Friends of evil(Chapter 2): The FAR’s Vision for the Future

Posted: August 28, 2013 in Book
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Soon after the September meeting of the FAR leadership, and the Bizimungu report sent to Sindikubwabo and Kambanda, and as recommended by the French and the IDC, the FAR began work on a post-mortem of its defeat in Rwanda and a course of action for the future.

To this end, a special commission was formed under the chairmanship of Lt. Col. Juvenal Bahufite. This commission comprised the following members: Lt. Col. Eng. Jean Bosco Ruhorahoza, Maj. Emmanuel Neretse, Maj. Dr. Desire Ruhigira, Maj. Eng. Faustin Ntilikina, Capt. Eng. Vincent Nsengimana, and Capt. Hasengineza. Their assignment was “to determine the causes of our (their) defeat after considering the developments of the situation since the beginning of the war on 1 October 1990; then determine and analyze all possible scenarios with a view to the return of all the refugees in their country in security and dignity”.

The analysis of these scenarios led to proposed concrete actions to be carried out in order to reach this objective. The findings of the commission were put in a report which was submitted to the FAR High Command on December 20, 1994.[1]

In its introduction, the report reviews the reasons of the defeat of the FAR in Rwanda by the RPF. It says that the ordeal of the army started on October 1, 1990 when “elements of the Ugandan regular army attacked Rwanda in the north, on its borders with Uganda. The attackers claimed to belong to “something called the Rwandan Patriotic Front” which had among its objectives the return of TUTSI refugees who had been forced into exile since 1959-1960 following the social revolution which chased out of power the ruling TUTSI class”.

The commission explained that the FAR put up a strong defence against the attack, and broke it on October 30, 1990. But the attackers launched “a guerrilla strategy by spreading the war all along the border of the two countries while intensifying military preparations, and particularly the media campaign throughout the world.”

The report relates how their Government initiated negotiations and cease-fire agreements that were never respected, so that the war continued on the whole border with Uganda. Note should be taken here that the report does not mention who was responsible for non-respect of the signed agreements. There is ample documentation to prove that Habyarimana’s government, and especially the military, did not want, at all, the full implementations of the Arusha Peace Accords.

The commission said that the international community believed that peace was going to come back to Rwanda after the peace agreements signed on August 4, 1993. Yet, “This was without reckoning with the resolve of RPF of attaining its objective at all cost of taking power in Kigali by force”.

The FAR’s denial of genocide is wrapped in allegations of “constant provocations by the RPF”—which ended up making these agreements inefficient. They say the problem was caused by “assassinations of Hutu political leaders, kidnappings and killings of Hutus, particularly supporters of MRND and CDR, military recruitments inside the country which increased between August 1993 and April 1994 with the complicity of MINUAR under the commandment of the Canadian General Romeo Dallaire. The assassination of the Head of State in the evening of 6 April 1994 crowned this series of provocations with impunity and resulted in the eruption like a volcano of the wrath of the population which had been suppressed for a long time and to atrocious interethnic massacres”[2].



Scenarios for the return of refugees

Three assumptions were identified and proposed by the FAR report. The first was peaceful return through negotiations based on the Arusha Accords or on new bases; the second was, return through violent means— either “wage war until total victory” or, “aiming at limited objectives” with a view to exerting sufficient pressure on the RPF Government so that it accepts negotiations.

The third option was “More or less forced repatriation of the refugees using a combination of FAR armed force with ploys of “therapeutic-homeopathic” type and propaganda or use of these, “subterfuges” only.

For each scenario, the Commission identified prerequisites for their implementation, possible obstacles, measures to be taken, and indication of the required resources. The advantages and disadvantages of each assumption were also identified.



a)      Peaceful return through negotiations

The hypothesis of a peaceful return through negotiations embraced three types of action, each of which required appropriate human, financial and material resources. These were set as: Outward oriented actions (diplomatic, media, representations abroad, propaganda …); inward oriented actions (organization, sensitization and information of the population, propaganda …); and special actions (intelligence, sabotage, disinformation…).

