Senior Rwandan and DRCongo Defence officials are today expected to carry on with talks aimed at routing negative forces out of the vast central African country.
The next joint meeting to be held in the border town of Gisenyi, goes to another level since defence ministers of both countries are now involved, as revealed yesterday by Ambassador Joseph Mutaboba, President Paul Kagame’s Special Envoy to the Great Lakes Region.
“It is the continuation of the renewed excellent relationship between our two countries, which has moved from the level of foreign affairs ministers and special envoys to the new department – ministers of defence,” ambassador Mutaboba said by telephone last evening.
The Minister of Defence, Gen. Marcel Gatsinzi and his Congolese counterpart, Charles Mwando Nsimba, and other senior defence officials will meet to continue from where the Foreign Affairs ministers ended in recent meetings.
Mutaboba explained that “technicians” from both sides have been meeting for a while now, ever since the “Four plus Four” bilateral framework was set up.
The last bilateral meeting held on December 5 in the Congolese border town of Goma, endorsed an operational military strategy to deal with ex-FAR/Interahamwe militia, 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, later freeing into neighbouring DR Congo from where they continue to commit grave crimes - raping, looting, and killing innocent civilians.
Seraphin Ngwej, President Joseph Kabila’s Special Envoy to the Great Lakes region recenty said that his country was fed up with the presence of ex-FAR/Interahamwe militia on Congolese soil.
This was at the end of the sixth meeting of the Joint Monitoring Group, a framework set up to follow up on the implementation of last year’s Nairobi joint communiqué 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 then.
Ngwej said both countries are confident that the joint operational plan against the negative forces would work.
In a subsequent event, the December 10 Tripartite Plus Joint Commission (TPJC) session at Prime Holdings, Kigali, Alexis Thambwe Mwamba, DR Congo’s Foreign Minister also labelled the FDLR as a cancer bequeathed to them by the international community.
The last TPJC—a regional security platform--meeting aimed at reviewing progress in the elimination of the security threat posed to the entire region by illegal armed groups in DR Congo’s volatile eastern region.
Foreign ministers from Rwanda, DR Congo, Uganda, and Burundi, in their final communiqué, called for urgent implementation of the Security Council’s resolution 1804 which authorizes travel and financial sanctions on FDLR leaders, urging a quick and full implementation of all its provisions.
They also endorsed the December 5 Rwanda-DR Congo communiqué that adopted a joint operational military strategy to deal with the FDLR and a commitment from DR Congo to re-establish diplomatic relations with the other three countries early next year.
“FDLR is a priority on the military plan because it is on our soil that the biggest number of rapes of women and young girls is done. It is on our soil that there are killings like the most recent ones that happened in Kiwanja,” Mwamba told reporters then.
The present positive momentum has been acknowledged and Louis Michel, the European Commissioner for Development and Humanitarian Aid recently also admitted there was a positive drive towards peace in the Great Lakes region.
“The momentum is shifting. I am pretty sure about that, I feel that there is a strong good will on both sides to improve relations and to work for complete improvement and for solutions,” Michel said shortly after meeting with President Paul Kagame.