President Joseph Kabila’s Special Envoy to the Great Lakes region, Monday said his country was fed up with the presence of ex-FAR/Interahamwe militia on Congolese soil.
Seraphin Ngwej, said this at the end of the sixth meeting of the Joint Monitoring Group held in Kigali. The group was set up to follow up on the implementation of last year’s Nairobi joint communiqué signed between the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Rwanda.
“Let us be positive, let us be optimistic. The ex-far Interahamwe are not Congolese and they must go back home. The time has come when they must be repatriated whether they like it or not,” he said, underlining that Congolese have been patient enough.
Now grouped under what is known as the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), the ex-FAR and Interahamwe militia, are remnants of those who spearheaded the 1994 Genocide against over one million Tutsis.
They later fled into neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo from where they continue to commit grave crimes – raping, looting, and killing innocent civilians.
Queried on his country’s earlier reluctance on the matter, he replied that given the recent steps forward, “the time for suspicions is over” and stressed his country’s strong commitment and political will.
“We are going to act!” he said. A joint operational military plan against the militia was approved by both countries’ Foreign Affairs Ministers in the DR Congo provincial border town of Goma last week.
While speaking to reporters during a brief break in the one-day meeting, EU’s Special Envoy to the DR Congo, Roland Van De Geer, underscored “a broad international approach that will minimise the use of force” but make FDLR come home.
“There is ample room for a non-military approach,” said Van De Geer. Pressed on these statements, Ngwej stressed that all necessary means would be used.
“All the means will be engaged, all the means to fulfil this commitment and stabilise the region – all means, totally and inclusively,” he stressed.
“The suffering of our people has been too much,” he said, adding that during the Kigali meeting, the international community was also tasked to put pressure on external leaders of the FDLR.
Even though they operate from Congolese territory FDLR leaders are said to have well established bases in Europe, especially Germany, where its leader, Ignace Murwanashyaka, is currently staying.
Ngwej said both countries are confident the recently endorsed joint operational plan will work.
“At this occasion we, Rwanda and Congo, did renew our appeal to the international community to avail all necessary means to the realisation of this plan.”
President Paul Kagame’s special envoy to the Great Lakes Region, Ambassador Joseph Mutaboba, also seemed optimistic but stressed that it remained DRC full responsibility.
“They have to choose their partners in the implementation of this; Rwanda is going to be present in terms of the monitoring group where intelligence officers will monitor whether really it is the FDLR, and not others, being repatriated.”
“The international community is willing to help us maintain the momentum,” he said.
“We are talking to the AU, EU and others, we urged and appealed to everyone to make sure they all mean business, we need to see action, and we need to make sure that we all have the same target.”
Mutaboba underlined that both countries are ready and prepared to deal with the FDLR.
“The Congolese are ready and are fed up. What we now need is the help and commitment of the international community,” he said, shortly before pointing out that he had also requested MONUC to use its radio station- Radio Okapi – in helping mobilising and sensitising Rwandans in the DRC to return home.
Later in the afternoon, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Rosemary Museminali, accompanied by information minister Louise Mushikiwabo and Ambassador Mutaboba, again briefed the diplomatic corps on current developments, especially the recent Goma meeting.