I have woken up to a headline screaming “FDLR SPOKESMAN SURRENDERS”! Lt.Col. Michael Habimana, alias Edmond Ngarambe, has given himself up to Rwandan forces and, while at it, has also eaten a huge slice of humble pie.
The first time I heard of the fellow was in an article I read in the Guardian UK website written by Chris McGreal on Friday 16 May 2008.
The article, titled rather chillingly “‘WE HAVE TO KILL TUTSIS WHEREVER THEY ARE”, was an account of the author’s trip to the jungles of the Democratic Republic of the Congo to meet with the leadership of the FDLR. Well, it was quite a zinger of an article- he exposed the type of indoctrination that the child soldiers amongst the FDLR were receiving [Most of our new recruits came from Rwanda as children,” his source told him, they are fighting to take their country back-”it doesn’t matter how young they are if they don’t have their freedom...”]
He also found out that the FDLR troops were looting from the local population [“when there’s a war, that’s when there are difficulties. We are obliged to take food from the population when there’s fighting”] and discovered that rape was a ‘normal thing’ to the same troops [“this thing of rape - I can’t deny that happens. We are human beings...”].
Who gave him all this information- a certain Lt.Col Ngarambe - that’s who. The article, which was a well researched analysis of just how dangerous the FDLR were to the region, ended in a chilling manner as Ngarambe said his last-”the children born here are FDLR,”…the children born in Rwanda will be FDLR. My children will be FDLR”! Well, fast forward to 13th of February 2008 and the same chap has radically changed his tune.
““Let me especially request Ignace Murwanashyaka and Major General Silvestre Mudacumura and all the political and military leaders on the list of extremists to desist from stopping FDLR from returning home,”….
“if they really love their soldiers and the civilians in FDLR,” he challenged, “they should not allow blood to be shed or for these people to wander in the bushes while their own families live comfortably in Europe and elsewhere.”
I can wager my entire fortune that speaking these words wasn’t the manner in which he envisioned himself speaking to the Rwandan people for the first time. He probably thought that he’d have done that, while stepping on a mass grave in Kigali. Thankfully that has not happened.