The M23 rebel leader in drcongo, brigadier-general sultani emmanuel makenga, says he wants peace but if the kampala peace talks between his group and the congolese government fail, the only option we have is to fight till the last man". Richard Mgamba went to the m23 stronghold, 20km out of goma, to interview brig-gen makenga, who kept repeating that they are fighting to bring peace, unity and good governance to drcongo, and they want the return of all congolese refugees to their homes.
Q What are your expectations for the Kampala peace talks between the Congolese government and the M23? What if your expectations are not met?
So far the talks are going at a very slow pace, because nothing tangible has come out of it since the process started some weeks ago. We have made our expectations and conditions very clear, but if they aren't met, we shall resume fighting until we achieve them.
It should be noted that I am committed to peace, but if we are pushed to achieve peace through the gun, then we are ready for that because this struggle has been my life for the past 22. years. We strongly believe in peace, and respect the international community. That's why we have pulled out of Goma and stopped fighting.
But from what I hear from my team in Kampala, it seems the talks may be stalled because our colleagues from the Kinshasa regime are not ready. I hope that they fully understand the importance of peace and therefore they won't be playing delaying tactics, waiting for the Southern Africa armed forces [the SADC intervention forces] to be deployed in Congo.
Q You have been fighting for 22 years and it seems you are still determined to fight on. What are you trying to achieve? Do you really believe in peace as you claim?
First of all, you should know that I believe in peace and that's why I have pulled out my troops from Goma. But peace is not a gift that you are given on a silver plate, it's something you have to sacrifice a lot, including your life, to achieve, protect and defend at any cost. I have been fighting all these years because we want peace and stability for our people and our country, but if we can't achieve our goal through mediation, we are ready to fight till the last man.
My fight is against injustice brought by the Kinshasa regime, which has become a stooge of the Western powers who dictate the terms of how the country should be managed. I joined this struggle 22 years ago, when I was a small boy aged 17. I first fought against Habyarimana's regime in Rwanda that wanted to kill all Tutsis. I was a member of the Rwandan Patriotic Front. I joined the organisation in 1990 in Uganda because I didn't like the Habyarimana regime as well as the Mobutu rule.
Q What happened after the war in Rwanda?
When the war ended in Rwanda, I decided to fight for my country, Democratic Republic of Congo. I relocated from Rwanda to Burundi, and that's where I met Mzee [Laurent] Kabila. Mzee and I shared the same goal, to liberate Congo from the brutal, corrupt leadership of Mobutu, which had almost destroyed the country. That was 1996 when we launched the liberation struggle for Congo with Mzee Kabila.
At that time, all of us Congolese fought for the same goal. But when we won the war, we were branded Banyamulenge--a group of Tutsi that is disobedient. We were called foreigners by the same man we had supported, and then told to return to...