The FDLR: Anatomy of a conflict fueling group in the Great Lakes Region

PART IV 4. INTERNATIONAL INITIATIVES TO END THE FDLR THREAT There have been various initiatives to end the FDLR threat, but none of them has led to tangible results. The lack of good will on the part of the DRC government and lack of commitment on the part of the international community seem to have been the major factors underlying the failure to neutralize FDLR.
Tripartite Plus Joint Commission (TPJC) meeting in Lumumbashi, DRC.
Tripartite Plus Joint Commission (TPJC) meeting in Lumumbashi, DRC.

PART IV

4. INTERNATIONAL INITIATIVES TO END THE FDLR THREAT

There have been various initiatives to end the FDLR threat, but none of them has led to tangible results.

The lack of good will on the part of the DRC government and lack of commitment on the part of the international community seem to have been the major factors underlying the failure to neutralize FDLR.

These initiatives include the Lusaka agreement, Pretoria agreement, Tripartite (Plus), Bilateral engagements and International Conference on Peace, Security, Democracy and Development in the Great Lakes Region.

Lusaka Agreement
The Lusaka Agreement of 1999 in its chapter 9, article 1 concerning the disarmament of armed groups stipulates that: The JMC (Joint Military Commission) with the assistance of the UN/OAU shall work out mechanisms for the tracking, disarming, cantoning and documenting of all armed groups in the DRC, including Ex FAR and Interahamwe, and put in place measures for handing over to the UN International Tribunal and national courts, mass killers and perpetrators of crimes against humanity; and handling of other war criminals.

Pretoria Agreement of August 2002
After the failure of Lusaka agreement, Rwanda and DRC met in Pretoria under the mediation of South Africa and signed the Pretoria agreement in which the DRC committed itself in article 8 to collaborate with MONUC and the JMC in the dismantling of the FAR and Interahamwe forces in the DRC. Rwanda was on her part to withdraw all her forces from the DRC, which it did by 5 October 2002.

Tripartite Plus
All tripartite Plus meetings agreed to end the threat of negative forces including FDLR especially the meeting of 16 September 2005 in Bujumbura which set the deadline of 30 September 2005 for FDLR to disarm or otherwise face measures intended to compel them to do so.

In April 2007, Chiefs of General Staff of DRC, Burundi, Rwanda and Uganda held a meeting in Bujumbura and adopted on 19th April four scenarios to uproot negative forces in the region: actions undertaken by the DRC defense forces, separate planned operations, combined phased operations and appeal to the international community.

But later on, DRC gave contradictory messages that they would not accept the use of force against FDLR.

In a statement released after the Tripartite Plus Joint Commission (TPJC) meeting in Lumumbashi, DRC from 6 to 8 June 2007, the Tripartite Plus member countries reaffirmed their commitment to political and military efforts aimed at eliminating the threat posed by negative forces.

These efforts would include, among others, the denial of negative forces’ safe haven, fundraising, movement (including visas) and access to media, including the leaders of militias operating in eastern DRC, especially FDLR.

Concerning the FDLR, William Swing said that, given that the voluntary repatriation failed, military action was going to be applied.

Meeting under the auspices of the TPJC in Kigali from 27 to 28 August 2007, the army commanders from Burundi, DRC, Rwanda and Uganda drew a new time table for the resumption of military action against negative forces operating in the DRC.

The defence heads agreed that the offensives against the FDLR would begin before the end of September 2007. During the meeting, army chiefs established a joint planning cell that would help to develop operational plans.

Tripartite Plus Joint Commission (TPJC) meeting held in Kampala from 15 to 17 September 2007 expressed frustration at DRC’s failure to eliminate rebels operating on its territory including the FDLR.

It endorsed the conclusions of the previous TPJC meeting in Kigali, and the 20 September meeting of Operations and Intelligence chiefs in Kisangani to establish a Joint Planning Cell.

The four respective foreign ministers also jointly communicated to the UN Secretary General their observations and recommendations with respect to MONUC’s role in addressing the threat of negative
forces.

Bilateral engagements
The Abuja meeting: On June 25, 2004, President Kabila and President Kagame met in Abuja and agreed to respect the 2002 Pretoria Agreement.

The two Presidents also agreed to set-up a joint verification mechanism to ensure that Rwandan rebels are disarmed and demobilized. Both recommendations have, unfortunately until now, not been honoured.
President Kagame proposed:

• To jointly (DRC and Rwanda) appeal to the UN to change the mandate of MONUC to include a forceful disarmament of Ex-FAR/Interahamwe.
• To carry out joint operations against Ex-FAR/ Interahamwe.
• To Authorize Rwanda to carry out operations against Ex-FAR/ Interahamwe in Eastern DRC on the same model that exists between Sudan and Uganda.
• To put RDF forces under DRC command in operations against Ex-FAR/ Interahamwe.

International Conference on Peace, Security, Democracy and Development in the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR): The Dar Es Salaam ICGLR accepted to prevent any direct or indirect support, delivery of arms or any other form of assistance to armed groups operating in the region, as well as deny use of any territory by armed groups to carry out acts of aggression or subversion against other Member States;

The conference also committed itself to implement, in an effective and sustainable way, the regional Disarmament, Demobilization, Repatriation, Reintegration and Resettlement (DDRRR) programmes, including those that benefit former child soldiers and female ex-combatants.

