A top Congolese government official yesterday noted that this year has seen remarkable progress in the battle against the FDLR and reiterated that more pressure would be seen in 2010 to totally wipe out the militia group.
In an exclusive interview with The New Times on phone, Lambert Mende, DRC Information Minister said that two separate military campaigns against the FDLR in 2009 have trimmed down the rebels’ capacity to cause danger.
Mainly operating in the eastern part of the DRC, the FDLR (Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda) militia is largely composed of ex-FAR and Interahamwe militia responsible for the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi and has been branded by the United Nations as a terrorist group.
“What they represented as a danger has been reduced – we are continuing to search for others as they try to escape into bushes and that is why we are now reinforcing police presence in villages so that the army can be free to pursue them,” Mende noted.
“With operation Umoja Wetu and now operation Kimia II, more than 1,000 have been killed and more than 1,500 repatriated,” Mende said, stressing that the group has “not only killed people in our country (DRC) but they have also killed people in Rwanda”.
After the Genocide,t he FDLR fled into neighbouring DRC where they have continued killing, raping and pillaging people’s property for the past 15 years.
The chairman of the Rwanda Demobilization and Reintegration Commission (RDRC), Jean Sayinzoga, recently revealed that over 8,000 former FDLR combatants and dependants have so far been integrated into Rwandan society since the establishment of the commission in 2001.
Mende noted that in 2010, military operations will focus on small remote villages, with the sole aim of totally cutting the rebels’ supply lines and freeing the remainder of the local population.
Top Rwandan and DRC government officials recently met in the Congolese capital, Kinshasa within the framework of the revived Joint Permanent Commission (JPC) to discuss bilateral issues, especially security and economic collaboration.
DRC officials are reported to have reiterated their government’s commitment to work jointly with Rwanda in stamping out the FDLR from their territory.