The FAR planners considered the advantages of peaceful return through negotiations to be: the least onerous for them from the material and personnel point of view; the least destructive for the entire Rwandan population and the country; the quickest in that it does not require much preparation; and would facilitate power sharing by consensus and hence political opening and therefore rapid democratization.

The commission found, that, the major disadvantage of the peaceful return of refugees to the country through negotiations was that the success of this solution depended largely on external factors which were beyond the control of the refugees—above all on the good will of the RPF and on the help of the international community. The commission thought they had ‘insufficient trump cards on the part of the refugees’ and above all, lack of sufficient military, diplomatic and media pressure— leading to “a diktat in favour of RPF and its allies.”

Preconditions for a negotiated solution within the framework of the Arusha Accords were: The parties (representatives of refugees and the RPF) accept to go back to the Arusha Accords; the international community to convince and push the two parties in that direction; and as a must, that the RPF to first recognize explicitly the Government-in-exile, given that the players provided for in the Accords are the Government of Rwanda and RPF.

The FAR planners foresaw the following obstacles: the military victory of RPF made the Arusha Accords null and void. Without addressing the issue of genocide, the report indicated the RPF victory was “as a result of different events that occurred” and had led to the creation of the post of Vice- President, inclusion of soldiers in parliament, the exclusion of the MRND, and a “schism” in stakeholders in the government and political parties— part of these politicians remained with RPF, and another had left with the refugees. Also, the Hutu refugees in Zaire had not carried out enough diplomatic and media activities to demonstrate to the RPF and the international community that it represents a threat as long as it remains outside the country and that its government is still the competent negotiator. Another obstacle was the existence of “unconditional allies” of the RPF.

The commission also made a pertinent observation: “Some behaviour on our side may make the international community reject us, e.g., unjustified uprisings in the camps, attacks on foreigners, banditry and criminality in the camps, etc. Being accused as the perpetrators of the genocide still weighs heavily on this government; and the return by whatever means of the refugees in the country would deprive the government in exile of its justification and, therefore, its meaning.”

As far as FAR diplomatic and media actions were concerned, they thought they should be able to persuade international opinion that the military victory of the RPF had not resolved the fundamental political problem, that the RPF will not be able in the future to manage the country alone, and that the war was not yet over, with all the resulting consequences inside the country and at the regional and international level.

Dealing with the problem of the “schism”, the FAR planners hoped to convince the leaders of political parties of the need to find a solution to internal disagreements through negotiations inside the respective parties, to adapt them to the new realities. Another thing was to get the international community interested in their cause and to exert pressure on RPF and prevent it from consolidating its power, as this may break its reluctance to negotiate; and prepare their own defence and mitigate accusations against the FAR by accusing the RPF. The other strategy was to provide ideological training to the refugee population.

The commission observed that negotiations within the Arusha Agreement had advantages: The agreement already existed as a working tool, it had the backing of the international community accepted by the opposing parties, and increased the credibility of “the people of Rwanda”. And, it could be perhaps be used to induce the RPF to share power with political parties like MDR, CDR and other extremist factions which had been grouped in 1993 under the name of “Hutu-Power”.

Some of the identified disadvantages were: Increased credibility for the RPF, which would present itself before the international community as the only political force with a coherent structure and, therefore, the only one capable of organizing and managing the country; the refugees could get tired of the differences of opinion among their leaders and could accept to return to the country under the conditions laid down by the RPF; from the outset, the Arusha Accords placed the “government” (Hutu) side in a weak position because it was  composed of several political parties with divergent views compared to the monolithic RPF; and, “the Arusha Accords ignored the ethnic problem (Hutu/Tutsi) and yet it is basic to the Rwandan problem in its totality. Bringing forward this problem within the Arusha Accords would meet the resistance of the RPF which has always liked to ignore it under the pretext that the problem was rather ideological (democratization). On the other hand, failure to raise it would bring the population to maintain a certain mistrust of these Accords.”

