Former Congolese rebels have accused the Democratic Republic of Congo army (Forces Armées de la Republic Democratic du Congo -FARDC) of robbing them and foiling their efforts of returning home.
The ex- combatants made accusations at Mutobo Demobilisation Centre in the Northern Province recently while testifying before the joint verification commission on peace and stability in Rwanda and DRC and the Great Lakes Region.
Jean Jacque Ndajiwenayo, an ex -combatant, alleged that Congolese soldiers robbed him of $1,250 and 65,000 Congelese francs before he found his way to Rwanda.
He testified before the commission: “I was arrested together with a Congolese national but he was released after identifying himself as a citizen. They held me on claims that I belonged to Nkunda’s rebels. I was later released but they took off with all my money.”
The commission, comprising Rwandan and Congolese officials, was on its first fact-finding mission on the progress registered since the signing of the Nairobi communiqué in Nairobi, Kenya last year.
Another former soldier, Festus Byiringiro, called for the reinforcement of the UN mission (Monuc) to enable repatriation of more combatants as well as rescuing them from the ‘ruthless hands’ of the Congolese army.
“Two soldiers at the rank of lieutenant from the national army robbed me of $170 at Nzibira. I was also forced to pay for accommodation when I spent a night at a military quarter guard.”
He added: “Many Rwandans are suffering there and nobody rescues them.”
An upset Byiringiro pleaded with the commission to help in the search of his colleague, Sibomana who was arrested and detained in Warungu prison.
Faustin Ndindabahizi recounted bitter memories when he was allegedly tied with ropes by both FARDC and the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) on grounds that he was not Congolese.
He claimed that he later escaped to Rwanda through Karungu and Goma in Northern Kivu.
Established in 1997, the Rwanda Demobilisation and Reintegration Commission (RDRC) currently caters for 6,059 members of ex-armed groups.