Multi-nationality legalized in Rwanda or expansionist policies with perverse effects?

Kagame with his team discussing DR Congo in Addis Ababa,

It is true that in Congolese public opinion, the question of nationality is controversial, especially when it comes to Rwandophones or Banyamulenge. Immigrants, transplanted people, illegal immigrants, refugees… and yet nationality is both a political and a legal problem. Why is nationality a problem in the Great Lakes Region? Does this region ignore the law? In the DRC, from the Belgian era until the Mobutu regime, the question of nationality was the object of satisfaction among some, of frustration and xenophobia among others. This leads to attitudes of exclusion, settling of scores, hostilities, violations of human rights, so-called wars of liberation including the current war unleashed by the Rwandan M23 rebels claiming to be Congolese. really Congolese of origin or just former refugees that Rwanda uses to stay in the DRC to stock up on natural resources? This analysis attempts to answer such questions while going back to the various origins of the problem, taking into account the milestones set ad hoc by the RPF regime since its accession to power in Kigali in 1994.

1. Controversies over nationality in this Great Lakes region

Since the advent of colonization, one could list the law on nationality plus ten texts ranging from the decree of December 27, 1892 to the constitution of February 18, 2006. Only the interpretation and application pose a problem. Any law does not raise specifically issue of the nationality to be granted to native Rwandans or Burundians established in the Congo; neither the Colonial Charter, the Berlin Act of 1885, the Round Table of Brussels, nor the Fundamental Law of 1960 address this question.

Despite the allegations put forward by the Rwandans, these texts are silent on the issue. In the aftermath of independence and in order to avoid ethnic-tribal divisions, thus promoting national reconciliation, the population were submitted to a constitutional referendum to 1964 with a view to filling in the gaps in previous texts. Art 6 of the Luluabourg constitution recognizes a single Congolese nationality. This nationality is attributed on the date of June 30 to any person one of whose descendants is or was established in the territory of the Congo before October 18, 1908. But at the time of its promulgation, the country sank into rebellion and the tribe paid a the heavy price, accused of coalition with the enemy. On November 24, 1965, Mobutu came to power. In 1971, based on Law No. 71-020 of March 26, 1971 and Law No. 72-002 of January 5, 1972 relating to Zairian Nationality, he granted nationality to persons originating from Ruanda-Urundi established in Congo at the date of June 30, 1960. Nationality was granted to persons established in the province of Kivu before January 1, 1950 and who have continued to reside there since then. In the 1st Law, we see that it only concerns people from Rwanda -Urundi. It was thus thought to put an end to the brutalities imposed on Rwandans by Congolese by operation RRR (Rendez les Rwandais au Rwanda). Secondly, the Director of Cabinet of the Head of State B. Bisengimana, a Rwandan refugee, would have used his influence in the signing of these two laws very largely favorable to his brothers. Thus, he will be accused of having regularized the nationality files of his Tutsi compatriots. These two laws allowed Rwandan immigrants to obtain Zairian identity cards, vast concessions and large companies at the time of Zairianization, important positions in the Government and State Security Services as well as in academic institutions. In 1980, overwhelmed by petitions and demands from politicians, the question of nationality reappeared on the scene and forced the authorities to react. This is how Law No. 81-002 of June 29, 1981 on Zairian nationality was promulgated. This new law aroused controversy. Zaire was accused of having populated the country with foreigners and people of dubious nationality. Rwandans living in North Kivu send a letter to the UN Secretary General asking to create a separate and independent state of North Kivu.

The reason is that the nationality conferred on them had just been withdrawn. Despite the organization of the National Sovereign Conference, Rwandan nationals will not win their case. Nevertheless, this national conference will retain the principle of compliance with the law on nationality. This fact led to the cancellation of the representation of Rwandophone subjects in the works of the conference. Speaking of nationality in the Great Lakes Region, the question also targets Burundians and Rwandans, whom we can categorize into 2 groups: immigrants and transplanted and refugees. Immigrants are those who arrived before the colonial presence because of the wars of conquest in Rwanda and Burundi in the 19th century in search of living space. Patient Kanyamacumbi will say “the banyamulenge came more than 2 centuries ago…but they were mainly Bahutu and Batutsi from Rwanda and Burundi. They also integrated within them Tanzanian elements from the Bashi of Ngweshe and Batela from the time of Baron Dhanis ». At this level, the transplanted persons arrived between 1930 and 1950 within the framework of MIB and Rwandan populations are transplanted either in the aim of alleviating the famines in Rwanda and decongesting an overpopulated territory, either to serve as labor in the plantations of Kivu and in the mining industry of Katanga. For Léon de Saint Moulin, “the Kivu, on the contrary, experienced during the same years 1948-1958 its strongest growth on the basis of a significant flow of Rwandan immigration organized from 1945 to 1955. It was estimated in this last year that 170,000 Rwandans had settled in Kivu since the start of the operation…according to the 1970 census in Kivu. There were 335,180 Rwandans, mostly settled in North Kivu”. The biggest problems for the transplanted are: land, political representation and nationality. The refugees are those who made the revolution of 1959, the Burundian refugees having made the coup since 1962. Since then, nationality was conferred on these social groups became the object of negotiations among politicians and among the natives who do not hesitate to accuse them of having a project of annexation of part of the country to Rwanda of having drawn up the plan for a new Tutsi colonization, “Tutsiland” and the indices predict it.

