Five senior Malawian military officers arrived in the country on Monday for a four-day visit meant to boost bilateral military ties.
Maj. Gen. Clement Namangale, the Chief of Staff of the Malawi Defence Forces, the head of the delegation, told reporters shortly after the initial series of meetings at the Ministry of Defence headquarters in Kigali that their tour was aimed at cementing military ties and learning from Rwanda’s progress.
“There is a success story here, considering the short history of the RDF (Rwanda Defence Forces) and the achievements made in the recent past, especially in the area of peacekeeping,” Namangale said.
Military and Defence spokesperson Brig. Gen. Joseph Nzabamwita said: “This visit enhances our bilateral and military relations.”
Malawi has troops in the 3,000-strong special UN Force Intervention Brigade (FIB), the first UN peacekeeping unit mandated to conduct targeted operations to neutralise armed groups, in the eastern DR Congo, including remnants of the masterminds of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.
The UN as well as the ICGLR and SADC have warned that military force will be used against the FDLR militia if it does not surrender by January 2.
“As the delegation from Malawi visits, they are also looking at developments in the country and how the country is able to receive those who voluntarily disarm and surrender from the FDLR,” Nzabamwita said.
He, however stressed that the discussions with the Malawian delegation “had nothing to do with fighting the FDLR.”
Malawian peacekeeping contingents and military observers have been in the DR Congo since 1999, Namangale said.
“The FIB is an important operation closer to our heart and to Rwanda. We are sharing views and, at operational level, we’ve been made to understand the challenges for both of us – Malawi on the one hand, then SADC and Rwanda, on the other hand,” Namangale added.
He said he had no authority to speak for SADC but stressed that “we hope we’ll stick to the roadmap of our political masters” in both the Great Lakes region and SADC.
“It is in their interest, it is in our interest, and it is in the interest of Rwandans as well,” he said.
The delegation was scheduled to tour several military facilities, including the RDF Command and Staff College- Nyakinama, the Rwanda Peace Academy (RPA), the Military Medical Insurance (MMI) scheme, as well as take a trip to the Rwanda-DR Congo border before concluding their visit at the end of the week.