Congolese army exposes its ally

By Esther Muhozi
On 25 April 2024 at 12:36

The spokesperson for the Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of Congo (FARDC), Major General Sylvain Ekenge, has condemned the terrorist group FDLR, which has been collaborating with the country’s army in the fight against M23 in North Kivu province.

In a broadcast titled ’30 Years Is Enough!’ aired on national radio and television from April 15, 2024, Major General Ekenge openly stated that over the past 30 years, the FDLR has played a significant role in the deaths of Congolese people.

He said, "The FDLR attacks Congolese people, kills Congolese people; in the over ten million killed in the past 30 years, FDLR has a significant percentage in causing these deaths."

These remarks contradict those of the Minister of Communication and Spokesperson of the RDC government, Patrick Muyaya, who organized the program and claimed that the FDLR no longer exists because its fighters have returned to Rwanda following military operations against them.

Major General Ekenge highlighted the seriousness of these terrorist activities, having been involved in operations against the FDLR, including ’Operation Amani Kwetu’ and Sokola, serving as the spokesperson in North Kivu until his promotion in 2022.

While some members of the DRC government distance themselves from it, Major General Ekenge is well aware that the FDLR is still active and has been reinforced, having attended a meeting at the Rumangabo military camp on February 3, 2022.

This meeting, which included Gen Pacifique Ntawunguka (Omega), leader of the group, and officers from the national army, discussed ongoing issues.

As the military spokesperson in the region, Major General Ekenge attended other meetings, including those held in Pinga on May 8 and 9, 2022. The FDLR, along with other notorious groups like Nyatura, APCLS, and NCD-R, agreed with the government to assist in combating M23.

Based on a meeting held on June 19, 2022, General Omega and Lt Gen Constant Ndima Kongba, then governor of the region, agreed that each fighter from a special FDLR unit called CRAP would be paid 300 dollars monthly while engaged in combat in the Kibumba group in Nyiragongo territory.

The United States listed the FDLR as a terrorist organization in December 2001 after it attacked tourists in Uganda’s Bwindi National Park, resulting in eight deaths, including two Americans.

Various reports, including those by United Nations security experts monitoring the situation in the DRC, have shown that the FDLR is one of the groups greatly troubling the local population due to its role in abuses and harassment of the Congolese people.

Due to these harmful activities, the RDC military has been urged to cease all cooperation and support for this group. Regional leaders have also demanded that its fighters leave North Kivu and return to Rwanda, or else face military action.

Following this pressure, RDC government representatives at talks in Luanda, Angola, in March 2024, agreed to plan the dismantling of the FDLR, promising Rwandan representatives and the mediator (Angola) that they would outline how this would be accomplished.

However, there is skepticism about the DRC government’s commitment to this promise, as evidenced on March 25, 2024, when the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Christophe Lutundula, leading the Congolese delegation in Luanda, told reporters he had no information about the FDLR.

Lutundula stated, "A year ago, on behalf of the President and government, I told the UN and African Union that Congo asks the international community, any country with information about the FDLR, to reveal their locations and then help us eradicate them. It’s not a lie, but we haven’t received any response."

Major General Ekenge continues to expose the FDLR’s ongoing killing of Congolese people, but when it comes to the government, it appears they lack information about this group that is significantly involved in the ongoing conflict in the region.

There is no doubt that the RDC military is complicit in the wrongdoing committed by FDLR fighters, as it has been providing them with support and weapons since 2000.

Major General Ekenge announced that the FDLR played a major role in the deaths of 10 million Congolese.