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Tuesday, 13 June, 2000, 09:48 GMT 10:48 UK
Rwanda and Uganda: Who is to blame?

This week Rwanda and Uganda were supposed to be withdrawing their forces from the DR Congo town of Kisangani. But far from withdrawing they have been involved in pitched battles, killing each other, as well as civilians caught in the crossfire.

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Rwanda and Uganda used to be close allies - indeed it was Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni who backed Paul Kagame's Rwandan Patriotic Front in its fight for power against a regime perpetrating genocide against Tustis.

But with the two governments backing rival rebel factions in DR Congo, relations have deteriorated rapidly.

Who is to blame? Is Rwanda getting too big for its boots and hitting back at its former protector, or is it Uganda behaving like an overbearing big brother? Why is it that allies seem to make their own worst enemies?

This debate is now closed. Here are a selection of the e-mails received.


Both Uganda and Rwanda should be blamed for the death of innocent civilians. If they want to defend their countries as they say, why not take back their military and make strongholds within their own territories?
Matovu Henry, Ugandan in USA.

Why do we in Africa always take one step forward then three steps back? The money Rwanda and Uganda is spending fighting each other could be better used to help AIDS victims in their respective countries.
Farhiya Warsame, Tanzania



I don't think that anyone can be blamed directly. The most important thing is to try to educate the people and not give monetary assistance to the governments

Rosa, Italy
Rwanda and Uganda are spending more than 40% of their annual budgets on war and less than 15% on health and education. I think it is about time they realise that Congolese people need space to take care of their own business. Rwandans and Ugandans need to spend that money at home to help slow down the AIDS virus and educate their children.
George Meyers, USA, friend of Rwanda

I don't think that anyone can be blamed directly. The most important thing is to try to educate the people and not give monetary assistance to the governments.
Rosa, Italy

Once again the West has tried to prop up the alibis of two countries in its favour, who chose to invade Congo. The world knows Rwanda and Uganda have been robbing and killing the Congolese and for the West. It's called "security issues" for the two invading armies.
Victor Magat, Philippines

It would be wise for Rwanda and Uganda to realise that the Congo will not be in political disarray forever. It will one day be in a position to pay back, with interest, the unsolicited attention it is getting from those countries.
Daniel Nnyombi-Kaggwa, Canada



The Rwandese will never forgive us - we are adding the insult to the genocide injury they already have

Kagaba, Uganda
Our president should control his top military commanders. The war we are waging against the small Rwandans is nonsense but will continue to be costly. The Rwandese will never forgive us, we are adding the insult to the genocide injury they already have.
Kagaba, Uganda

The fighting between Uganda and Rwanda in the DRC comes as no surprise to me. For the leaders of these two countries represent the most cunning criminals in the entire Region. They are merely fighting each other because the loot from the DRC has not been/is not being divided up equally.
I think Ugandan and Rwandan citizens should rid their countries of these criminals and in so doing the entire region will benefit. Shame on the western countries who stubbornly continually support Africa's most un-popular trio.
Charles Otto-Olak, UK

The fighting in RDC is the signal showing once again the weakness of the UN and the international community in the great lakes region.
Habibu Jim, Rwanda



I think it's time we gave Mugabe due respect and recognition for his part in stopping these countries from totally destroying the DRC

Mavheti Madinga, Zimbabwe
It's amazing how the West continues to look the other way. I'm left with no doubt that were it not for Zimbabwe, Angola and Namibia, more people would have died in Congo. I think it's time we gave Mugabe due respect and recognition for his part in stopping these countries from totally destroying the DRC.
Mavheti Madinga, Zimbabwe

There is no more time for finger pointing. Congolese people have suffered enough. Uganda and Rwanda troops have to leave Congo. If they want to show how strong they have become, there are other ways to score points.
Nsele Mengi Nsuangani, USA

The first to be blamed is OAU, next the military leaders and above all the United States which is backing the war. Unless the United States stops its extravagant intervention in the poor African countries there will be peace in the continent.
Fabio, Chile



The failure, inaction, slow response and lack of interest by the United States and her Nato allies is responsible for the genocide in Congo

Sam Nabaasa, Uganda
None of these countries (Uganda & Rwanda) are a democracy. Loud voices opposing their militaristic leaders cannot be heard from within their borders. Yet the International community continues to prop up the regimes with Aid money and good will!
The failure, inaction, slow response and lack of interest by the United States and her Nato allies is responsible for the genocide in Congo. Neither Ugandan nor Rwandese regimes can support their war machinery without outside assistance.
Sam Nabaasa, Uganda

This whole trouble in the Congo is a result of lack of respect for one another and lack of a focussed mission of the two former allies. If these can be corrected, there would not be any loss of innocent lives on a foreign territory.
Robert N. Ford, Rwanda

A lot of it has to be blamed on history, colonialism the way that African countries have been divided into units that does not reflect the demographic constellation of Africa. The way that colonial powers left Africa behind and went back to their arm chairs where they are still paying corrupt officials to continue the looting of Africa.
One question: How does Europe sustain itself without much resource, and very little agriculture? The money must come from somewhere? Africa?
George Rautenbach, South Africa



Personally as a Rwandese I feel ashamed of this war - it no longer makes sense

Matata D, Rwanda
Personally as a Rwandese I feel ashamed of this war, it no longer makes sense for our troops to be in Congo. The very purpose which took us to Congo is being overshadowed by this senseless fighting. Enough is enough Uganda and Rwanda should come back to their senses.
Matata D, Rwanda

I think now it's time for the BIG brother to stand down due to the inhumanity of what they are doing to us (CONGOLESE).
Andy Mche, DRC

