MATADI – The three military chiefs of member states of the Economic Community of the Great Lakes Countries (CEPGL), a regional grouping that brings together Rwanda, Democratic Republic Congo and Burundi, agreed on Tuesday to maintain military pressure on FDLR rebels in eastern of DRC.
Rwanda’s Chief of Defense Staff, Gen. James Kabarebe, DRC army Chief, Lt. Gen. Didier Etumba and Burundi’s Maj. Gen. Godefroid Niyombari, made the commitment during a meeting held in the western Congolese port city of Matadi to evaluate the recently concluded UN-backed “Operation Kimia II”.
The commander of UN peacekeepers in DRC, Gen. Babacar Gaye, was also present.
The army chiefs expressed approval for previous offensives and agreed to maintain pressure so as to ensure the success of the new and ongoing three-month campaign against the FDLR code-named “Operation Amani Leo”.
They also recommended setting up a joint monitoring mechanism and the sharing of intelligence information.
It was also agreed that there is need to step up the population’s awareness to dissociate from FDLR.
RDF spokesperson Maj. Jill Rutaremara said that the Matadi session observed that FDLR’s strength has been drastically reduced, with many rebels either killed or captured, bastions dismantled, and their military command and administrative structures disrupted.
“The FDLR have been cut off from their sources of supply and funding, especially from most mining areas and now lack population support and medicine,” Rutaremara said.
Burundi’s Maj. Gen. Niyombari advocated for the intensification of intelligence exchanges so as to dismantle FDLR networks and secure the border, whereas Gen. Gaye reiterated the need for regular meetings between FARDC and RDF so as to harmonize plans.
The Congolese army chief reassured his counterparts that his army will relentlessly hunt down the rebels until they are completely eradicated.
The next meeting is scheduled for April 15, 2010