REGIONAL - The president of Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), Dr Ignace Murwanashyaka, has officially said that former Congolese president late Laurent Kabila supplied the rebel group with arms. Murwanashyaka who was appearing on Gahuzamiryango, a Kinyarwanda-Kirundi BBC news programme on Friday, also said the current Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) government was aware of that support.
“We did not loot the arms but we were supplied with ammunition by Mzee Kabila to help him fight RPF (Rwanda Patriotic Front),” he said.
“It is not a secret because everyone knows it and the arms we have are registered.”
He said following the request by the Congolese government, FDLR fighters regrouped in the eastern Congo from as far as the Gabon, Angola and other central and southern African countries.
The Rwandan rebels had fled to a number of countries in 1997 after the fall of the then government of Mobutu Sese Seko following a Rwanda-backed war that brought Kabila (senior) to power.
The disclosure comes amid growing reports that Kinshasa is behind FDLR, something that was recently confirmed by FDLR war captives who were captured by Congolese rebel leader General Laurent Nkunda’s men.
Murwanashyaka said FDLR cannot simply lay down arms since they were invited back by the Congolese authorities under a political understanding.
Laurent Kabila, father to the current Congolese President Joseph Kabila was assassinated in January 2001, before his son went on to succeed him.
Murwanashyaka said FDLR maintains a strong military presence in North and South provinces, where he said the rebel group has a number of units.
However, Kigali greeted the FDLR leader’s radio statements with anger.
President Paul Kagame’s Special envoy to the Great Lakes Region, Dr Richard Sezibera, called for Murwanashyaka’s arrest.
“Murwanashyaka should be in prison now and someone needs to explain to the Rwandan community why he is given airtime on BBC,” he said.
Currently based in Germany, Murwanashyaka traveled out of Congo in April last year via Uganda in violation of a UN travel and financial embargo.
Rwanda accuses him of leading a negative force responsible for the 1994 Genocide and subsequent massacres across the region.
“We are not scared that they will attack us because they can’t and if they try, then that would be their end, but we are certainly concerned that their presence in DRC is causing regional insecurity,” Sezibera said.
Though he refuted that FDLR levy taxes on Congolese, Murwanashyaka admitted the rebels have established ‘official’ documents for their fighters to enable them move from ‘one FDLR unit to another’.
Gen. Nkunda accuses DRC of working with FDLR, a group which he says has ushered terror on Congolese Tutsis with a mission of exterminating them in the same way they perpetrated the 1994 Genocide.
Nkunda’s Spokesperson Maitre Abandi said during the same BBC Friday programme: “We need an explanation from our (Congolese) government why they are supporting the Genocidaires.”
He said Kinshasa had no right to award FDLR part of the Congo territory.
He also said Murwanashyaka’s pronouncement that the Rwandan rebels were armed by Congolese government vindicated their continued insistence that Kinshasa was in bed with the rebel group.
Nkunda insists he won’t stop fighting FDLR and other groups that target Congolese civilians in the country’s east. He has also called for peace talks with Kinshasa but that later has said it would not talk peace with the General.
Efforts to reconcile both sides collapsed mid this year after Congolese forces attacked troops loyal to Nkunda.