For anticipated negotiations to be possible, the two parties were to be composed of “representatives of refugees and of the RPF” whereby the International Community would be obliged to see in the community of refugees “a dissuasive entity”.

Under this scenario, the commission saw several prerequisites before negotiating within the framework of the Arusha agreement could be possible. One was that the international community had to put enough pressure on the RPF to bring it to “open up to democracy.” The second was to overcome the “problems of regionalism and partisanship” in the refugee camps, to achieve what they termed “unity of opinion” and “joint efforts”. The third was that, “Insecurity inside Rwanda must be permanently maintained so as to make them feel the threat that we represent and force RPF to accept negotiations.”

The FAR planners, however, foresaw several obstacles.  International opinion favoured the RPF “either knowingly (for various interests)” or because it was “not well informed or is manipulated by pro-RPF media”; “The RPF has allies who are unconditionally attached to it namely the Ugandan government and the Burundi army, and other allies who were said to be supporting RPF for various objectives (the USA, Belgium, and England). RPF power was becoming increasingly credible before the international community especially with its gradual control over the population with the help of the United Nations (MINUAR); and the media and diplomatic embargo against refugees did not allow them to be heard and thus influence international opinion.

The military commission noted that their people were “inexperienced in international politics, particularly in terms of knowledge of leading ideas which guide the international politics of the moment as well as decision making mechanisms in international circles.” They also regretted that their, “whole population” had been made to feel guilty by accusing them of being the perpetrators of the genocide, which they considered to be the “will of the RPF to get rid of any political opinion against it”, hence preventing their “cause from being heard.”

Apart from internal disagreements based “on partisan quarrels and regionalism”, the FAR planners also mentioned “obstacles that hinder actions of destabilizing the country: untrained staff in this type of sabotage activities, lack of adequate equipment (remote-controlled equipment, portable mines, explosives…), lack of complicity from host countries, the draconian control of RPF inside the country and on its borders, lack of a system of intelligence whereas this type of actions requires the existence of consistent intelligence, and lack of strategies on how to face foreseeable consequences, especially with regard to the population inside the country and the international community.

The Commission proposed more than a few actions to overcome these obstacles. The first was the intensification of propaganda. To better achieve their objectives, priority was to put in place representations in “friendly countries” and avail them with resources to “carry out propaganda in favour of our cause”. These representations, it was made clear, would be composed of people living in those friendly countries, students, and people sent to this effect. Target groups (important persons, social groups, States, media, etc…) for whom messages would be intended would be defined beforehand. Concerning the media—the planners called on the FAR to develop guiding principles for diplomatic and media actions for these representations to follow in their activities.

As far as propaganda was concerned, the FAR planners considered it most important to approach carefully selected international media and communication experts with adequate resources in order to bring them to serve the cause; to continue showing the international community that the war was not yet over, so that it would get more interested in the Rwandan problem and force the RPF to accept a negotiated solution; to convince the countries supporting the RPF of the bad consequences that would result from continuing such support, i.e. the possibility of a new war which would have repercussions on their countries; to denounce the hidden objectives behind alliances with RPF; and to discourage foreign investors and donors from investing or providing financial resources to Rwanda.

Other propaganda strategies laid out by the FAR planners were to disseminate information on what they called the “real genesis and developments of the conflict”, as well  as “other events that led to the massacres”; to encourage and help their people to participate in international conferences; to make judicious use of the existing competences of some of their politicians or public servants (former ministers, former ambassadors, former international civil servants,…etc) and to forge alliances with opposition political forces inside those countries so that they may defend their cause.

The FAR was also required to prepare for the defence of those who would be tried by studying meticulously the development of the events and explaining all the provocations of RPF that led to these tragic events; make provisions for lawyers who will consider and analyze reports made by UN experts so as to show their possible defects and propose corrective solutions; and, prepare documents accusing RPF of all crimes committed and other provocations and frustrations of the population which resulted in the killings of civilians, raids on properties, destruction of infrastructure and environment, assassinations of politicians.

