A militia group linked to Rwanda National Congress (RNC) in eastern region of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) have been “significantly weakened” by recent operations by Congolese forces, a new UN report indicates. RNC is a terror group led by Kayumba Nyamwasa, a Rwandan fugitive living in South Africa, who was pinned in a previous report as the leader of a terror group known as “P5.” P5 was operating in DR Congo’s South Kivu province in 2018, and the latest report of the UN Group of Experts on DR Congo described P5 as the armed branch of the Rwanda National Congress (RNC) together with other outfits. According to the latest report by the UN Group pf Experts, militia operating under this armed group were weakened by Congolese forces last year in an operation dubbed “Sokola II” as part of the Government’s efforts to secure the region. “The Group found that P5, the armed branch of Rwanda National Congress (RNC), was significantly weakened by the FARDC operation “Sokola II” and had decamped from Bijabo, Uvira territory, as of April 2019, to settle in North Kivu,” UN experts said in a report. Experts say that they spoke to five ex-P5 combatants, four P5 leaders, two FARDC officers and three civil society sources, and five ex-combatants and two P5 leaders confirmed that recruitment of combatants had continued during the reporting period. “One ex-combatant explained how, in February 2019, a man named “Vichimo”, whom he said was a Rwandan national, had lured him and 16 others into the P5 on the promise of work in the Democratic Republic of the Congo,” the report says. Another ex-combatant confirmed that, around the same time, between 20 and 30 new recruits from Burundi, Rwanda and Uganda had been brought to the camp in Bijabo. All ex-combatants said that, once recruited, they had transited Bujumbura, Burundi, where Burundian individuals had provided logistical assistance and coordinated their transfer to Bijabo. This was consistent with past reports. The Group of experts said in a report that they wrote to Burundian authorities in that connection and had not received a response at the time of drafting the present report. Ex-combatants said that the late Charles Sibomana had led the P5 in Bijabo, with Habib Mudathiru, also known as “Colonel” Musa, in charge of training, Richard Hitimana in charge of supply and logistics, Richard Ntare in charge of administration and Jean-Paul Nyirinkindi as a political officer. Ex-combatants added that, before fleeing Bijabo, the P5 had had 200–250 combatants. The Group spoke to Nyamwasa, often cited by ex-combatants as the overall P5 leader. “He acknowledged his role within the Rwanda National Congress but denied being the leader of the military group in Bijabo,” the experts said. Major (rtd) Habib Mudathiru, RNC’s top commander, was later captured and handed over to Rwanda alongside other rebels last year and now facing trial in courts. FARDC operations Three ex-combatants, one P5 leader and an FARDC officer said that, in April 2019, P5 combatants had received instructions to decamp from Bijabo to Masisi via Kalehe. In Kalehe, they had been temporarily hosted by combatants of the National Council for Democratic Renewal (CNRD) – a breakaway faction of the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) militia group also based in DRC. In June 2019, P5 combatants were surrounded and fought by the Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (FARDC) around Kashovu in Masisi territory during which many were killed and some were captured. Several combatants fled to Binza, Rutshuru territory, and met with RUD-Urunana and FDLR combatants, according to two ex-combatants and two civil society representatives. The New Times spoke to some of the ex-rebels and their dependents early this year who were repatriated to Rwanda in December last, including ‘Brigadier General’ David Mberabahizi. Mberabahizi, a former military para-commando in ex-FAR, was in charge of security advisory and resistance for CNRD, a job he said he had held since 2016 when he left FDLR. FDLR is composed of anti-Rwanda elements, including genocidaires who have been operating in the eastern Congo since 1994, and have continuously destablised Rwanda during the past two decades. Professor Eric Ndushabandi, the director of the Institute of Research and Dialogue for Peace (IRDP), an independent Think tank, says restoring peace in the region will require collective efforts. “Collective security should be a priority for all. This is an idealistic call and countries ought to understand that threat against one is threat against all,” he commented on the report. While the report calls the members of the armed groups that operate in Congo as rebels, Ndushabandi insists that some groups have “ideological orientation that do not deserve to be called rebels.” This is because the members in those groups don’t have any known political line, he added, highlighting a case of the FDLR, comprised of members who left the country after the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi. The political analyst suggests that multilateral cooperation is what countries should adopt, for instance through joint forces and operations, which he believes would put an end to insecurity in the region.