2.Analysis: the dual nationality advocated by Rwanda or a double-edged sword

Rwanda after 1994 is inhabited not only by people who lived there but also by those who returned from abroad, especially from neighboring countries such as Burundi, DRC, Uganda and Tanzania. As if to set a trap against countries from which they came, the new leaders of the Kigali have instituted dual nationality and all these former refugees have kept their nationalities to say that they have remained Ugandan, Congolese, Burundian and Tanzanian; better still, most have remained in these host countries, thus sowing confusion and why not causing recurring insecurity.

1) Are Banyamulenge and Bagogwe Rwandan or Congolese?

After the victory of the RPF and its occupation of the country, there were flows of refugees from all over returning to their country of origin which is Rwanda. Thus, in Rwanda we have thousands of Banyamulenge and Bagogwe in the civil service, in the police and in the army. However, wanting to exploit the fact that they have not lost Congolese nationality, their brothers or parents possessing cattle in the east of the DRC have remained, the Rwandan-Congolese borders being permeable so that the movements of these populations going or coming in both directions have not ceased, especially since in Rwanda it is their brothers who lead the country. When you ask the Banyamulenge and the Bagogwe the question of whether they are Rwandan or Congolese, they answer you that they are Rwandan but that when an interest arises they become Congolese especially since they have lived there.

In conclusion, objectively speaking Banyamulenge and Bagogwe are pure Rwandans and their Congoleseness is part of the policy of lies that Rwanda continues to cultivate to make the region insecure, a deception according to which they are Congolese like the others and are entitled to the national cake. Thus General Kabarebe improvised Kabare Congolese and became manu militari Chief of General Staff of the DRC army in 1996; which gave him the opportunity to plunder the minerals of which this country abounds to the point that he is among the billionaires of Rwanda. Moreover, the wealth estimated at 600 million dollars attributed to Kagame came from this booty.

2) Rwandans from Uganda

Rwandans who came from Uganda kept their Ugandan citizenship and most who made their fortune there stayed in this country. The Ugandans of origin complain about their presence and had it not been for the protection of President Museveni who recognizes their contribution in the war which offered him power in 1986, they would have been driven out long ago. In his expansionist policy, President Kagame prided himself on being able to use them to spy on the Ugandan regime and to be able to overthrow it one day. Thus, among the reasons for the recent diplomatic rift between Rwanda and Uganda was the interception of communications of interest to Rwanda passing through MTN-Uganda that a Rwandan woman intentionally assigned there transmitted to Kigali. What about the targeted assassinations of Generals James Kazini in 2009 and Kaweesi Felix in 2017 who did not appreciate Rwanda’s interference in Ugandan affairs.

3) Rwandans from Burundi

Rwandan military Tutsis who came from Burundi were actively involved in the unrest that bloodied the country in 2015 when Rwanda wanted to overthrow the Nkurunziza regime exploiting the fact that he wanted to run for a third term. Indeed, a whole battalion of Rwandans had invested the capital and carried out targeted assassinations, the most infamous of which was that of General Adolphe Nshimirimana, then head of intelligence and unmasked, they were unable to return to their country of origin on foot and the Burundian intelligence services captured them one by one; which saddened Kagame caught off guard when his tactic miserably failed unexpectedly.

4) Rwandans from Tanzania

Most of the Rwandan intellectual refugees did not return to their native land in 1994 and had joined the public administration and the country’s army. When the late Colonel Karegeya Patrick, former head of foreign intelligence who then became a dissident against Kigali, unveiled in 2012 to President Jakaya Kikwete the Kagame-Museveni plan for the creation of a Hima empire throughout the sub-region thanks to all these elements already established on the spot, all these Rwandans were expelled from Tanzania.


Nationality in the DRC is exclusive, dual nationality is not allowed. This is the interpretation of the constitution of February 18, 2006. While in Rwanda, dual nationality is allowed but its effective enjoyment is not always assured and the problem arises in terms of equality for citizens. With the civil wars, the genocide, the exclusion of some (Hutu) is always felt (see the electoral process) and their marginalization is visible. As the question becomes more and more difficult, transnational identity benefits the expansionist and parasitic desires by means of which Rwanda and Uganda have an interest in always creating rebellions in this vast country full of resources which they exploit whenever of need. Will this institutionalized lie last? When the world unmasks them, everything will crumble like a park of cards.