Rwanda sounds alarm to UN over security threats from SADC alliance with armed groups including FDLR

On 16 February 2024 at 12:47

The Rwandan government has formally raised its concerns with the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) regarding the cooperation between the Southern African Development Community (SADC) forces and various armed factions, including the Rwandan genocidal forces (FDLR and its splinter groups), which is perceived as a threat to Rwanda’s stability.

This apprehension was communicated in a document submitted by Rwanda’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Dr. Vincent Biruta, through Rwanda’s Permanent Mission to the United Nations to Carolyn Rodrigues-Birkett, the President of the United Nations Security Council, on February 13, 2024.

Dr. Biruta highlighted the alliance between SADC forces and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), warning that such a partnership might escalate the conflict in the region and increase hostilities.

He emphasized the presence of over 260 armed groups within the DRC and accused the SADC forces of selectively supporting the DRC Armed Forces (FARDC) alongside Burundian Forces (FDNB), European mercenaries, Rwandan genocidal forces (FDLR and its splinter groups), and various ideologically and ethnically motivated local armed groups, known as wazalendo.

These groups, he noted, are committed to the ethnic cleansing of Congolese Tutsi, escalating the situation to levels reminiscent of the precursors to the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda.

Dr. Biruta also addressed joint operations between the SADC-led mission in the DRC (SAMIDRC) and these "negative groups" against the M23 rebels, in defiance of recommendations from the East African Community (EAC)-led Nairobi Process and the Angola-led Luanda initiative.

He expressed concern over the public statements by the presidents of the DRC and Burundi to support a regime change in Rwanda and heightened ethnic tensions in the region.

The minister further criticized the hyper-militarization of eastern DRC and the potential support from the UN for the coalition driving the conflict escalation, despite the ongoing ethnic violence and aggressive rhetoric from regional leaders.

He relayed concerns about the United Nations Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (MONUSCO) potentially supporting the SADC forces, Burundi, and the FDLR, which he argued could implicate the UN in acting on wrong premises by aligning with efforts perceived as targeting Congolese Tutsis and destabilizing Rwanda.

Dr. Biruta called out the international community for overlooking the fundamental causes of the conflict, including support for Rwandan genocidal forces in eastern DRC, the DRC government’s refusal to address the grievances of Congolese Rwandophones, particularly Tutsis, and the failure to repatriate Congolese refugees.

He argued that UN support for FARDC and its allies would further encourage a military approach over a peaceful resolution to the crisis.

Highlighting the risks of exacerbating the long-standing crisis in eastern DRC, including the potential for ethnic conflict and regional warfare, Dr. Biruta urged the UNSC to reconsider its stance on providing logistical and operational support to the FARDC-led coalition.

He advocated for a peaceful resolution through the Nairobi and Luanda processes and affirmed Rwanda’s commitment to contributing to peace in the eastern DRC.

Nonetheless, he warned that Rwanda will continue to take preventive and defensive measures against the declared intention of the presidents of DRC and Burundi to remove the Government of Rwanda and the threat posed by the Rwandan genocidal forces operating in the eastern DRC.

Rwanda's Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Dr. Vincent Biruta.