Time to deal with the FDLR

Mid this week, the international lobby organization Global Witness, came up with a report saying the Forces for the Democratic Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), was working hand in hand with the members of the Congolese Armed Forces, in mining Gold and Tin in the vast DR Congo. This comes after another international organization Human Rights Watch, came up with a report, saying that elements in the Congolese army, were actively engaged in selling arms to the rag tag FDLR in Eastern Congo.
A rebel soldier in Bukavu.
A rebel soldier in Bukavu.

Mid this week, the international lobby organization Global Witness, came up with a report saying the Forces for the Democratic Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), was working hand in hand with the members of the Congolese Armed Forces, in mining Gold and Tin in the vast DR Congo.

This comes after another international organization Human Rights Watch, came up with a report, saying that elements in the Congolese army, were actively engaged in selling arms to the rag tag FDLR in Eastern Congo.

At the time of the Human Rights Watch report, I interviewed the Presidential envoy to the Great Lakes region Dr. Richard Sezibera, and he said that, that was known by the Rwandan government and had made their concerns known to the Congolese authorities.

So, it could also be possible that the Congolese Military - Politico leadership, is well aware of what transpires between their soldiers, and genocidal FDLR/Interahamwe. Is it also possible that they could be actively sponsoring such cooperation? This is most likely.

So where does such leave all the efforts that have been made at the diplomatic and military levels involving the UN, to flush these negative forces out of Eastern Congo.

By selling arms, and doing business with a force that has been blacklisted internationally as a terrorist group, the Congolese authorities should be blacklisted themselves. It will be recalled that this report comes seven years after September 11, terror attack in New York and Washington.

After that attack, the Al-Qaeda network was hunted down in Afghanistan and its primary backers the Taliban were driven from power and suffered the same fate as their terrorist friends.

Like Osama bin Laden, the Taliban supreme leader Mullah Muhammed Omar was and is still hunted like a terrorist. The message that was sent to the rest of the world was that, not only the terror groups would face the wrath of the “civilized world” as in the effect made quite clear, that even those who gave succor to the terrorists, would face the same fate.

That is the same message that should be sent out to the FDLR and those who give it support. Many meetings have been held under what is called the tripartite plus and at other levels.

Negative forces were blacklisted, but then, it is perplexing that nothing has been really done to quash those forces notably FDLR.

That is why any casual observer of the security/politics of the Great Lake region will easily draw a conclusion, that such actions which are sometimes attributed to what is termed as “elements” in the Congolese army, are in fact official policy of the said army.

The alternative would only be possible if there was a complete break down in the chain of command. This is highly unlikely, given the fact that latest reports, indicate that the FDLR is known and has been reported to give back up support to the Congolese army in military operations against the CNDP of Laurent Nkunda.

Such reports would be more meaningful if, they came up with a list of individuals in positions of authority, and even go ahead to propose not only sanctions but issue warrants of arrest and even effect them.

Thus, such lobby groups ought to use their influence to set the policy agenda of the United Nations and countries where some of the blacklisted are known to travel. All this would be done with the view of taking drastic action.

Otherwise, such reports are not worth the paper they are written on. Moreover, the longer it takes to solve such a problem, which has been common knowledge for so long, the more complex it becomes.

It may end up sucking in more players and further complicating something that would have been solved long ago. Lessons ought to be taken from the problems that have been created by the rebels in Colombia who are engaged in international drug trafficking.

The trade helps them to fuel their war machine just like it does for the FDLR in this region. This group has also been accused of dealing in drugs. Even with some members of the MONUC.

It is always easy to dismiss these as issues of the third world and in most cases trivialized into tribal conflicts by some in the western countries, but the negative results are global.

The problem of drug use is more pronounced in the west than in developing and conflict prone countries. The trade in drugs has serious adverse effects on western populations. This calls for joint and drastic efforts by all that are affected in different ways.

Contact: frank2kagabo@yahoo.com

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