After an unsuccessful military operation devoted to disarm the insurgents of the rebel Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) operating in North-Kivu Province bordering Rwanda in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, there are fears of an upsurge in insecurity in the region.
This failure came despite the UN Intervention Brigade Force supporting the Congolese military to defeat the March 23 rebels (M23) in this province, where many villages previously held by the M23 rebellion fell under control of other militias that Rwanda’s authorities accused of collaborating with Hutu rebels, some of whom took part in the genocide against the Tutsis in 1994.
Some Kigali analysts blame the failure on the fact that most of the FDLR Hutu rebels who fled to Rwanda after the genocide are showing no willingness to leave Congo despite the on-going voluntary repatriation programme.
For years, the M23 has been fighting for the implementation of the peace agreement which it signed with the government on 29 March 2009, and through which the government committed itself to eradicating all negatively forces operating in Eastern DRC as a precondition to thousands of Rwanda refugees in Congo returning from exile.
M23, then known as the National Congress for the People’s Defence (CNDP), also claimed that its servicemen should be given their present ranks after their integration into the Congolese military (FARDC).
Despite the fact that the M23 rebellion has announced since November 2013 that it has “voluntarily” put an end to the insurrection, mainly in areas under its control, the Congolese Armed Forces, supported by the UN Special Strike Force, is now attempting to have the Rwandan Hutu rebels repatriated by force.
“Considering the Rwandan insurgents’ refusal to go back home, you can understand that some of their radical leaders fear they should face justice once repatriated, particularly for their role in the 1994 genocide, as some are still profiting from support from hidden forces on an international scale,” a political expert from the University of Rwanda told PANA on the condition of anonymity.
Some months ago, after a vast FARDC-operation was launched to chase away the Rwandan rebels, some of the insurgents retreated, while others invaded villages near the Rwandan border.
Rwandan authorities believe that the international community has failed in its fight against armed groups in Eastern DR Congo.
“In such a situation, the operations by the UN-backed Congolese military to fight rebels are doomed to failure,” said Rwanda’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation Louise Mushikiwabo.
But for the UN, the move to end the conflict in the Great Lakes sub-region must start with reinforcing the process for Disarmament, Demobilisation, Repatriation, Reintegration and Reinstallation (DDRRR), and “relocating” FDLR volunteers in Congo, Rwanda or other countries, far from the borders with their countries of origin.
While ruling out any kind of negotiations with the FDLR, a Hutu rebel movement, Rwanda’s government advocate easing the voluntary repatriation for all FDLR rebel fighters who are not steeped in genocide ideologies.
The FDLR has been operating in Eastern DRC for more than 19 years and is considered one major source of insecurity in the Great Lakes area.
A lot of its members allegedly participated in the 1994 genocide in Rwanda.
By Aimable Twahirwa, PANA Correspondent, Kigali