The commission also proposed a strategy of terrorism: to carry out destabilization activities against the Kigali government, particularly by preventing the refugees in Zaire from going back to Rwanda, preventing those living in the camps inside  Rwanda from going back to their homes, and by encouraging those still inside to flee the country; to promote insecurity inside the country through actions of sabotage; to denounce the complicity of the United Nations (MINUAR) with the RPF; to put the UN staff in a condition of insecurity so that they stop “their complicity”.

Diplomatically, the FAR planners proposed a study of the political situation of neighbouring countries, especially potential allies like Kenya, Central African Republic and Gabon and in which the government in exile might re-settle and be able to work in favourable conditions. The plan was to approach the governments in those countries, the opposition political parties and all other political, religious, military and economic actors who may facilitate their mission.

Part of the FAR planner’s rehabilitation program was to develop a common strategy and action programme and to disseminate it to whoever it may concern especially to countries or institutions of interest (Belgium, France, Vatican, foreign political parties…)


b) The return by force


The FAR planners listed the following prerequisites for this scenario:  Substantial international support; a community of refugees with an assured rear base; sufficient logistic support; good technical, moral and ideological preparation of the personnel; existence of an adequate politico-military structure; existence of an efficient intelligence system inside the country; good preparation of the population inside the country and the refugees; and, an internal situation favourable to the operations.

The following were identified as obstacles to this strategy: The consolidation of RPF power in Kigali was likely to prevent the international community from seeking alternative solutions to the Rwandan problem. The international community would be reluctant to give approval to their war, preferring peaceful solutions. The FAR plans for “terrorism particularly against foreigners” could strengthen the international opinion against the refugee community. A sectarian or extremist ideology would not get the support of the international community; Tanzania favours the government in Kigali within the framework of the “English-speaking family”, and Uganda as an unconditional ally of RPF is hostile to the refugee community. The FAR lacks resources and has difficulty finding donors. They also noted their uncertainty of recovering their properties held by the Government of Zaire.

The FAR planners outlined actions to overcome these obstacles: Well-thought- out destabilization activities (propaganda, terrorism…); a diplomatic and media campaign abroad to expose the shortcomings of the Kigali government with regard to human rights and democracy; quick establishment of an international action program (with personnel, guidelines…) to spread their ideology; sensitization of the major Zairean politicians to the threat of having a regime dominated by the RPF in Kigali, linking  the security in Zaire and the internal situation in Rwanda; strengthening diplomatic and military activities of the opposition in Burundi to prepare in advance infiltration operations of their troops and/or recruit locally to minimize the effects of the obstacle of the Rusizi river; contacting opposition circles in Tanzania to sensitize them to the fact that the economic development of Western Tanzania depends on political stability in Rwanda; contacting and sensitizing Ugandan opposition forces and helping them if possible to change the government; mobilizing aid and establish a system of contributions to a resistance fund; sensitizing potential donors to the cause of the refugees; enlisting allies, both private and public, by promising them benefits in the exploitation of conquered territory;  and, undertaking diplomatic and media actions to sensitize the international opinion on the justification of their cause.

The military commission also spelled out the advantages and disadvantages of returning by force.

Advantages of the return by force were: It offered the best political, social and psychological conditions to the refugees, since winning the war would erase the defeat suffered earlier.  To the refugees, the resumption of the war would weaken the arrogance of the RPF which pretends to have won the war but cannot manage the country alone. The refugee community would escape the de facto media embargo to which it had been subjected since April 1994. War against the RPF could lead to spreading the war in the region, and this could perhaps encourage the international community to look for more sustainable solutions to the conflict.

The disadvantages of the return by force were as follows: It was costly in terms of material and human resources. It would not easily get international support. The timeframe was likely to be too long (need to acquire equipment, convince the international opinion, prepare men, etc.). And war worsens the destruction of the social fabric.

In the same hypothesis of using force to return to Rwanda, two scenarios were thought to be possible: the first was the use of force until final victory and the second was force with limited objectives.

