Despite current SADC’s propaganda statements promoting a certain hidden agenda, the decision of Forces démocratiques de libération du Rwanda (FDLR) to lay down arms should be taken with a pinch of salt as the militia remains resolute in its plans of attacking Rwanda, the United Nations has revealed.
According to the latest UN report, early in 2014, FDLR maintained its strategy, notably by claiming that it had stored its weapons in anticipation of surrendering them and was seeking the assistance of the international community to achieve a political solution with the Government of Rwanda.
“In April and May, however, FDLR ex-combatants told the Group that FDLR leaders were continuing to recruit and train individuals and talk about attacking Rwanda.
The Group thus considers that FDLR is attempting to position itself as a legitimate political actor, while simultaneously maintaining military readiness,” UN said in their report which was recently submitted to the Security Council.
While it was thought that Rwanda military operations had decimated the force’s capabilities amid increased desertions during early 2014, UN further reported that FDLR recruitment has been intensified with the total number of combatants increasing to 1,500.
Between January and April 2014, the MONUSCO disarmament, demobilization, repatriation, reinsertion and reintegration programme received 165 FDLR combatants, including 89 foreign and 76 Congolese nationals.
However, six FDLR ex-combatants and MONUSCO sources told UN investigators that FDLR had continued to recruit during that same period. The ex-combatants added that that recruitment had included children. “The Group believes that the strength of FDLR is still some 1,500 combatants, consistent with the conclusions in the final report of the previously mandated Group,” said UN.
Early in 2014, two high-ranking FDLR officers returned to the armed group. It should be recalled that in September 2013, FARDC had arrested “Lt. Col.” Ferdinand Nsengiyumva, who was in charge of FDLR operations in South Kivu.
Early in March, he escaped from custody and rejoined FDLR. UN said “Col.” Hamada Habimana, the sector commander for South Kivu, had deserted in November 2013, however, he also returned to FDLR in March.
Recent public relations efforts made by FDLR include meeting and talking to foreign journalists and releasing press statements.
In February and March 2014, Victor Byiringiro met international journalists at FDLR headquarters in Buleusa, Walikale territory, and told them that FDLR was currently disarming and wanted the international community to pressure the Government of Rwanda to engage in negotiations.
But UN says “such declarations conflict with pictures taken at the time of the February meeting, showing heavily armed men, and a small quantity of weapons “stored” as evidence of FDLR having laid down their weapons.”
UN said its investigators talked to seven former FDLR combatants, including two previously based in Buleusa, who “stressed that their commanders continued to say that the objective of FDLR was to attack Rwanda.” Only 1 of the 11 FDLR deserters interviewed by the Group knew about the intention of FDLR to negotiate with the Government of Rwanda.
Rwanda speaks out
Rwandan officials believe the DRC-based genocidal force – FDLR – which of recently teamed up with a faction of PS-Imberakuri and Rwanda National Congress (RNC) remains a major threat to regional security.
Officials said Monday the group which is responsible for the 1994 genocide in Rwanda and a series of atrocities in DRC is said to be behind various terror attacks carried out in Rwanda since 2010 in which scores have perished.
Rwanda Defence Minister, Gen James Kabarebe also observed that the DRC conflict has “become an opportunity for doing business to some nations, organizations and individuals.”
He was possibly referring to western countries that thrive on the turmoil in Eastern Congo to loot natural resources and businesses that maintain flow of supplies to UN peacekeepers in the war-torn country.
Kabarebe made the remarks during the symposium on ‘Peace and Security’ at the National Police College (NPC) on July 14.
During the Symposium, officials called for regional law enforcement agencies to shift from the traditional internal-focused policing to cooperate if they are to effectively contain the ever evolving modern and serious crimes which are cross-border in nature.
The formal event held at the College in Musanze District was held under the theme “Addressing Contemporary Peace and Security Challenges”.
It was organized by the College as part of the training programme of the second intake of the ‘Police Senior Command and Staff Course (PSCSC), to discuss on challenges faced by law enforcement agencies in course to ensure peace and security.
The Minister for Internal Security, Sheikh Musa Fazil Harelimana, while opening the event, said a wide range of threats such as cybercrime, terrorism, fraud and money laundering have marked the contemporary era and are likely to harm peace and security of individuals and communities.
“There is insurgence and violence in many parts of our region. Some countries are affected by political uprisings in form of demonstration that may be referred to as the greatest threat to internal security,” Minister Harelimana said.
“Law enforcement agencies are always at the forefront to ensure that the community they serve is free, safe and reassured. Attaining this objective, however, is always a challenge although not impossible.
Whereas the internal threats in our country have been contained, the external ones remain…hostile groups and elements that operate from across and along the borders are still out there and make regular attempts to carryout terrorism acts against civilians,” he added.
“These crimes are heinous and the damage they cause is felt at the very heart of our communities. Responding to these threats requires the law enforcement concerted effort, determination, hard work and continuous vigilance,” he noted.
This is not the first time concerns are being raised about FDLR’s attempts to cross to Rwanda. Rwanda has warned it will not sit and look on idly as senior figures at the United Nations and countries in the region and Diaspora continue supporting the militia to threaten its national security.
“We have been reminded, over the last two days, of the hidden agenda of UN senior officials and countries in the region, in support to the FDLR,” said Rwanda’s Deputy Permanent Representative to united Nations recently, “adding, “Rwanda will not tolerate the collusion of those who should abide by United Nations Security Council resolutions, with a genocidaire and UN sanctioned movement.”
Government spokesperson and Foreign Affairs Minister, Louise Mushikiwabo, recently warned “supporters of FDLR genocidal militia, read my lips: it (genocide) ain’t gonna happen again!”
Mushikiwabo said Rwanda’s policy toward FDLR remains unchanged: “Drop weapons and genocide ideology and come home though established Rwanda-UN demobilization scheme.”
She further expressed outrage that, “the same individuals/countries allied to thugs that committed genocide in Rwanda back in 1994 are still at it today! Shameful!”
An investigation by Chimpreports indicates that since the border clashes between the Rwandan and Congolese soldiers on June 11/12, Rwanda maintains heavily-armed troops in the area as a precautionary measure.