A couple of weeks ago, the DR Congo-based Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) genocidal group announced that it had decided to voluntarily disarm and abandon its violent campaign.
The terrorist organisation went on to sanction the disarmament of a few dozens of its junior fighters. To keen observers, this was nothing more than a political gimmick designed to hoodwink a naive world.
Indeed the move only turned out to be a publicity stunt with some media organisations relaying the story to their war weary audiences, creating the impression that the militia was ready to give peace a chance.
However, the group has since gone quiet about the purported disarmament plans, vindicating most observers’ suspicions that the move was designed to distract global attention away from FDLR’s continued illegitimate existence and hostilities with impunity.
Over the last 20 years, the FDLR has committed unimaginable crimes against Congolese civilians and other regional citizens. It remains one of the most abusive armed groups in the region, with a chilling record of criminality that’s rooted in the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda in which more than a million people were killed.
It should be recalled that the purported disarmament was announced in the wake of increasing international pressure on the FDLR to disarm, and growing questions about the commitment of the Congolese army and the UN stabilisation mission in the Congo to crush the militia as directed by the Security Council.
The announcement also followed a directive by the Heads of State of the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region to their armies to join forces and dismantle the militia.
But there have also been attempts to sanitise FDLR, with some actors in the region and beyond, publicly or otherwise, seeking to render legitimacy to the genocidal outfit.
It is, therefore, safe to say that the recent FDLR’s announcement was just part of a broad scheme to thwart any military action against the group and sustain its existence.
Over the last two decades, more than 10,000 former FDLR combatants have returned home and successfully reintegrated into the armed forces or the civilian life. All it takes is to lie down your weapon, abandon the genocide ideology and return home peacefully.
Regional and international stakeholders must not accept to be fooled by the FDLR. They must see to it that the group is tracked down and dismantled to help root out a cancerous ideology that has claimed the lives of millions around this region.