President Félix Tshisekedi has asked former President Joseph Kabila to make his position clear about the ongoing M23 rebels’ aggression in the eastern part of DRC.
The Congolese president last week on Thursday addressed the nation and asked politicians to “silence their differences” and to mobilize “as one man.” He also asked the youth to “organize themselves into vigilante groups” against the M23.
M23 rebels that have outwitted Congolese army on the battle front are described as terrorists by Kinshasa while the international community say the rebel force actions are of a conventional army.
Tshisekedi also accuses Moïse Katumbi, the former governor of Katanga of remaining silent on the situation in Eastern DRC. The rebels now control several localities, including Bunagana and recently Rutshuru in the East.
However, political pundits in DRC argue that Kabila’s deafening silence on the M23 actions also cuts across his political coalition the FCC.
“You have to understand the Kabilists. When they were in power, Tshisekedi’s UDPS showed them no support on this subject. It is therefore normal that they are silent,”according to a source preferring anonymity.
According to the Tshisekedi government, Kabilists last spoke about the M23 rebellion in July but it is concerned they did not blame Rwanda.
Kabila’s party the People’s Party for Reconstruction and Democracy (PPRD) said in a statement last July, “On the security front, the Political Bureau (of PPRD) notes a deterioration in the security situation in our country and expresses its deep concern.”
It added, “This is an opportunity to express all our compassion to those of our compatriots who are victims of this crisis. We support the Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of Congo in the face of the negative forces operating in our country, particularly in its eastern part. We have total confidence in the ability of our Armed Forces to defeat these negative forces.”
However, a relative of Joseph Kabila who requested not to be named explained the silence maintained on the M23 aggression.
“Before leaving power, the Honorary President was clear: our relations with Rwanda were not good. We were surprised, when President Tshisekedi arrived, that our country suddenly changed course. Worse still, despite our advice, army officers have been arrested or punished simply because they were hostile to Rwanda or because they were appointed by Kabila. How do you want us today to be the ones who take the lead in the face of our own mistakes?.”
Meanwhile, Ferdinand Kambere, deputy permanent secretary of the PPRD noted ,“we were against the fact that the government took the option of renegotiating with the M23 when it had already disappeared.”
According to Kambere, “there was no reason to renegotiate with these people and especially to sign agreements with Rwanda and Uganda because now we are caught in the throat because of these problems.”
Another relative of Kabila also who requested anonymity observed that the attitude of the Tshisekedi regime does not create the conditions for national mobilization.
“You cannot have people in prison for criticizing and calling for mobilization. The Head of State should set an example and take actions that allow all parties to mobilize to lend him a hand. The threat is real, but it is up to the Chief to take the step”, he said.
He however rules out the possibility of seeing Joseph Kabila and Félix Tshisekedi working together.
“It is totally possible. They have worked together before. Why wouldn’t they do it again, while our country is under threat. But our friends in power must learn from their mistakes and reach out. It is not just Kabila that needs to be mobilized. All the other forces in the country expect strong actions from the President of the Republic,” he explained.
President Tshisekedi views Mr Katumbi with suspicion
According to the Kinshasa regime, Moïse Katumbi, leader of Together for the Republic party, current position is unknown whether he is an opponent or still allied to the Congolese president.
The regime also says the former governor of Katanga was completely silent on this issue of the M23 rebellion in the east of the country. His party only communicates on elections and this makes the regime wonder what this man is up to.
Katumbi last communicated on the rebellion on May 21 via a tweet which the Kinshasa regime describes as unclear.
“War never brings a solution. Faced with the new ordeal we are going through, let’s all be united. All my support goes to the FARDC who fight with courage against the M23! The fate of the thousands of our compatriots in distress must be our very first concern,” Katumbi said.
However, a close relative of Mr. Katumbi argues, “We prefer to remain silent because a statement will not change anything. We need concrete actions and we have always said that, ” he explains under anonymity. However, many in Kinshasa, especially on the side of President Tshisekedi, believe that this silence is the result of an “acquaintance with Kigali”.
In 2018, Katumbi was in Kigali, Rwanda on April 28 and 29, during the Mo Ibrahim award ceremony. At that time he was the subject of a controversy in Kinshasa.
President Paul Kagame had then observed that “Congo’s problems are not only Congo’s problems, they also affect us as a neighbour”. What Katumbi had said: “I think the president (Kagame) has said everything”. “Now that I am in Rwanda, they will invent other false accusations because they do not like Rwanda…”, Katumbi told the press in Kigali.
Kinshasa regime under President Tshisekedi badly wants Mr. Katumbi to resort to rhetoric against Kigali and blame it as they do for the ongoing troubles in the East of DRC.