DRC army accuses advocacy groups of ‘cooking up reports’

The Congolese army (FARDC) has accused advocacy groups of intentionally being fed with false and dangerous information by FDLR rebel elements, to ‘cook up treacherous reports’ and continue instilling chaos in the country’s ‘now recuperating east.’

The Congolese army (FARDC) has accused advocacy groups of intentionally being fed with false and dangerous information by FDLR rebel elements, to ‘cook up treacherous reports’ and continue instilling chaos in the country’s ‘now recuperating east.’

The accusations came after an advocacy group; Global Witness, issued a press release on Thursday, saying that former CNDP rebels--now integrated into FARDC ranks, have asserted "mafia-style" control over lucrative mining sites in the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

Major Vianney Kazalama, the FARDC spokesperson in the east, maintained yesterday that CNDP no longer has troops in Congo.

CNDP is the National Council for the Defence of the People, a rebel movement that was last year integrated into the national army after a truce with the DRC government.

“We have also seen the report, but you must understand that a person who says that doesn’t wish Congo any peace at all,” Kazalama said.

“I met with those women (Global Witness researchers) here in Goma and I know for sure that they got most of what they published from FDLR people.”

The Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) is a Rwandan militia group whose members include perpetrators of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda. 

When contacted yesterday, Global Witness campaigners Annie Dunnebacke, one of the authors of the report, denied Kazalama’s claims.

“On this [particular] research trip, we actually did not meet any FDLR people, we got information from a very wide variety of people like NGOs – we didn’t speak to the FDLR,” Dunnebacke said.

Major Kazalama strongly contested everything in Global Witness’ release noting that the group and others have often published false reports purposely to “set off conflict in the country.”

He stressed that some sections of westerners are hedged on seeing continued conflict in the region, a situation he maintains, they hugely benefit from.

“When there is trouble here, they keep earning from it in various ways, and they really don’t want to see an end to this conflict. But we have now resolved to end it, have peace and develop our country.”

The leader of the separatist PARECO movement, 'General' Kakule Sikuli, alias La Fontaine, surrendered to the Congolese armed forces early this month and it is believed his surrender will have a positive effect on regional stability.

Lambert Mende, the DRC Minister of Information has said that his country is forming a competent national army to take over from MONUC when they leave the country next year.

With an estimated annual budget of more than $1 billion, MONUC is the largest and most expensive UN peacekeeping operation in any country.

Human rights groups, including Amnesty International, have recently opposed the proposed withdrawal of UN troops from DRC saying massacres, rapes and looting continue unabated.

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