I refer to The New Times article entitled “Is momentum gathering against the FDLR militia?” of August 11. On August 7, the UK’s then Minister for Africa, Mark Simmonds, chaired a debate on the Great Lakes at the UN Security Council. He made clear that the FDLR continued to pose a threat to the region and to the future of Rwanda. The UK took the lead because we believe that, twenty years after 1994, putting an end to the FDLR and all armed groups is long overdue: we want to see full disarmament as soon as possible and an end to impunity. There is little evidence that the FDLR feel under great pressure to disarm at present, but as Mark Simmonds said, the UN has mandated MONUSCO to use unilateral force to neutralise all armed groups. We should be prepared to use it if the disarmament process fails to be swift or credible in the same way that we have used it to secure progress against other armed groups.
During the UN debate, the Secretary-General’s representative (to the Congo), Martin Kobler said that putting an end to the FLDR was MONUSCO’s “first priority”. Countries from the region, including South Africa, were clear that the FDLR should disarm and demobilise within clear deadlines. The UK, US and France were united in their view that the military option had to remain ready to use. The UK hopes that all the countries of the region will work to ensure that this timetable slips no further including at today’s (Thursday) meeting in Luanda. We are also urging the government in Kinshasa to make FARDC forces available for action with MONUSCO. We support MONUSCO with some £60m per year and the deployment of senior British officers, not to mention extensive assistance via the EU and World Bank.
The UK believes that continued, positive Rwandan and regional engagement in regional discussions including the Peace, Security and Co-operation Framework, is crucial to building the consensus to ending the FDLR as quickly as possible and bringing lasting peace to the region.
The UK is absolutely committed to Rwanda’s future, as the regular discussions between the two governments, our extensive development support programme, and the growing number of British tourists and investors show. We look forward to the day when the region is a more stable place for Rwanda, and its neighbours.
William Gelling, British High Commissioner to Rwanda.Follow https://twitter.com/WilliamGelling