GOMA/GISENYI – The Democratic Republic of Congo, national army FARDC, is “very capable and has the will” to carry on with operations against the remaining FDLR elements, top military officials asserted yesterday.
The assertion was made by Gen. James Kabarebe, Rwandan Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) and DRC’s Lt. Gen. John Numbi –the top Commander of the just concluded joint FARDC-RDF operations against FDLR elements respectively.
The two scoffed at reports that FDLR are able to retake positions they have been repulsed from.
“As we speak, the FARDC on their own have just killed three of them (FDLR) and captured one and several arms,” Numbi revealed, reiterating that operations against the FDLR were still on, a fact also echoed by Gen. Kabarebe.
It was revealed that two senior FDLR officers – a Colonel and a Major, were also in contact with both FARDC and MONUC, seeking to surrender.
“The end of these joint operations doesn’t mean the return of FDLR. The end of joint operations is simply the start of operations against FDLR,” Gen. Kabarebe said.
“I don’t believe what people say – that the FDLR are stronger than FARDC. It is simply not possible, not even a single bit!” he added, stressing that he was sure FARDC would finish off the FDLR.
“We have been operating together and they have got the capacity and the might,” he noted.
“We believe the Congolese army has the capacity and the might to finish off the remaining FDLR,” Kabarebe told reporters shortly after the last batch of forces crossed into Rwanda at the main border post in Gisenyi town.
Earlier in the morning, after the second RDF contingent had crossed the border, Numbi stressed that the FDLR has now lost trust and support of the Congolese.”
“The FDLR have lost all their resources including the trust of the population including the Traditional Chiefs (Bami). The FARDC are now hitting and chasing them everywhere they go,” he maintained.
Traditional leaders concurred with the generals, as expressed by Modeste Kabori, the Mwami of Bukoma location in Rutshuru territory, earlier in an exclusive interview at Goma’s Ihusi Hotel.
The Bami (traditional leaders) recently travelled to Kinshasa to meet President Joseph Kabila, a trip which convinced Kabori of government’s will to pacify eastern DRC.
“I observed that the President was passionate about the issue of returning peace and security to the regions of North and South Kivu,” he emphasised.
The two Commanders witnessed, both the morning and late afternoon final phases of Rwandan troops departure from the DRC.
It is worth noting that the Congolese army’s fighting power was recently boosted by the incorporation into its ranks of thousands of former rebel fighters, especially the CNDP and Pareco.
“It is now that the FDLR will have serious problems. They should come out now and return home peacefully or FARDC will hit them hard and they will have no chance to return peacefully,” Numbi warned.
“My impression is good, because they have done a very good job in a very short time – secured eastern Congo,” he noted.
Numbi underscored that no more Rwandan troops remained on DRC soil apart from four officers – working on a final report.
“This was the last contingent of the Rwandan troops. What remains in Congo are just four officers of the joint operations’ high command,” he stressed.
In his message to both countries’ citizens, Gen. Numbi firmly stressed that relations between the two countries were at their best and would even get better.