formation of a unity Government and elections. Thereafter, the region pulled out and the Congolese parties with the UN continued. However, whatever efforts that were deployed did not eliminate the original problems - the presence on Congo territory of the genocidaires of Rwanda and terrorist


groups from neighbouring countries, such as ADF from Uganda, as well as tribal militias such as the Lendu militia, led by one Cobra, that had been terrorizing the people of Ituri since February, 2012, until recently when President Kabila’s Government dislodged them from some of the areas. I congratulate President Kabila for that effort.

When the new rebellion of M-23 broke out in April 2012, I was asked by the Secretary General of the UN and His Excellency Kabila to intervene and organize peace talks between the government of Congo and the rebels. When the talks started, the rebels had 21 grievances. These were:

  1. The question of the return of refugees.  They said that refugees did not return to their families;
  2. That displaced people were still in IDP Camps;
  3. That the integration of the soldiers of the CNDP in the army had not taken place or where it was done, it was done imperfectly;
  4. That all the armed groups had not become political parties;
  5. That amnesty did not take place;
  6. Recognition of their ranks had not been done;
  7. That the end of the crisis had political aspects, in particular integration into the institutions (Government, Embassy, Public Company)  which had not been done;
  1. That the  reconciliation programme had not been completed;
  2. That it had been agreed that part of CNDP soldiers would be transformed into a local Police Force to protect returned refugees and this had also not been done;

10.That the Government of the DRC should have  Concentrated on tracking of the negative forces which was not done or was carried out partially;

11.That after the agreements, the CNDP left the matter to the Government that did not carry out   its duty;

12. That the Government of the DRC resists the  operations against the negative forces;

13.60 ex-CNDP soldiers had been arrested and killed in Dungu, only one survived.  Another group that had  travelled to Kindu was sequestered and beaten, no          death was registered.  That the Government did not punish anybody and that this was a case of persistent impunity;

14.That the agreement suggested a follow-up Committee comprising of Presidents Mkapa and Obasanjo;

15.That soldiers’ wages were systematically diverted and in certain places not provided for at all;

16.Diversion of soldiers’ rations;

17.Bad social conditions of soldiers (no military infrastructure);

18.Discrimination of the East in customs payment;

19. They also alleged that the November 2011 election was rigged;

20.That President Kabila had, in 2006, promised much to the East but had forgotten his commitments;

21.That there was no big store or supermarket in the East of the DRC.

I, immediately, advised them very firmly to drop the extravagant demands about President Kabila resigning, the rigged elections, the underdevelopment of the country etc. I explained to them that by fighting they are making it impossible to address those very problems because whatever resources that are available are spent on war rather than on addressing those issues.

It was, at first, very difficult to convince those young people to stop fighting and come for these talks. Their main argument was that the Government of Congo was not genuine about the peace talks but was just buying time. I assured them that now that the region was involved, those underhand methods were out of the question – talking peace when you intend war. Even when they occupied Goma, we were able to convince them, or cajole them, into peacefully withdrawing from that town and the areas beyond.

Thereafter, I agreed with both the Congo Government and the rebels to concentrate on the narrower issues of amnesty, re-integration into the Army and Society, return of refugees and internally displaced people, their participation in governance etc

When I last met the rebels directly, they tried to link their disarmarment with the disarmament of the Interahamwe. I firmly told them that that was not correct. I told them to surrender their arms to the Intervention Brigade and be cantoned by them (the Brigade), so that they, UN and the Intervention Brigade, have time to disarm the Interahamwe and the other terrorist groups. If they failed to do that, after that, they would be the ones to carry the blame and the affected parties would have to find their own solutions. Those young people appeared to agree to that.

I asked the rebels about the shelling of Goma that had caused civilian deaths. They denied that they were responsible. They said that somebody else did it in order to manipulate the situation. I was, therefore, surprised to hear of the latest fighting that resulted into the Congo Government forces, the UN and the Intervention Brigade resuming full scale war against the rebels. Since, as the facilitator, I did not have any information or input in the evolution of the events, it creates a problem about which I will speak more in the closed session.

Otherwise, we had moved well. First of all, the creation of the Intervention Brigade that was ready to fight was a great improvement from the situation of the “terrorism conservation” that had been in existence eversince 2003 when the Lusaka effort was wound up. Secondly, the peace talks had been concluded with the M-23 because President Kabila and Dr. Kiyonga told me that the M-23 had agreed that none of them would seek, anymore, integration into the Congo Army.

After the fighting, Dr. Kiyonga told me that the rebels were still interested in the talks. I told him to invite Congo Government and the rebels back. Dr. Kiyonga has told me that the two delegations agreed. I am, however, informed that fighting was still going on yesterday.

Regardless of the way the Congo Government and its allies (the UN and the Intervention Brigade) want to handle the M-23 issue hereafter, the original problems remains – the enemies of neighbours on Congo territory and ethnic conflicts or tensions within the Congo. These will have to be addressed now.

Unfortunately, the pro-Congo Government forces fired into Uganda twice – by machine gun and helicopter bombs injuring 10 people, one of whom has since died. Who did this and for what purpose Did Uganda deserve this? I hope nobody will repeat this. Uganda is now hosting 155,000 Congolese refugees caused by these endless conflicts.

The concept of the Great Lakes organization was a useful one because, indeed, there are a people, dialects and language that are the Great Lakes people, being a part, being a sub-group, of the wider African people. In Malawi and Zambia, they accurately named one of the dialects: Kinyanja – I hope it means the language of the Lakes Peoples. In the introduction to the Katondoozi of Runyankore – Rukiga (the thesaurus), I proposed to use the terms: Kinyanja South and Kinyanja North, the latter referring to the closely linked Bantu speakers around the lakes: Tanganyika, Kivu, Edward (Rutchuru - Butumbi), George(Masyooro), Albert (Mwitanzigye) and Victoria (Nalubaale). These are, indeed, one people, if you use the yardstick of the mutual intelligibility of the dialects. That is why even the not so progressive social scientists grouped these as the interlacustrine Bantu (the Bantu of the Lakes) – in Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi, Congo (DRC) and even Zambia. Recognition of this fact would simplify the endless, man-made problems of the area. It is not only the Bantu speakers that are interlacustrine. There are our Nilotic dialects speakers and the Nilo-hamitic dialect speakers in Uganda, Congo, Kenya and Tanzania (these do not extend to Rwanda and Burundi). Only yesterday, while viewing the eclipse in Packwach, I was speaking in Alur with the delegation from Mahagi in DRC. Fortunately, apart from the similarities and linkages among these interlacustrine Bantu – Nilotic and Nilo-Hamitic dialects, there is the Swahili dialect which our ancestors evolved at the coast of East Africa as a non-tribal dialect available for all to use. The Great Lakes peoples call

Lake: Nyanja, Nyanza etc. Therefore, these Nyanja peoples have, for millennia, been linked with the coastal Swahili People and also with Congo (DRC). That is why the excavations at Ntutsi, dated back to 900 AD, contained glass beads (enkwaanzi) imported from Mesopotamia through the coast. Inspite of the complications, we support the concept of the Great Lakes. It has the potential to help in solving these endless problems. When the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR) links up with SADC, results will be better. Therefore, let this conference take useful decisions. Uganda is ready to play its part as usual.

I thank you.

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