DR Congo’s North Kivu provincial Governor Julien Paluku last week finally came clean, admitting that the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) were wrecking havoc in his country, especially raping women and breaking up families.
The FDLR, a mixture of the ex-FAR and Interahamwe militia who spearheaded the 1994 Genocide against Tutsis, are holed up in neighboring DR Congo from where they continue to commit atrocities.
In an exclusive interview with The New Times Friday at Cap Kivu Hotel in Goma where a joint operational military plan against the militia was adopted, Paluku blamed FDLR for raping, looting and killing blameless civilians in his province.
“Since 1994, they have been doing very bad things against the population. They have raped in Masisi, in Rutshuru and in Walikali,” he said, adding that the rape has been a cause of many broken families.
“They rape women and these women are thrown out by their husbands,” said the governor.
In what appears to be a changing tide against the FDLR, the Congolese leader expounded on the problems FDLR was causing in his war-ravaged province.
“The other terrible thing is that during harvest periods, they come and plunder all the food. The locals remain hungry and helpless without food.”
“Thirdly, they come, drive out local authorities and illegally bring in their own administrative structures. Our people here really suffer and that is why we support this plan to weed them out,” Paluku stressed.
During the meeting in Goma, Rwanda and DR Congo agreed on an operational plan against ex-FAR/Interahamwe that was jointly set up by officers from both countries’ armed forces and called for its speedy implementation.
Paluku also did not doubt claims that FDLR are illegally exploiting his country’s natural resources.
“It is true they control certain areas with minerals, places like Walikali. What do you expect to happen when they control areas with minerals?” he posed, pointing out that he didn’t rule out the possibility of their collaboration with “undisciplined” government officials.
The Goma meeting also agreed that the governors of DR Congo’s North Kivu and Rwanda’s Western province meet often to discuss issues of common interest.