Regional defence and foreign affairs ministers on Monday reiterated that military force should be used against a Rwandan terrorist group based in neighbouring DR Congo, if it does not surrender by January 2, 2015.
Meeting at the third joint ministerial International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR) and Southern African Development Community (SADC) summit in Luanda, Angola, they observed that there has been no progress concerning the expected voluntary disarmament and surrender of the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) militia.
The ministers directed the joint ICGLR-SADC Secretariat to monitor progress of the disarmament and surrender of the militia, in partnership with the government of DR Congo, the UN Mission (Monusco), and chairpersons of both regional groupings “to ensure compliance with agreed timelines,” a joint ICGLR-SADC statement reads in part.
October 2 marked the half-way point of the six-month timeframe for the voluntary surrender of the FDLR as set by the joint ICGLR-SADC meeting of ministers of defence on July 2.
The FDLR, which has entrenched itself in the jungles of Rwanda’s vast western neighbour for the past 20 years, is a genocidal militia whose members are accused of planning and perpetrating the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.
Regional Heads of State and Government, in their second mini-summit of August 14 held in Luanda, as well as the 34th SADC summit of August 17 and 18 held in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe, reiterated a six-month ultimatum for the voluntary disarmament and surrender of the FDLR.
Earlier before the ministers’ meeting, security chiefs of the ICGLR and SADC met last Saturday to assess the security situation in the eastern DR Congo and the region.
They reviewed the implementation of the decisions of the joint meeting of ICGLR-SADC ministers of defence and Foreign Affairs held on July 2.
Early this month, the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) reiterated that the “swift neutralisation” of the FDLR is a top priority in bringing stability to the DR Congo and the Great Lakes region.
The UNSC called on the Kinshasa government to work closely with Monusco to undertake military action against leaders and members of the FDLR who do not engage in the demobilisation process or who continue to carry out human rights abuses.
The UNSC rejected any call for political dialogue with the FDLR and reaffirmed the need to arrest and bring to justice those responsible for genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity.
The Council reaffirmed support for regional commitments made by the ICGLR and SADC to end the threat of armed groups and undertake a three-month review of the FDLR disarmament process.
The ICGLR-SADC member states include 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.