KIGALI - Rwanda has welcomed the recent agreement between the Congolese government and numerous rebel groups operating in the country’s east.
But once again Rwanda has urged the international community to act on Rwandan rebels holed up there.
DR Congo’s main rebel group led by General Laurent Nkunda on Wednesday signed a peace agreement in North Kivu town of Goma with Kinshasa following two weeks of negations between the government and a couple of rebel groups.
Foreign Affairs Minister Dr Charles Murigande said Kigali sees the deal as an opportunity to help President Joseph Kabila’s government implement is commitments under a November 9, 2007 agreement with Rwanda.
Under that accord, signed by Murigande and his Congolese counterpart Mbusa Nyamwisi in the Kenyan Capital Nairobi, DRC committed itself to disarm and repatriate members of the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), a Rwandan rebel outfit based in eastern Congo.
“We welcome the (Goma) agreement and hope the commitments taken by the armed groups and the Congolese government will be implemented. It is good that they have already ceased fire,” Murigande said yesterday.
On Thursday, Murigande received in his office two diplomats from the European Union and the US – who participated in the Kivu Conference – who briefed him about the conference outcome.
In that meeting, Murigande and other government officials expressed support for the inter-Congolese peace deal while at the same time reiterating Rwanda’s call on the UN to among others impose sanctions on FDLR leaders.
Murigande said that they sought to know from the two diplomats EU’s Roeland Van de Geer and US’ Tim Shortley on what the international community is doing to help DRC implement part of its bargain under the Nairobi peace accord. The envoys were accompanied by the Head of the EU Commission to Rwanda David MacRae and the US Ambassador Michael Arietti.
“We clearly stated that the main problem of DRC is the presence of FDLR (on Congolese territory) and requested them to be more pro-active – to impose sanctions (on FDLR), give more mandate to Monuc (UN peacekeepers in Congo) and to give money to DRC government (to help implement the Nairobi agreement),” Dr Murigande said by telephone.
The UN, EU and the US, all of which witnessed the signing of the Nairobi agreement committed themselves to providing necessary support to help the DRC government disarm the Rwandan rebels, who crossed the border after leading the 1994 Genocide in which an estimated one million Rwandans perished.
He indicated that since the Kivu agreement would help end the threat posed by Congolese rebels, Kinshasa should now be able to concentrate on eliminating FDLR rebels from their territory. Kabila’s government shared a comprehensive disarmament plan with Rwanda last December and is expected to start disarming the militants in March.
FDLR is an amalgamation of extremist members of the defunct Rwanda Armed Forces (FAR) and Interahamwe militias, both of which played a leading role in the Genocide.
The group has since 1994 been at the centre of unending conflicts in DRC, which at one time involved six states and scores of numerous rebel groups, and is accused of continuing to target and kill Congolese civilians.
In a related development, the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR) has lauded the successful outcome of the Goma conference for peace, security, and development in the provinces of North and South Kivu.
In a statement issued on Thursday by its Secretariat in Bujumbura, ICGLR commended all parties involved in this conference and President Joseph Kabila for taking this initiative.
The regional body saluted the principal conference leaders whose efforts contributed to the successful conclusion of the conference.
FDLR, which was blacklisted by the US as a terrorist organisation and branded a negative group by a regional four-nation political forum, is also blamed for massacres of thousands of civilians in DRC, Burundi and Uganda.