The UN Security Council has called on DRC President Joseph Kabila to “approve swiftly and implement fully” joint operations by Congolese troops and UN peacekeepers in the country against the FDLR militia.
In a statement, released last evening by the President of the Council for the month of January and Permanent Representative of Chile to the United Nations, Cristin Barros Melet, the Security Council urged immediate military action against the militia whose members are accused of playing a key part in the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda.
“The Security Council calls on the authorities of the DRC and, in particular, President Kabila as Commander in Chief, to approve swiftly and implement fully the MONUSCO-FARDC Joint Directive,” the statement reads in part.
Members of the Council noted that the January 2 deadline set by the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR) and the Southern African Development Community (SADC) had passed without FDLR surrendering and demobilising as required, with the militia instead continuing to recruit new fighters in their ranks.
“The Security Council, while noting the surrender of an estimated 300 former rank and file members of the FDLR in 2014, consisting of mainly old and non-essential combatants, stresses that such surrenders alone are insufficient to end the threat posed by the group, and does not come close to representing the full demobilization of the FDLR as called for by the ICGLR, SADC, and the Security Council,” the Presidential Statement added.
It underlined that the “swift neutralization of the FDLR is a top priority in bringing stability to and protecting the civilians of the DRC and the Great Lakes region, in line with the wider commitments made in the Peace, Security and Cooperation (PSC) Framework for the DRC and the region”.
The UN-backed deal, previously described by several top United Nations diplomats as “the Framework of Hope”, was endorsed by ICGLR leaders in February 2013.
It sought to garner full support of regional leaders toward the efforts to eliminate all negative forces from the Congo which would help set the country and region on the road to lasting peace and sustainable development.
The Security Council further reiterated “its readiness to consider targeted sanctions against any individual or entity found to be supporting the FDLR”.
The statement came a day after UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon spoke on phone with President Kabila and pressed him to authorise an attack on the militia group, whose members crossed into the neighboring country after participating in the slaughter of more than a million compatriots in Rwanda two decades ago.
Kigali has also called for immediate military action against the outlawed outfit and questioned the rationale of yet another ICGLR-SADC summit on FDLR, due next week in Luanda, Angola, which South African President Jacob Zuma said would chart the way forward.
In July last year, ICGLR and SADC leaders had agreed that military operations would inevitably be launched against the FDLR in case the combatants failed to disarm within the six-month ultimatum.