The fact that both Uganda and Rwanda have their own serious internal problems to deal with, their presence in DRC can never be justified by either. The only explanation for their presence is that both are ferocious scavengers who have apparently disagreed on how to share the carcass. It's time they stop the slaughter of other country's innocent citizens.
Dr. R. Sakia, Botswana



What I find sad and unacceptable is their readiness to fight one another in an independent country

Kyalo Kiema, Germany
To say the least, I am greatly appalled by the behaviour of both Rwanda and Uganda. It has become very clear that, although security concerns were pointed out as the reasons for their military expedition in Congo, their main objective was to plunder the vast resources in Congo.
What I find sad and unacceptable is their readiness to fight one another in an independent country. Through this they have subjected the people of Kisangani to untold suffering. My challenge to both countries is simple. Please get the hell out of Congo and settle your own differences elsewhere. The people of Congo and Africa in general is ashamed to you.
Kyalo Kiema, Kenyan in Germany

I strongly feel that Rwanda should be blamed for these endless skirmishes because Uganda had fulfilled its part by quitting Kisangani as part of demilitarisation plan. Whereas Rwanda started playing monkey tricks by confiscating their military uniforms and hiding their guns - a sign that they were not ready to withdraw and prepared for a fight against their counterparts -the Ugandan troops.
Taremwa Kaagizirwe, Uganda



We will never die for them ever again and neither will we foster and nurture a people who will later turn their poisonous fangs on us

Mugisha, Uganda
It is painfully clear that the Ugandan assistance offered to Rwanda (RPA and Kagame) has been completely disregarded and in fact turned against Uganda. When they needed help to end the genocide in 1994, we sent boys and equipment. Again in the defence of their Banyamulenge relatives in 1997 and in the overthrowing of Mobutu, we sent boys and equipment. More recently, when their boys were in trouble in Kinshasa at the start of the 2nd rebellion, we sent boys and equipment in that very daring rescue effort. And the same in the fight against the formidable Zimbabwe-Angola-Namibia axis.
Don't forget that we have always been a home for their people whenever they have needed refuge in the face of persecution and genocide at home. In fact, most of their current leaders are de facto Ugandans, born and bred in Uganda. If they feel it necessary to kill our boys, in a third country, that is unfortunate. Let one thing be clear, Ugandans will never see that sector of the Rwandan people in the same way ever again, GENOCIDE OR NOT. We will never die for them ever again and neither will we foster and nurture a people who will later turn their poisonous fangs on us. Ugandans, forgive BUT NEVER FORGET.
Mugisha, Uganda

As long as people continue to be fooled by leaders with personal ambitions and the sickening desire to be and stay in power, there will always be senseless wars.
Just look at what's happening in Sierra Leone, Ethiopia, Congo, Kosovo, Zimbabwe... just to name a few. All with different scenarios, different historical backgrounds, but in all cases you find a dictator fulfilling his dreams of power and prolonging his stay in power.
When will these leaders start using their minds?
Kebede, Ethiopia



Just imagine what the cost of one fighter plane can do for our tormented and helpless people

Ubong Effeh, UK (Nigerian)
The most painful aspect of this is that as long as the so-called leaders of the region continue to derive personal benefits from these wars, they will never end. Just imagine what the cost of one fighter plane can do for our tormented and helpless people.
Ubong Effeh, UK (Nigerian)



Both Rwanda and Uganda have no business in the Democratic Republic of Congo and it is high time they let the Congolese people look after their own destiny

Landreku, Canada
Uganda sees Rwanda as a small country that wants to have big influence in regional affairs and Rwanda sees Uganda as a country that also wants to be master of all affairs in the region.
Muhizi, USA

It's just a case of two countries that have grown too arrogant to even sit down and agree to compromise. Each of them wants to be the boss of the Great Lakes region
Saied Godana, Kenyan in Canada

Both countries are to blame. If there was a disagreement, they should have used diplomacy instead of killing civilians. There is absolutely no good excuse for killing. They seem to have no respect for human life.
Paula Josiah, Kenya

Rwanda and Uganda should be ashamed of themselves and withdraw from RDC unconditionally. It is amazing to see two countries fighting inside an independent country while the world is watching. Knowing how poor these two countries are, and the fact that they're fighting, makes us all sick.
Adiam W, Canada

For the sake of the Congolese people, get the Rwandans and Ugandans out of the Congo. They can go and fight each in Rwanda or Uganda as they used to.
Jose Mazumbu, Congo/ Canada



For the sake of the Congolese people, get the Rwandans and Ugandans out of the Congo

Jose Mazumbu, Congo/ Canada
What is the most scandalous is that, once again, the so-called international community and the UN are clearly reluctant to condemn those invasions. The people of Congo, who faced 2 wars in one year, and the people of Rwanda, who have just come out of genocide, continue to suffer.
Alain, Belgium

It is again unfortunate and ridiculous to see that the so-called new generation of African leaders hailed in the West at the end of the century, ranging from the Horn of Africa to the Great Lakes region, are indeed ruthless leaders with absolutely no interest in the social, economic and political development of Africa. Both Rwanda and Uganda have no business in the Democratic Republic of Congo and it is high time they let the Congolese people look after their own destiny.
Landreku, Canada

Somebody must smack African leaders on the head. I don't believe that they value human life. For most of them, human lives are commodities (disposable war machines). If one dies, big deal, another will replace it.
Haile Britu, Canada

I think is time for Uganda and Rwanda to get out of Congo. They have really messed up that country.
Dak Machar, Sudanese in Sweden

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