Concerning the use of force until final victory, the FAR noted that the conditions for final victory must exist from the political, socio-economic, military and media-diplomatic point of view. This scenario had the following advantages. To take power without having to compromise with the RPF would guarantee “a definitive solution to the Hutu/Tutsi antagonism” and therefore of real re-establishment of peace; with the power in the hands of the majority, military victory would erase the shame and frustration of the Hutu majority; it would also restore the image of the FAR and the Hutu elite in general.

Its disadvantages were: The military solution by final victory shatters all the chances of national reconciliation. The regionalization of the conflict could lead to other challenges for foreign powers and the outcome of the war may be uncertain for the refugees.

The scenario of the use of force with limited objectives accompanied with negotiations had the following advantages: Chances of national reconciliation; a relatively shorter period of preparation and relatively limited resources; and avoiding the possible danger of generalizing the conflict in the region.

According to the military commission, this scenario had also its disadvantages: The RPF may refuse to negotiate. Power would all the same be shared after negotiations. This scenario required greater coordination of military and political actions which are still lacking among the refugees; and also would require intense political, diplomatic and media efforts.

Mechanisms for accomplishing this scenario were divided into 4 groups of action: The first was diplomatic, media actions and propaganda; the second was preparing men and military units entailing moral and ideological training, as well as training in tactics and technique; third, acquisition of the necessary equipment; and fourth, proper planning.


c) Third hypothesis: More or less forced repatriation of the population


The military commission considered this as a possibility, if “the RPF entrenches its power” with the support of the international community. It was anticipated that the “FAR and former dignitaries” would then find themselves separated from the refugees by use of different ploys, for example a media campaign by the RPF and NGOs calling upon the population to return, with attractive promises.

With NGOs no longer distributing enough food, the refugees could grow tired and disappointed and in despair, they would be forced to return to the country. This was thought to be the most unfavourable hypothesis for the refugees because it means total failure with total neutralization of the army.

The commission proposed certain actions under this hypothesis: A media and diplomatic campaign to interest the international community and the countries of the region in the cause of the refugees; show them the dangers of a Diaspora which would inevitably lead to war in future ; show them also that the consequences of such a war could be harmful to them too; convince them that, if there are any culprits, they must be tried quickly before the international tribunal so that the rest may be free; prevent the RPF from establishing its power; improve discipline among “the FAR and former dignitaries”; show the international community that they represent no danger, especially to the rest of the population; contact NGOs in order to bring them to have a better understanding of the cause of the refugees, to defend them on the international scene and continue distributing food and other aid; and produce concrete results at the level of the media, diplomacy and military.

According to the commission, the advantages of this scenario were that the problem of the refugees would be quickly resolved since its implementation of required very little preparation or negotiations. Furthermore, there was the possibility of infiltrating all sorts of agents who could act upon orders to support any future action.

Its disadvantages were many. The FAR planners wrote that the whole Hutu population would feel frustrated by this catastrophic defeat of returning unconditionally, and would lose confidence in its leaders and its Army for failing to get them out of this situation with dignity. The lack of pre-negotiated political conditions for the return of the refugees would make their future uncertain in terms of security, recovery of their properties and their rights.

They also predicted that this scenario would result the creation of an intellectual Hutu Diaspora which would constitute an explosive situation, which would inevitably lead to a war capable of destabilizing the entire region. The unconditional return of all the refugees would also contribute to the consolidation of RPF power, since the RPF would rule the country alone without any threat from outside. This would, they wrote, reduce the chances for a rapid democratic opening, and likely lead to a de facto dictatorship of the Tutsi minority.

The commission was of the view that within the FAR and the refugee population, some were tired and desperate, and ready to return to Rwanda willy-nilly. Actions to prevent this were envisaged. One was a media and diplomatic campaign to bring the international community and NGOs to serve the cause of the refugees; convince the refugees about the risks they are likely to incur by returning to the country in this manner; and sensitize the international community to these risks.

[1] Rapport au Comd des FAR, Goma, le 20 décembre 1994. (Author’s archives)

[2] Ibidem, p.8 The fact however, is that the extremist Hutu politicians and the military who planned genocide, never accepted the outcome of the Arusha Peace accord.

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