Straton Musoni discloses how Laurent Kabila duped EX-FAR combatants

On 25 July 2023 at 09:51

Straton Musoni, a co-founder of the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), has recently disclosed how Laurent Kabila, the former president of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), duped the former Rwanda Armed Forces (EX-FAR).

Musoni, who once served as the vice-president of the FDLR, disclosed that the group continues to collaborate with the Congolese Army (FARDC) and urged its combatants to cease hostilities, emphasizing the devastating effects of war that are known to all.

Originally specializing in rural and urban planning after his graduation in Germany, Musoni excelled in this field before choosing a career in political opposition, rather than returning to Rwanda to contribute to the development of his home country.

Born in Masoro, in the district of Rulindo, Musoni pursued his studies in Germany with the help of a state scholarship. In September 2015, he and Ignace Murwanashyaka, then president of the FDLR, were sentenced by the Stuttgart court to 13 and 8 years in prison, respectively. They were found guilty of ordering attacks in the North Kivu province between 2008 and 2009.

After serving his sentence, Musoni was repatriated to Rwanda. In October 2022, he was transferred to the Mutobo Demobilization Center, where he participated in civic education programs aimed at rehabilitating former combatants.

During an interview with IGIHE, Musoni revealed that his political engagement began with the Rally for the Return of Refugees and Democracy in Rwanda (RDR). He expressed how he became aware of the post-genocide situation in Rwanda and felt the urge to do something about it, leading him to become one of the founders of the FDLR and eventually serving as its vice-president.

In the aftermath of the genocide against the Tutsi in 1994, some of its instigators and perpetrators, particularly former military personnel, expressed their desire to return to Rwanda to commit genocide again. As the initial objectives of the RDR were not achieved, the FDLR was created with the intention to challenge the Rwandan Patriotic Front (FPR Inkotanyi) and reclaim power in Rwanda.

Musoni acknowledges that the FDLR’s formation was largely by former EX-FAR soldiers who believed that returning to Rwanda necessitated the use of weapons. However, over time, the group was classified as a terrorist armed organization.

The FDLR initially received support from Laurent Désiré Kabila, the then-president of the DRC, who promised to assist the EX-FAR in their attempt to overthrow the Rwandan government. In return, the EX-FAR supported Kabila against various armed groups threatening his power, including the Congolese Rally for Democracy (RCD).

Kabila, facing challenges from his opponents, including the RCD, later asked the EX-FAR to engage in dialogues, lay down their arms, and join the Rwanda Defense Forces (RDF), effectively abandoning his initial commitment. This is when the FDLR emerged.

Musoni reveals that the FDLR’s plan failed at a certain point, and they then attempted to pressure the RPF Inkotanyi into negotiations. The FDLR split into two sections: a political one and a military one (FDLR/FOCA), with both factions sourcing their weapons from Laurent Kabila’s army, the FARDC, and other armed groups.

He emphasizes that some FDLR members who once served in FARDC never handed over their weapons when they left Rwanda, but instead, they kept them. He further claims that the FARDC and FDLR currently collaborate when the government seeks their assistance in combating armed groups like the M23.

Musoni concluded by calling on the FDLR combatants to understand that the time for war is over and emphasized the importance of peace for Rwanda and the need to preserve it.

He reminded everyone of the disastrous consequences war brought to Rwanda, and he urged everyone to strive for a peaceful future.