KIGALI - International media reports that rebels of the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), are recruiting former Burundian rebels into their ranks have been dismissed by Rwanda, Burundi and the United Nations Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (MONUC).
Some international news agencies claimed that Burundi’s former rebel elements are joining the FDLR with the lure of a share of gold and diamonds.
“We recently met with Burundian officials and the intelligence information we shared has nothing to that effect,” Maj. Jill Rutaremara, Spokesperson of Rwanda Defence Forces (RDF).
“These are therefore speculations and that is how I take them because it would be of no interest to the Burundians not to share it with us if it were true.”
His Burundian counterpart, Gen. Lazart Nduwayo also scoffed at the reports.
“This is very new to me and I don’t believe it,” Nduwayo told The New Times.
“The rumours you are hearing could be about the FNL rebel group which is the last rebellion that has not completely integrated,” Nduwayo told The New Times yesterday.
When contacted, MONUC’s military Spokesperson, Lt Col Jean Paul Dietrich said despite the fact that the mission is not involved in Burundi, they are monitoring to prevent what he called a likelihood of “small scale infiltrations” by Burundi’s FNL faction into the DRC.
“FNL combatants do not necessarily join the FDLR but any other armed group like the Mai-Mai or others but these infiltrations are really very small,” said Dietrich.
However both Nduwayo and Dietrich confirmed reports that small groups of FDLR rebels have been fleeing into Burundi from DRC.
“Yes, that is true and, we have captured two of them already. But you must understand that those fleeing are very few, usually one or two or in very small groups that can even go up to ten,” said Nduwayo.
“They are fleeing maybe because they are worn-out by the war in the Congo and they are no real threat to us.”
Dietrich expressed concern stressing that the matter shouldn’t be taken lightly.
“There have been small FDLR infiltrations into Burundi but the number may increase as pressure mounts on them.
If pressure increases, the FDLR problem might be exported to Burundi and maybe, the three countries will have to work together to deal with the situation,” said Dietrich.
The rebel group, which is mainly composed of elements responsible for the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, has been facing attacks from the Congolese army since the beginning of this year.