Mushikiwabo blames FDLR stalemate on 'cheap politics'

Foreign Affairs minister Louise Mushikiwabo has told MPs that “cheap politicking” by some international actors was the reason for delayed military action against the FDLR militia, a terrorist outfit based in eastern DR Congo.
Mushikiwabo (L), shares ideas with Deputy Speaker Abbas Mukama (C) and MP Zenon Mutimura at Parliament yesterday. (Courtesy)
Mushikiwabo (L), shares ideas with Deputy Speaker Abbas Mukama (C) and MP Zenon Mutimura at Parliament yesterday. (Courtesy)

Foreign Affairs minister Louise Mushikiwabo has told MPs that “cheap politicking” by some international actors was the reason for delayed military action against the FDLR militia, a terrorist outfit based in eastern DR Congo.

Mushikiwabo was yesterday appearing before the parliamentary Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Cooperation and Security where she had been invited to shed light on the state of Rwanda’s foreign policy, international relations, diplomacy and cooperation.

Legislators had expressed concerns over the delay by Congolese army (FARDC) and the UN Mission in Congo (Monusco) to launch military action to flush out the militia group, regardless of the recent declarations made by both parties.

A deadline given for the FDLR to voluntarily disarm or face the wrath of military offensive expired on January 2. More than a month later, the parties tasked with the offensive as well as the world are embroiled in rhetorics.

Mushikiwabo blamed the inaction on a cabal of politicians at the international level, whom she said had tried all they could to undermine Rwanda’s development but after failing, resorted to using proxy militia groups like FDLR to remain relevant.

Latest reports that Monusco halted support to Congolese troops for operations against the genocidal militia point to what Minister Mushikiwabo called part of an ongoing charade of the FDLR and their international supporters.

“Monusco has never announced that they had started operations, so how can they now announce they are pulling out? Based on what?” Mushikiwabo, who is also government spokesperson, posed while speaking to The New Times yesterday.

Media reports this week quoted a UN official as saying that Monusco was not ready to work with the Congolese forces to launch an offensive against FDLR because they would not work with two army generals who are part of the operation and are linked to human rights violations.

This followed a decision by Kinshasa to appoint Gen. Bruno Mandevu to head the FARDC operation against the FDLR and Gen. Fall Sikabwe as commander of the 34th military region, largely covering eastern DR Congo’s vast North Kivu Province where the offensive would happen.

The Monusco excuse, observers say, is just another ploy to delay the offensive against the militia as the record of the generals had never been raised before.

Mushikiwabo, without naming anyone, said few politicians with individual political goals resorted to using the terror group to undermine Rwanda’s peace and security.

She added that such political games hindered the United Nations Security Council from being preventers, but rather managers of international crimes and civil wars.

FDLR is made up of remnants of those who took part in the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.

On Tuesday, the Minister for Defence, James Kabarebe, told the same parliamentary committee that one of the major threats posed by the FDLR was the spreading of genocide ideology.

Mushikiwabo echoed Kabarebe’s comments saying that some politicians on the international level and some Rwandan nationals joined the militia group in using genocide ideology.

“Genocide ideology is cheap politics; it should not surprise us that some of these are Rwandans even though there could be some few individual politicians from the international community.

“Whoever lacks credentials and the hard work it takes to be part of the Rwandan politics, they revert to using genocide ideology, because it is the easiest, and the most sensitive part of the history. This is much more of petty politics than anything else,” said Mushikiwabo.

Mushikiwabo said FDLR had been turned into an instrument of hate to Rwanda, used by every person who would wish to do wrong to our country, including Rwanda National Congress (RNC).

A regional framework had given the FDLR up to January 2 to voluntarily disarm or face military action, but nothing has been done.

editorial@newtimes.co.rw

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