A summit of Heads of State from six regional countries has given the green light to urgent military action against DR Congo-based Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) militia.
The decision was reached at yesterday in the Angolan capital Luanda by the leaders, who constitute the committee in charge of monitoring the situation in DR Congo under the framework of the 12-member International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR).
FDLR is largely composed of elements blamed for the Genocide against the Tutsi that claimed more than a million Rwandans two decades ago.
The mini-summit endorsed recommendations of an earlier meeting of Chiefs of Defence Staff, including “a general approach for fighting against negative forces.”
They also agreed to impose political and economic sanctions against all negative forces, according to a statement released after the mini-summit.
On FDLR, they recommended “coordinated efforts aimed at continued repatriation of those willing to disarm and return voluntarily and engaging urgently military actions against those unwilling to disarm.”
Presidents Paul Kagame and Denis Sassou Nguesso of the Republic of Congo gave explanation on the threat posed by the FDLR terrorists, while their DR Congo counterpart Joseph Kabila gave an update on the security situation in the east of his country and the process to demobilise and reintegrate former M23 fighters into society.
In recent days, Kinshasa has said its army, FARDC, was preparing for offensive against FDLR militants, also guilty of vicious attacks against Congolese civilians over the years.
The UN, US and other international actors have urged the UN mission in DR Congo to back FARDC in operations against FDLR, among other negative elements holed up there.
Monusco played a key part in the defeat of Congo’s M23 rebels last November, but the peacekeepers have since been accused of developing cold feet with regard to FDLR militia.
Angolan leader José Eduardo dos Santos, the current ICGLR chairperson, said countries should not serve as safe havens for negative forces.
“We cannot allow rebel groups, without any social support base, to continue undermining the rule of law and the integrity of national borders, to destabilise the economic and social life and to keep the populations hostage,” he said.
Also at the meeting were Presidents Yoweri Museveni (Uganda) and Jacob Zuma of South Africa, with the latter participating as a special guest since his country is not an ICGLR member.