The M23 Head of Youth Mobilization, Mr. Ali Musagara breaks his silence and speaks to CongoDRC News about the objectives of the M23.
He had this to say with regard to the possibility of M23 integrating into FARDC, ‘’How can we be expected to integrate into an army that does not exist? FARDC is not an army in the proper sense. It is a criminal group that is responsible for the recent violation of 126 women in Minova, 70 in Katanga and 90 in Tongo.
CongoDRC News: Information available on the Internet lays claims that 450 former Ntaganda fighters who were in Rwanda have now joined the M23 of General Makenga. What do you make of these claims?
AM: You should rather put this question to Thierry Vurcoulon who is the author of this information. Let me explain this to you; during clashes on March 1st to 15th in Kibumba between Bosco Ntaganda’s group and M23, M23 captured 150 of Ntaganda’s fighters and 300 voluntarily surrendered themselves, some of whom are officers whose name were released on the internet. These are the 450 soldiers that were being referred to by M23 Military spokesman Colonel Vianney Kazarama so it is unfortunate that the Director of the International Crisis group has distorted this information for reasons best known to him. Recently diplomats visited the former Ntaganda fighters who had crossed into Rwanda and are still there.
CongoDRC News: Is it true that the M23 is preparing to attack Goma?
AM: We deliberately withdraw from the city of Goma on December 1st 2012 and declared a unilateral ceasefire in Kampala to give peace and dialogue a chance; why then would we attack Goma today and especially when our delegation in Kampala is engaged in talks with the DRC Government? Ever since May 6th 2012 which marks the date on which M23 was created, we never planned an attack against the FARDC positions. Instead, the FARDC has been attacking us and we only defend ourselves and push back the attackers. Kabila and his allies FDLR, Mayi Mayi, Nyatura, MONUSCO and others continue to calmly prepare their war plan and generate falsehoods to distract and confuse public opinion. We however, are well informed and ready to defend ourselves.
CongoDRC News: Recently Tshibanda ordered the M23 to lay down their arms. Will you abide by his order and integrate into FARDC?
AM: Tshibanda has the right to make his wishes known. However, M23 did not take up arms on an order. M23 took up arms because the DRC Government wanted to exterminate us and to bury the March 23 2009 agreement so that Kinshasa may not have to deal with and resolve the deep rooted problems that our country is experiencing. If Mr. Tshibanda wants an exodus from the abstract world to the world of reality, then he has to provide answers and solutions to the justifiable grievances of M23.
It is not a secret that the DRC does not have what can be considered as a proper army and even the United Nations Secretary-General noted this fact in his report of 27th February. M23 cannot be expected to integrate into an institution that does not exist in reality. M23 cannot integrate into a criminal group which is responsible for the rape of 126 women in Minova, 70 in Katanga and 90 in Tongo. Please read the recent report of UNOCHA about FARDC rapes in Katanga to find out more about the conduct of this so called army.
CongoDRC News: Soon a special intervention brigade will be deployed to the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo, how will M23 cope?
AM: The famous Brigade! The Brigade which is resolved to silence Congolese who have been forced to make the ultimate sacrifice by a regime that thrives through demagoguery, corruption, exclusion, and terror. For the first time the UN has openly decided to support a government that is characterized by fraud, a government that rigged the elections of November 28, a government that is the cause of the misery of the Congolese and that does not in any way comply with basic human rights. If the Brigade attacks us, we shall respond with vigor. We will defend ourselves to the last drop of blood.
CongoDRC News: Many reports make claims about the presence of Ugandans and Rwandans in the ranks of M23, what do you have to say about these allegations?
AM: It is absolutely false; the Congolese Government cannot find another excuse to justify its failure to maintain a decent army and instead points fingers at Rwanda and Uganda. However, apart from spreading falsehoods Kinshasa has never been able to provide any evidence of their presence. But to reassure you, if the M23 had the support of Rwanda and Uganda as is being alleged by the DRC Government, perhaps we would have apprehended Kabila by now and had him transferred to the ICC.
CongoDRC News: What message do you have for the South African people?
AM: I have great respect for the brotherly people of South Africa and their struggle against exclusion and the fight for the welfare of all citizens even if their President (ZUMA), out of his own selfish interests, is ready to take the risk of sacrificing the lives of South African military personnel in order to rescue a corrupt regime which does not guarantee the equality of all citizens. Nelson Mandela said “A man who deprives another man’s freedom is a prisoner of hatred, prejudice and narrow-mindedness” so I appeal to our brothers, the South Africans, not to allow an individual or a group of individuals to discard the values that have built their nation and for which values Nelson Mandela sacrificed his youth.
CongoDRC News: What about the fate of the Kampala talks?
AM: After M23 captured the city of Goma, the DRC Government finally agreed to sit around a table to discuss with us. Whenever the Government has sought to create a blockage in negotiations, we have sought to find a way forward. M23 declared a cease-fire unilaterally, accepted the change in agendas and overlooked several violations of rules during the negotiations. As of now we have submitted our proposals to the facilitator. We need to resolve our problems through talks not war as our people are tired of wars. Surprising in all this it is the DRC Government and Intervention Brigade that are preparing to make war.
CongoDRC News: What is your final word to the youth?
AM: Change will not come from others and will not happen tomorrow. It will only come from us and now. We are the change that we seek.
Translated by Diana S, Katabarwa