ICGLR should not waste the opportunity to pacify region

Over the last one month, the United Nations and Western capitals have expressed strong support for peace efforts in the Great Lakes Region of Africa.

Over the last one month, the United Nations and Western capitals have expressed strong support for peace efforts in the Great Lakes Region of Africa.

The international community finally seems to be realising that the single most important factor behind the cycle of insecurity and human rights abuses that have dogged the Great Lakes region for the last two decades, shattering hopes and dreams of millions of civilians, is genocide ideology and those that represent it.

The flight into the Congo by thousands of militiamen responsible for the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda served as a launch pad for years of suffering, conflicts and tensions that have gripped the region, with varied levels of involvement by countries and other actors near and far.

The Congo became the battlefield with hundreds of thousands of ordinary Congolese and other ordinary folks bearing the brunt of ensuing high-level politicking and inaction that have characterised discussions about the active presence of a militia group whose cardinal objective is to complete the genocide it set in motion two decades ago.

To disguise its identity and hoodwink an unsuspecting and naive world, these genocidal forces have, over the years, adopted new names, sometimes baptising themselves with attractive names such as the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR).

Nonetheless, their mission and actions have remained chillingly intact, as they continued to recruit and indoctrinate underage fighters, who represent continuity in the eyes of their elderly genocidaires.

A few months ago, these terrorists, in a last-ditch effort to avoid military action by UN peacekeepers whose principal reason d’être was to dismantle FDLR, lied to the whole world that they had started voluntary disarmament, only to send a few dozens of frail and elderly fighters to assembly points.

Now the world seems to have realised it was being duped after all.

Indeed strong statements from international actors urging expedited military action to disarm the genocidal outfit are a welcome departure from usual indifference.

For the last few years, regional leaders under the auspices of the International Conference for the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR), have sought to pacify the Congo. Yet during last week’s mini-summit in Luanda, Angola, the ICGLR made decisions that fell short of making the most of increased international goodwill to finally eliminate this inherently brutal genocidal militia.

FDLR has had 20 years to lay down arms and return home peacefully – indeed more than 11,000 combatants have denounced the genocidal ideology and returned home and have since been re-integrated in society.

Those that remain in the Congo preying on ordinary folks do not need more time, but to be forcibly dismantled as soon as yesterday, as allowing them to buy time is playing in their hands and endangering the lives of all those in their vicinity.