Reports from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) indicate that ‘disarmed’ FDLR elements have been allowed to relocate to Kisenge in DRC’s south-eastern Katanga Province.
The United Nations-funded Radio Okapi, revealed Wednesday that the move is a bid to diminish the militia’s security threat to Rwanda.
DRC Information Minister Lambert Mende could not be reached yesterday for comment but Maj. Vianney Kazalama, the Congolese army (FARDC) spokesperson in North Kivu, acknowledged the development.
“Those FDLR requested to move and it is in that regard that those not deemed as a danger to Rwanda or had no role in the Genocide moved,” Maj. Kazalama said on phone yesterday.
According to Radio Okapi, about 30 FDLR fighters and 106 of their dependants were moved last Sunday from the Masisi region of North Kivu province to Lubumbashi, the capital of Katanga. Later, on Monday, they moved to Kisenge, in the district of Lualaba - which is near the border with Angola.
Nonetheless, Radio Okapi indicates that the group was removed the Rwandan border to ensure their safety until their repatriation to Rwanda.
Even though the relocated FDLR members are reported to have voluntarily disarmed, it is said that their move has caused concern among Kisenge residents.
“Ever since Congo and Rwanda re-established good relations, we are collaborating on this and we have a list of those who are wanted – they can never be taken in this group,” said Kazalama.
“They are now 600 kilometers from Lubumbashi – this is not part of the military programme but is instead a new disarmament initiative by Pastor Mulunda Ngoy who is exchanging arms for money”.
In a new ‘weapons buy-back programme,’ in the war-torn eastern province of North Kivu, the DRC government is offering residents as well as militia US$50 per weapon handed in.
According to a statement issued Tuesday by DRC Information Minister Lambert Mende, the three-month “firearms for $50” project will “apply the final touches to the process of pacifying the east.”