As I write this the joint military offensive against the FDLR will be entering the second week. And I hope by the time you finish reading, more rebels will have been neutralised as was the case last week and this week, more arms will also have been recovered.
As expected, the operation attracted more commentary, and it was just good to the media fraternity. I will slightly dwell on Victoire Ingabire’s comment. She heads a certain grouping, the United Democratic Forces (UDF).
Speaking from the Netherlands; she told the AFP news agency that the operation was a mistake. She even claimed that the Kigali regime is the only one in the region that ‘refuses to talk to the opposition’.
What a blatant lie! One wonders whether Ingabire, needs scientific explanation to understand that the ruling government is made up of members of different political parties.
To many who have been keenly following the efforts geared at restoring DRC-Rwanda relations, the joint operation was a foregone conclusion basing on the fact that government officials of both sides had met in both Kigali and Kinshasa, to draw up the plan.
One thing that stands out however, in the operation, was the arrest of Gen Laurent Nkunda, who was until recently the leader of the National Congress for the Defence of the People (CNDP).
Coming months after a report of the so called UN-Panel of experts accused Rwanda of supporting Nkunda, his arrest proves the claims in the report wrong.
Nkunda’s past war victories over government forces had been advanced as evidence of his getting support from Kigali.
Thanks to the operation “Umoja Wetu”. The truth, it is said, will always eventually come out, however long it takes.
Nkunda’s arrest from Rwanda is a vindication.
The rebel leader was not being supported after all. At least not in the sense the proponents of the report wanted us to believe.
For those who had bought the claims that Nkunda was getting support, their myth must have vanished after reports emerged that he was arrested trying to resist the operation.
If there was close cooperation, how then could Nkunda block troops which were advancing to flush out rebels who have been terrorising his people- whom he says he was fighting to protect? Couldn’t that be akin to self betrayal? How could one resist his allies?
Even Nkunda himself had earlier refuted the support claims, most recently in an interview with the Uganda’s Sunday Vision of January 25, days before his arrest, he reiterated his stand.
Pointing out clearly that the CNDP was not funded by Rwanda and there has not been any involvement of Rwanda alongside their forces. He insisted that the report was not from credible sources.
Back to the rebels, the December attack on Uganda’s Kony rebels in the Garamba forest of the vast DRC, by a consortium of Uganda Peoples Defence Forces (UPDF) Southern Sudan forces (SPLA) and Congolese forces should have sounded the warning to the FDLR rebels to surrender.
Appearing on BBC’s Kinyarwanda programme on Saturday, Imva n’Imvano, FDLR’s German-based leader Ignace Murwanashyaka said they were ready for the offensive against the joint operation - and has since come out to deny they have been hit hard.
Instead of wasting time, he should just surrender rather than risk the lives, especially of young children in his ranks who were conscripted by force and misled. You have wasted a lot of valuable time and gained nothing.
It seems his days are numbered because the blood of innocent people his organisation killed in the genocide is still haunting them.
They have disrupted economic activities in DRC and continued to spread genocide ideology from their hideouts-some of them moving on foreign passports to source arms but the honeymoon could be over.
Talking to the rebels, as Ingabire demands, is debatable because to some, sitting in one room with criminals of that magnitude could be diffficult.
The Rwanda government offered what others could call a soft landing with the Rwanda Demobilisation and Reintegration Commission (RDRC) receiving all those who chose peace and reconciliation over hatred and war.
Many who gave up fighting are welcomed, pardoned and given a reasonable package to enable them reintegrate in communities among other things. On top of that, tens of thousands of genocide criminals were pardoned and are moving freely.
The only remaining government onus is to address the causes that plunged the country into genocide, and this is quite successfully being done through the National Unity and Reconciliation Commission (NURC).
Defecting rebels have at times given sickening revelations that the UN Mission in Congo MONUC often frustrates their efforts to defect on top of arming them.
Such revelations have cast doubt in MONUC’s readiness to disarm the rebels as per the several protocols signed to the effect.
Against such, it is only hoped that this joint operation will pacify eastern Congo, described as the epicentre of a dysfunctional government by some commentators.
The joint DRC-Rwanda operation also largely rests what had become like traditional mutual mistrust, accusations and counter accusations between Kigali and Kinshasa.
This tough government decision should be commended; it was in fact long overdue because Rwanda had all along exercised self restraint.