Foreign affairs minister Louise Mushikiwabo, has said that the international community should act upon its promise and immediately disarm or “eradicate” the FDLR, a terrorist outfit responsible for the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi that is now based in the DR Congo.
Mushikiwabo said that it was baffling that FDLR had managed to exist for over 20 years, yet the United Nations Security Council and western powers acknowledge that genocide is an international crime that must not be tolerated.
She spoke ahead of Saturday’s meeting of security chiefs of the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR) and the Southern African Development Community in Angola to assess the security situation in the Eastern DR Congo.
The meeting, according to a statement issued by the ICGLR, is to prepare for the Monday meeting of ministers of defence and foreign affairs.
“I cannot recall a time when anyone said that FDLR is a bunch of good guys that we should preserve them. Everybody says that they should be eradicated and that they should disarm, but this has been the speech for many years. I would hope that the FDLR is not seen as an issue for Rwanda but as an international problem,” she said.
“As far as the government is concerned, the shelf life of FDLR has expired... This is an armed group associated with genocide, so I hope that everybody would want to fight them. What we want as Rwanda is political will from the world.”
Early this month, the UN Security Council reiterated that a “swift neutralisation” of the FDLR is a prerequisite in bringing stability and protecting civilians in DR Congo and the Great Lakes region.
October 2 marked half-way point of the six-month timeframe for the voluntary surrender of the FDLR as set out by the joint ICGLR-SADC meeting of ministers of defence on July 2.
Mushikiwabo said that Rwanda as a country cannot singlehandedly wage military action against the FDLR, because complex regional and international politics.
“The politics of the region, mingled with non-regional acts, have given FDLR the conducive environment to exist for over two decades – and it is difficult for Rwanda to say that we are going to deal robustly with the FDLR,”
“What is in our power as a country is to make sure that our borders and people are protected from FDLR actions and ideologies – and trust me whatever the situation; we are ready.”
The government drafted a policy to repatriate and reintegrate members of FDLR and so far, government figures show that over 11,000 of them have returned, many of whom were active rebels in FLDR ranks.
“We have had a very simple policy for FDLR for many years now, to repatriate those who want to come back and integrate them. We have done this successfully, many people have returned including high ranking officers who now serve in the current Rwanda Defense Force, as well as many ordinary citizens who now live peacefully in Rwandan villages,” she said.
“Those who do not want to repatriate and reintegrate, there has always been one option and that is military action. Therefore, we ask countries to abide by the resolutions they have voted and supported, and to honor the decisions made by various regional and international organisations.”
The ICGLR-SADC members states includes Angola, Botswana, Burundi, Central African Republic, Republic of Congo, DR Congo, Kenya, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Rwanda, Seychelles, South Africa, South Sudan, Swaziland, Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.