Punish FDLR allies, Congo’s Kabila told

A Brussels-based rights group has asked the Congolese government to punish members of its army collaborating with Rwanda Genocide elements, grouped in what is now known as the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR).In its report released on Wednesday, the International Crisis Group (ICG) urged President Joseph Kabila’s government to ‘discipline rogue national army (FARDC) and Mayi Mayi (PARECO and FAPL) combatants engaged in active collaboration with the FDLR and inciting ethnic hatred against Tutsi communities.’
BLAMED: Kabila.
BLAMED: Kabila.

A Brussels-based rights group has asked the Congolese government to punish members of its army collaborating with Rwanda Genocide elements, grouped in what is now known as the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR).In its report released on Wednesday, the International Crisis Group (ICG) urged President Joseph Kabila’s government to ‘discipline rogue national army (FARDC) and Mayi Mayi (PARECO and FAPL) combatants engaged in active collaboration with the FDLR and inciting ethnic hatred against Tutsi communities.’

FARDC and FDLR have reportedly committed joint human rights abuses against sections of Congolese and Rwandan civilians caught on the Congolese soil.

Based mainly in eastern DRC, FDLR is an amalgamation of remnants of the defunct Rwandan Armed Forces (FAR) and Interahamwe – groups which are largely responsible for the slaughter of an estimated one million people during the 1994 Rwanda Genocide.

The ICG also asked Kinshasa to ‘suspend offensive action against (Congolese rebel leader General Laurent) Nkunda’s troops and adopt a containment strategy’.

It calls on the DRC to appoint a respected senior military officer to lead a special task force (made up of officers from the Military Integration Structure and National Disarmament Program, as well as observers from the UN Mission in Congo (Monuc) to discuss with Nkunda’s representatives on the modalities for assembling his troops in designated areas of Masisi and Rutshuru territories under MONUC supervision.

Both the Rwandan government and Nkunda have accused the Congolese army (FARDC) of arming and collaborating with FDLR rebels.

The rights group also urged Kinshasa to develop a plan with Rwanda and Monuc to isolate the FDLR rebels.

The organisation blames Kabila’s government for failure to integrate Nkunda’s troops into the national army which has resulted into tense crisis in the region since mid this year.

The group blames Kabila for failing to have ‘real dialogues with Nkunda’ and urges that a comprehensive initiative be launched immediately to de-escalate the crisis and address the root causes of the conflict.

‘This new crisis results from failures of the Congo peace process on army integration, economic governance and transitional justice,’ the report reads in part.

It says that during the second half of the political transition, a policy of containment, appeasement, and international emphasis on the holding of elections cooled tensions but left their causes unaffected.

‘To compensate for the national army’s weakness, Kabila has been trying to co-opt the UN Mission (Monuc) into his operations, a move the UN should continue to resist lest it be caught in the crossfire between Nkunda and the FDLR,’ the report further states.

The ICG warns that security and humanitarian crisis in the DRC’s North Kivu region could escalate and destabilise central Africa if the root causes of the conflict are not dealt with.

North Kivu has been ravaged by a series of conflicts between Gen Nkunda’s loyalists, Mai Mai militias and government forces.

The report further calls on the international community to encourage Kabila to suspend the military offensives and launch a comprehensive peace initiative for North Kivu, aimed first, at de-escalating the conflict and improving the general security environment in the province, then addressing the core issues related to ‘restoration of state authority such as regulation of the exploitation of natural resources, return of refugees and a transitional justice process facilitating community reconciliation’.

A prolonged deadlock would inevitably result in further displacement of civilians and increased risk of ethnic cleansing and revenge killing on both sides, the report adds.

The crisis group further urges that a tripartite agreement for repatriation of Congolese refugees from Rwanda be re-negotiated and implemented with the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and Rwanda.

The group also wants the International Criminal Court (ICC) prosecution to investigate atrocities and crimes committed in the Kivus since June 2003 and prosecute those most responsible.

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