“To me, this is the beginning of the end. People are tired of war and general insecurity. So a new way to peace must be given chance,” said Joseph Mutaboba, former Rwanda’s Special Envoy in the Great Lakes region.
The present genocide forces in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) under the name of Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) fled Rwanda, after killing over a million people.
On reaching the DRC, they did not only enjoy a safe haven, but also accessed abundant natural resources like diamonds and gold.
They were therefore; in essence rewarded with a ‘Diamond Cup’ for the genocide they committed against the Tutsi. FDLR is thus a ‘Genocide Prize Winner’.
Today however, things seem to be going wrong for FDLR after the DRC- Rwanda joint operation code-named Umoja wetu was launched. Umoja wetu can be literally translated as, “our unity.” Like any star, FDLR is ready to defend its title and resist the on going joint operation.
FDLR’s top leadership is the main beneficiary of the diamonds, and not men and women in the jungles who wheedle the resistance. A man like Ignus Murwanashayka, the FDLR leader will never want the so-called rebellion to end and ultimately lose the cup.
Though we have had of FDLR elements fleeing to the neighbouring Uganda, we are yet to witness a series of chameleon tricks. That is why we can hear that some FDLR/Interahamwe, are trying to hide within the DRC population.
So, is it possible for FDLR to hide within the local population? The answer is both yes and no. Yes when the locals allow, and no when they refuse.
It is easy for a person who has stayed in DRC for more than 14 years like FDLR, to hide in the local population due to a number of reasons:
One, most FDLR/Interahamwe have mastered the local language. A mixture of Lingala, Kiswahili and French, is what forms the most spoken language in the DRC. Therefore, for the purposes of communication, at least, FDLR is comfortable.
FDLR like many Rwandans have a background in Kiswahili and French languages, so they had only to study Lingala to be at par.
In addition, Lingala is one of the simplest languages to master- it has less than 700 vocabulary words. Currently language is not their problem, therefore they can easily disguise and hide within the local population.
The size and nature of the DRC land, is sparsely populated.
FDLR can thus move from one village to another and hide with relative ease. Furthermore, poor or non-existent infrastructure does not allow free mobility of Umoja wetu forces to the advantage of FDLR. Forests, rivers, mountains and lakes act as FDLR’s natural defence.
Lastly, FDLR has for quite long intimidated the local population with torture and death to the extent that they are not ready to risk pinpointing at them.
The population has been conditioned to obey Interahamwe’s orders, in that sense. The fear within the minds of the local population may offer great challenges to the operation.
What then should the Umoja wetu operation do? The fact that the two countries opted for a joint operation, is strategy number one, won.
However, much as they have to go on with more strategies, they should now focus more precisely on working tactics. For instance sensitising the local population too, that the joint operation means good for them, is of paramount importance.
This will make them more cooperative and helpful as far as the digging out FDLR is concerned. In addition, the locals should be protected against all militias, more particularly the FDLR—you know building trust within the population is what is needed.
If all this ia done,the FDLR will not defend its Diamond Cup in an environment where it has committed gross atrocities against humanity.