KIGALI - The arrest in France Monday of the FDLR Executive Secretary, on an International Criminal Court (ICC) arrest warrant for war crimes and crimes against humanity allegedly committed in the eastern DRC, has dealt a heavy blow to the terrorist group, activists have concluded.
Callixte Mbarushimana’s arrest comes at the heels of the November 2009 arrest of FDLR leader Ignace Murwanashyaka and his deputy, Straton Musoni, in Germany.
“This arrest is good news and may weaken the FDLR in the Congo. The main political leaders are in jail. The FDLR are struck on the head,” said Alain Gauthier, the President of a France-based organization - Collectif des Parties Civile pour le Rwanda (CPCR), which works to bring Genocide fugitives there to book.
Maj. Gen. Paul Rwarakabije, a commissioner in the Rwanda Demobilisation and Reintegration Commission (RDRC), and a former FDLR commander, doubts the efficiency of Mbarushimana’s replacement, given the enormous work the latter has been doing in the groups Diaspora circles.
“The contacts that Mbarushimana had made outside there just won’t continue. There will be an impact on their soldiers in Congo since the trust they normally put to those operating from outside will diminish,” said Rwarakabije.
According to Rwarakabije, normally FDLR’s Deputy Executive Secretary – Lt. Col. Laurent Ndagijimana, could be the likely replacement, but since he is not in Europe but based in the DRC’s Walikale jungles, he “would not operate freely” like his predecessor.
He added that even the current FDLR supremo in DRC, General Gaston Iyamuremye (aka Rumuli Michel), doesn’t move freely and is limited to conducting most operations or work on phone.
Gauthier concurs with Rwarakabije, saying that since the arrest of Murwanashyaka and his deputy, Mbarushimana’s political power had increased largely because of his networking flexibility in Europe.
Nonetheless, the CPCR president cautions that the FDLR are probably “not completely defeated” and that they have many supporters in France.
“It seems that the city of Rouen, France, is a real “nest of wasps.” Their supporters there could be many. His arrest brings to light again on the presence in France of a significant number of genocide suspects,” Gauthier observes.