Two weeks after the deadline passed for the DRC-based genocidal group, FDLR to surrender weapons and demobilise combatants as directed by SADC, ICGLR and United Nations, the joint international military brigade is yet to commence offensive operations against outfit whose leaders and ideology are blamed for the 1994 genocide in Rwanda.
Chimpreports understands the main reason as to why the UN brigade has not attacked the military outfit despite overwhelming international pressure is due to DRC President Joseph Kabila’s indecisiveness.
The UN Security Council early this month Kabila to authorize UN-backed action against that group but by January 18, the brigade had not received clearance from Kabila.
It also remains unclear why of all groups operating in Eastern Congo, UN is insisting on receiving authorisation from Kabila to execute its internally-recognised mandate.
Just a week ago, South African president Jacob Zuma met his Angolan counterpart Eduardo Dos Santos in Luanda.
What the two presidents discussed privately remains unknown so far.
However, Santos has since made it clear, especially through diplomatic meetings that FDLR should be fought and defeated if it refuses to surrender.
A meeting called in Luanda recently, perhaps to delay the planned attack on FDLR bases, was cancelled on directives of President Santos.
Impressed by Santos’ commitment to get rid of militant groups in Eastern Congo, Rwanda Foreign Affairs Minister, Louise Mushikiwabo, tweeted on January, 10: “Appreciating leadership of Angola on security in Great Lakes. President Dos Santos truly cares and understands the value of regional stability.”
She praised Angola for refusing to hold the ICGLR summit on January 15 “to discuss yet again way forward on FDLR! It’s time for military action, and all concerned must comply.”
It is understood some of main actors in the FDLR saga are Tanzania and South Africa, whose presidents are close to Kabila and helped him defeat the M23 rebellion in M23.
The duo reportedly wants political dialogue between President Kagame and FDLR. Yet, Kigali maintains it will never ever hold discussions with militants whose actions claimed one million people in the 1994 genocide.
Kigali says FDLR must surrender or face military action. The delay to attack FDLR, highly placed diplomatic sources say, rotates around the actions of Tanzania, South Africa and Kabila.
By failing to be decisive, Kabila seems hostage to the view of his close allies.
It is also suspected that by dragging his feet in attacking FDLR, Kabila intends to use the FDLR as a bargaining chip to secure a third term in office.
Already, the international community, civil society and opposition have since warned Kabila against manipulating the Constitution to stand for a third term in office.
“Kabila’s game plan: If the international community wants him to fight FDLR, they should also allow him to stay around as President,” a top source told this investigative website in a short message.
“He needs assurance that his plans of seeking another term will not be disrupted.”
The FDLR is backed by politically powerful and economically influential groups and individuals mainly in France, Belgium and South Africa.
Backers of FDLR see the group as the only way of using military means to overthrow President Kagame.
By attacking their only source of hope of toppling President Kagame, these forces also threaten Kabila’s hold on power as some influence decisions of United Nations and other powerful groups.
Kagame on January 15 expressed reservations about promises by the international community to use military means to attack and defeat the FDLR militia which remains a huge security threat to Rwanda.
“The way FDLR issue is being handled, it’s as if killing people was not such a bad thing after all,” he cautioned.
“Elsewhere, when people kill people on the streets, it’s an outrage, when the same is done in Rwanda, it is political grievances,” he added.
Kagame further said UN has cracked the whip on other militia groups but “when it comes to FDLR, there are all kinds of excuses: these are children, they are mixed with civilians…there are lessons learnt from past attitudes and there are also lessons to learn from promises for the future.”
UN empty promises
Meanwhile, the top United Nations official in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) on Friday expressed ‘full solidarity’ and support for the country’s Government as it continues in its fight against armed groups operating in the eastern part of its territory.
“The current fight against the Front de Résistance Patriotique de l’Ituri (FRPI) shows our determination to neutralize all the groups that have inflicted untold suffering on the Congolese population,” Martin Kobler, head of the UN Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO), declared in a press release.
“All the armed groups must now understand that any further attempt to use civilians as human shields shall not be tolerated,” he declared.
Speaking in South Africa where he was holding extensive consultations with senior local officials regarding the urgent security and political issues facing the DRC and surrounding region, Saïd Djinnit, the UN’s Special Envoy for the Great Lakes Region, called for a decisive action against the armed groups active in the DRC.
“We continue to witness horrific acts of violence perpetrated by illegal armed groups in eastern DRC, many of which directed at women and children,” Mr. Djinnit declared in a press release.
“The six-month deadline given to the FDLR to voluntarily disarm by the International Conference on the Great Lakes region (ICGLR) and the Southern African Development Community (SADC) expired on 2 January, and in the absence of progress, military action by the Government of DRC and MONUSCO should now commence without delay.”
The UN Special Envoy commended the South African Government’s “firm support” for the UN Force Intervention Brigade’s mandate and said he looked “forward to prompt and decisive military action” against the FDLR, with “every effort made to protect the civilian population.”
South Africa has since promised to fight FDLR; a pledge regional observers are likely to take with a pinch of salt.