Specifically, one of the five priority projects under the Peace and Security Cluster of the ICGLR is on the disarmament and repatriation of the FDLR.

The conference also committed itself to implement, in an effective and sustainable way, the regional Disarmament, Demobilization, Repatriation, Reintegration and Resettlement (DDRRR) programmes, including those that benefit former child soldiers and female ex-combatants.

Specifically, one of the five priority projects under the Peace and Security Cluster of the ICGLR is on the disarmament and repatriation of the FDLR.

African Union
On 10 January 2005, the African Union Peace and Security Council (PSC) meeting in Libreville, Gabon, resolved to disarm Interahamwe Militias and Ex-FAR in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) which are still a major threat to Rwanda’s security.

UN Security Council
In its resolution No 1596 of 1 November 2005 (paragraphs 13 and 15), the Security Council approved the list of individuals and entities including FDLR members; Dr. Ignace Murwanashyaka and Major general Sylvestre Mudacumura, subject to stringent measures.

On 20 June 2007, the DRC was called upon by the visiting UN Security Council Ambassadors to work with Rwanda to find a political solution to violence in its eastern border region.

UN Security Council (Press Release SC/9084) of 23 July 2007 asked the DRC government and MONUC to develop a global plan to ensure security in the eastern part of the country.

• It asked MONUC to support the FARDC integrated brigades with a view to disarming recalcitrant foreign and Congolese armed groups.
• It asked the Congolese authorities to facilitate an inclusive dialogue in the Kivus, and recognized the FDLR and activities of the mixed brigades as the major causes of humanitarian crisis in the Kivus.
• It reiterated its demand that foreign armed groups lay down their arms and engage voluntarily and without preconditions in their demobilization, repatriation, resettlement and reintegration, as appropriate.
• It encouraged DRC and Rwanda to continue to cooperate to solve their common security concerns, to improve their diplomatic relations and to support the voluntary return of refugees, in consultation with the High Commissioner for Refugees.

UN Security Council Resolution 1804
On 13 March 2008, two days before the deadline which was set by DRC Government for the FDLR to disarm or face military action, the UN Security Council voted Resolution 1804 calling on the FDLR combatants to disarm without further delay and without prior conditions.

It also called on the FDLR to immediately stop recruiting and using children, to free all the children associated with them and stop gender-based violence.

Nairobi joint communiqué
Following a plan proposed by the DRC government to end the FDLR threat in early October 2007 and Rwanda’s response to this plan, the two countries met in Nairobi on 8-9 November 2007 to discuss a concrete plan to end the FDLR threat.

The talks were facilitated by the UN in the presence of both EU and US. At the end of the meeting, the parties issued a Joint Communiqué on a common approach to end the threat posed to peace and stability in both countries and the Great Lakes Region, in which both countries recognized the Ex-FAR/Interahamwe as a genocidal military organization that constitute a major threat to the peace and security of Rwanda, the DRC and the countries in the Great Lakes Region in general as well as to the Congolese population.

Accordingly, DRC agreed to work with U.N. peacekeepers to devise a plan to forcibly disarm Rwandan Hutu rebels in the DRC. It expected that DRC present its operational plan to Rwanda by 1 December 2007.

Rwanda also agreed to seal its border with the DRC (as demanded by the DRC) and take steps to see that rebels do not receive cross-border support.

The DRC went further to commit itself to hand over those suspected of involvement in the 1994 genocide to the Rwandan authorities and the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) for trial.

This has been received well by Rwanda and the US, EU and the UN, which called on all parties to implement the provisions of the communiqué immediately.

There have previously been a series of agreements between the two countries on FDLR disarmament and repatriation, but little was registered under those arrangements. By the experience, DRC has been proposing deadlines to disarm the FDLR, but has never honoured any of its promises and the problem has always been total lack of implementation.

Given the above background, it is still uncertain if the DRC is committed to disarm the FDLR, particularly with the recent collaboration between the FARDC and FDLR.
It is also still uncertain if the FARDC have the military capacity needed to defeat the FDLR.

However, the recent deal between Rwanda and DRC has positive aspects if implemented because the FARDC would at the least be capable of stopping collaboration with the FDLR, which would gradually weaken the group.

Conclusion
The Ex FAR/Interahamwe, and now, FDLR, have been central to regional insecurity in the Great Lakes Region since 1994. They have been a major actor in the Congo wars and the current conflict in the Eastern RDC.

The FDLR forces facilitated easy proliferation of small arms and have committed war crimes, crimes against humanity and other human rights violations in the Great Lakes region and many of them have committed genocide in Rwanda.

The FDLR continue to pose serious concern to security and stability in the entire region and many international peace initiatives to deal with them have been largely ineffective.

Indeed, a lasting peace will be available, in RDC and especially in the Eastern DRC, only if a lasting solution to the FDLR is found.

For this to happen, there is a need for a paradigm shift in implementing peace agreements in this region.

Numerous regional and international instruments provide commendable mechanisms to deal with FDLR issue, but no attempt has been made to translate them into action.

Translating them into action would be the new paradigm for those actors with the responsibility of finding a solution to this problem.

The international community should prevail on the DRC to, this time around, implement her part of the bargain as contained in the 8-9 November 2007 Nairobi Joint Communiqué.

And the normalization of diplomatic relations between Rwanda and RDC should be seen as an opportunity to consolidate trust and stability and, indeed, as a new strategy to definitely end the FDLR threat.

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