DRC: After the defeat of M23, what is remaining to neutralize the FDLR?

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After the defeat of M23 rebellion, the FDLR and ADF rebels are supposed to be the next target of the intervention brigade of the United Nations, in its mission to neutralize armed groups in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo. However many people are asking what will happen to FDLR rebels and when that will be done. Jeune Afrique has attempted to analyze these issues and tell us the following:

The first question to ask is what threat do FDLR rebels represent in the Kivus? How many FDLR rebels are still there? Where do they hide? In which villages are they? To respond to these questions, everyone has his comment.

Figures and assumptions differ, depending on whether one is in Kigali, Kinshasa or New York at the UN Headquarters.

However, the FDLR are the next target of the intervention brigade of the United Nations whose mandate is to neutralize all armed groups that swarm for nearly two decades in the eastern part of the DRC.

In fact, after the misfortune of the Movement of M23, rebellion which controlled part of North Kivu for more than 18 months, the noose tightens around the FDLR.

“We will target them because it is our military priority at this time,” recently confirmed Martin Kobler , the Special Representative of the Secretary General of the UN in the DRC.

A position that is similar to that of the Congolese government, which says also ready to launch the attack, with the support of peacekeepers, a ” strong action ” against “negative forces ” still present on its soil, the first being Rwandan FDLR rebels and Ugandan ADF – NALU (Allied Democratic Forces – Army for the Liberation of Uganda) and, last, the national liberation Forces of Burundi (FNL) and all – mayi mayi fighters.

FDLR, the most dangerous?

On paper, and in reality, the FDLR rebels appear as the main threat to peace in the Kivus and in the Great Lakes region while in Kinshasa, it claims to have reduced the number of “over 80% “before the outbreak of the rebellion of the M23 in April 2012.

How many are they today? Around” 1,500 fighters,” according to estimates by UN experts who work on the issue of armed groups in eastern DRC. The number, however, according to come observers, could be somehow an underestimation.

“It is impossible to give an exact figure on the number of FDLR in the Kivus “explains Christoph Vogel, Independent Researcher.

“One thing is obvious. Nobody talking about 8000 or 10 000 FDLR rebels as in the past. “Vogel and many observers believe that “the power of the Rwandan rebels declined significantly “in recent years however they were not totally destroyed.

“In the long term, the DDRRR (disarmament, demobilization, repatriation, reintegration, and resettlement) of the UN Mission in Congo has reduced their number,” justifies the expert, noting also that “attacks conducted by Raïa Mutomboki [local militia anti- FDLR] have contributed to the weakening of the FDLR.”

Elected in Walikale, a territory of North Kivu often disturbed by the incursions of the FDLR, Juvenal Munubo confirms the involvement of local Mai-Mai militias in the hunt for Rwandan rebels.

“We must admit that these armed groups helped chase the FDLR. They accomplished what should have been the task of the government,” he told Jeune Afrique.

Therefore: “The FDLR are no longer the main threat [May be for Kinshasa],” argues Munubo.” But this is not a reason for Government and UN to fold their arms, they must continue until their last stronghold,” he adds.

Now UN has already sent drones to monitor the movements of armed groups in the Eastern Part of the Democratic Republic of Congo, including the mobility of FDLR rebels who are the first in the viewfinder of the brigade of the UN intervention groups.

“Two unarmed drones” were sent on December 3

“These devices will allow the peacekeepers to monitor the mobility of various armed groups to better position themselves and especially anticipating action to protect the civilian,” said a source in MONUSCO.

Since the end of the rebellion of the M23, fearing the possibility of a future attack of Congolese army supported by MONUSCO, several militiamen chose to disarm. But FDLR combatants, they have not moved or disarmed.

“They occupy some villages in Mwenga and Walungu in South Kivu and parts of Lubero in North Kivu,” recalls Christoph Vogel. “They are also located in Oninga the border between Lubero and Walikale, near the Maiko National Park in the Eastern Province,” says Juvenal Munubo.

FDLR rebels have not ceased to commit atrocities in the villages they occupy in Kivu. They are torturing men, enslaved or killed them and even raping women,” describes Kavota Omar, spokesman for the civil society in North Kivu.

“Weakened but not destroyed”

Lawsuits in Germany against two of their politicians and the arrest of their deputy commander, ” General ” Stanislas Nzeyimana , aka ” Izabayo Bigaruka ” in Tanzania are not likely to fix things for the rebels … “They are weakened, but so far not destroyed , “concludes Munubo Juvenal , the representative of Walikale .

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