Amb. Eugene Gasana on Genocidal FDLR: Military Pressure Helps Genuine Disarmament

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Yesterday August 7 2014, UN Security Council Rwanda’s Minister of State in Charge of Cooperation, Eugene-Richard Gasana, addressed the UN Security Council issues on the organisation’s mission to the DRC known as MONUSCO.

Among other things, Ambassador Gasana, had this to say in his remarks:

“Rwanda was pleased to see that MONUSCO has achieved some progress on important fronts, as outlined in the Secretary General’s report, including working towards ending gross human rights violations and consolidating state authority in Eastern DRC. The setting of a timeframe for the organization of local elections; the government’s increasing presence in areas cleared of armed groups, including in the islands of stability supported by MONUSCO; military operations against the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF-Nalu) – these are all positive and encouraging developments.”

“There is still much to be done, as we have heard with the reports of haltingly slow security sector reform; the horrific crimes against civilians that continue to be carried out by armed groups in Eastern DRC; and the pervasive impunity that accompanies these crimes. It is true that MONUSCO is on the ground protecting civilians, but we shall not forget that the primary responsibility in protecting the Congolese people lies with the Government, which should redouble its efforts in implementing and enforcing accountability and justice mechanisms.”

“There is another area of extreme importance, which unfortunately has not seen progress: the neutralization of the 1994 Genocidal Movement, the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR). This is one of the oldest armed groups in eastern DRC, which settled in that area after committing the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda. Despite its claims of readiness to disarm, the FDLR continues to recruit and train combatants, including children. The genocidal organization, FDLR, voluntary disarmament is the latest among many distractions that have stood in the way of a solution to the FDLR problem for two decades. Genuine disarmament and surrenders have been happening under political and military pressure for many years.”

As stated by Special Representative, Martin Kobler, more than 11,000 former FDLR have been successfully repatriated since 2002, through the Mutobo Demobilization Center, which this Council visited in October last year. Most of the surrendered, including top commanders have peacefully reintegrated society.

I thank SRSG Kobler for sharing the statistics of FDLR repatriation since 2002, most of whom repatriated by the pressure of the joint FARDC-RDF military operations of 2009 codenamed UMOJA-WETU. It would have been good in order to have a full picture of the situation, if this graph was accompanied by statistics of FDLR recruitment and atrocities committed since 2002. Then we would better understand the urgency of the matter. But even with these statistics, it is clear that military pressure seems to be the only viable option that can force the genocidaires to repatriate.

There is a tendency to create a false dichotomy between military operations against the FDLR and “voluntary surrender”. Yet this is not an “either or” situation. On the contrary, the two actually contribute to each other. The main reason more than 10,000 ex-FDLR disarmed and returned voluntarily to Rwanda over the last 10 years is that political and military pressure – or the credible threat thereof- consistently triggered mass surrenders of demotivated genocidal FDLR combatants. On the other hand, the example set by successful repatriation and reintegration within Rwandan society presented a strong incentive for further surrenders.

Therefore, by entertaining the genocidal forces FDLR’s diversionary maneuvers that are neither new nor credible, regional international actors are further complicating and prolonging a conflict for which the region has already paid a tragic cost. Even more disturbing is the fact that such attitude might be setting the stage for further conflicts in the region, as some actors driven by hidden agendas, may take advantage of the FDLR presence to pursue their own negative goals.

Rwanda knows first-hand what it takes to build a nation from the ashes. We know that focus should be given to national reforms, the reintegration of former rebels, neutralizing remaining groups and the establishment of state authority. That is why we are committed to carrying out all tasks required of us per the Peace, Security and Cooperation Framework Agreement, in order to ensure that the region is moving towards peace and stability throughout its borders.

From 18th to 20th July 2014, a delegation from the DRC Government assisted by officials from Monusco, the ICGLR and the Office of the Special Envoy carried out the registration and initiation of the amnesty process for ex-M23 elements interned in Rwanda. 453 ex-combatants, including all their former leaders, were registered and filled their application forms. The process generated some positive expectations on the part of the ex-combatants. Some of the junior members who were not present during the exercise have expressed interest in joining the process. Signatories to the Framework Agreement and other should ensure that reasonable incentives are put in place and maintained for the ex-combatants to remain committed to the implementation process.

As an active member of the ICGLR, a committed signatory to the Framework Agreement, and a Government that has been carrying a heavy burden by receiving, disarming, moving away from the border and managing ex-M23 combatants without any international support; we are determined to support the implementation of the Kampala Dialogue Declarations and have requested that its application be extended to include ex-FARDC General Laurent Nkunda.

We firmly believe that the International Community should engage with signatories in genuine collaborative terms. They should build on regional initiatives to achieve sustainable peace by addressing the root causes of crises in the Great Lakes Region. Chief among these causes, the two-decade active presence of the FDLR in the eastern DRC.”

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