Collaboration between FARDC and FDLR: Danger to Rwandan security

The current conflict in eastern DRC between the Government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Laurent Nkunda is a clear danger to Rwanda and indeed regional security.

The current conflict in eastern DRC between the Government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Laurent Nkunda is a clear danger to Rwanda and indeed regional security.

This is because the forces that committed Genocide in Rwanda in 1994, currently known as the FDLR, have become part and parcel of the conflict with a mission to fight and kill anybody they consider to be Tutsi.

Otherwise, it is difficult to see why they should be involved in a conflict between Laurent Nkunda, a Congolese, and his government.

None of the protagonists in the fighting in eastern DRC are Rwandan.

Both the Government and Nkunda have said they do not want the FDLR on Congolese territory.

That they have decided they do is clear testimony indeed, if any were needed, that they have become killers without borders.

Of course these forces of Genocide are one of the causes of the fighting in the first place.

They threaten, rape, and kill Congolese citizens, leading to the displacement of thousands of Congolese in South and North Kivu.

Some of their victims have been languishing in refugee camps in Rwanda for the last thirteen years.

They are preventing the DRC and the region at large from realizing its full economic potential, despite impressive endowments of natural resources.

That the FDLR are killers without borders is, unfortunately, one of the self evident truths of our time.

They killed and maimed millions of Rwandans in the 1994 Genocide.

They exported their hatred and deadly agenda to the DRC and plunged the region into turmoil for over a decade now.

And just to prove to any lingering doubters of their determination to exterminate a people, they were key architects of the massacre of innocents at Gatumba, in Burundi, working together with local Congolese commanders and various Mai Mai groups as well as the FNL –Palipehutu of Burundi.

Captured officers and soldiers who took part in the Gatumba operation have given graphic and worrying details of the cooperation between very senior FARDC local Commanders, FDLR and other negative forces in the massacre.

The UN forces (ONUB), present in the area were unable to be of protection to the innocents brutally massacred.
The coalition of negative forces that made Gatumba and other massacres possible and inevitable is once again coming into play in North Kivu.

Widespread concerns that FARDC units operating against the Nkunda forces would do so in close cooperation with the FDLR have, unfortunately, proved prescient. 

There is now overwhelming information on the collaboration of the FDLR with many FARDC units.

Congolese Commanders have supplied Genocidal troops with arms, ammunition and other war materiel.

These supplies have increased especially within the months of July, August, September and early October 2007.

The details of this collaboration will be shared with the DRC Government within the context of the Joint Verification Mechanism once the DRC has appointed their officers to the Joint Verification Teams.

 Joint military operations have been carried out between FARDC, FDLR, and other Congolese militia groups closely allied with the FDLR.

From their headquarters in the Kalongi/Masisi area in North Kivu, the leaders of the forces of Genocide send reinforcements to FARDC units on the battle front.

Some of the FDLR officers and men have been captured in battle, many in full uniforms of the Congolese armed forces with all the ranks and insignia attached thereunto.

Meanwhile, despite the repeated concerns expressed by Rwandan officials to the leadership of MONUC, this UN Force continue to fully support the FARDC forces in the current operations in Eastern DRC.

Unless the links between the Congolese units in the theatre of operations and the FDLR are verifiably severed, this UN support simply translates into support to the genocidal forces.

The support the ExFAR/Interahamwe have received from Congolese military units has emboldened them, and this does not augur well for regional peace and security. 

Ignace MURWANASYAKA, the putative leader of the FDLR has publicly acknowledged and thanked the DRC Government for the support in arming his movement.

His belligerent utterance on the BBC and other International media fan the flames of hatred in the region. The forces he leads from a comfortable exile in Germany continue to kill and maim.

The BBC and other International media do not seem to have learnt the lesson of our history that words do kill, especially in this part of the world.

They need to heed the call of the Tripartite Plus countries and desist from providing an open platform to known killers in the Great Lakes Region.

Murwanashyaka’s belligerence has been translated into action. On the night of September 30, 2007, units of the FDLR fired weapons onto Rwandan territory, in the Busesamana Sector of Rubavu District, Western Province.

What is worrying is not only that they did this – although no Rwandan was injured and the Rwandan Government is fully capable of handling attacks on her territory – but also the fact that the attackers passed through the defense lines of a unit of the FARDC 9th Brigade and withdrew through the same lines unhindered.

Indeed, the unit that carried out the attack had previously received arms and ammunition from Congolese Commanders. 

This the second attack from the FDLR this year.

On March 3, 2007, artillery shells were fired on Rwandan territory, in the same area.

The attacking FDLR firing position was very close to a Congolese Army Unit.

All these issues and concerns have been raised with the Government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and clarifications sought.

The FDLR has been under pressure since late 2004, to disarm and repatriate.

This relentless pressure from the region, the African Union and the International Community in general has had the effect of thwarting FDLR plans against Rwanda.

It has also led to increasing stability in the region, allowed the signing of a Stability and Development Pact for the Great Lakes Region, enabled the ongoing revival of the Economic Community of Countries of the Great Lakes Region (CEPGL), and led to the current improvement in bilateral relations between Rwanda and the DRC.

The return of this group to the forefront in the current conflict between the Government of the DRC and Laurent Nkunda threatens to reverse all these positive gains.

With the current force levels in North Kivu, be they Government forces or MONUC forces, and the willingness of the African Union to be helpful as expressed in their January 2005 Libreville declaration, there is no longer any excuse to defer and/or delay the forcible disarmament of the FDLR along the lines agreed by the Tripartite Plus Chiefs of Defense and endorsed by the Tripartite Plus Ministers. 

The writer is the Presidential Special Envoy to the Great Lakes Region

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