What is behind DRC’s self-contradictory statements on FDLR?

On 2 June 2022 at 02:10

Congolese Military (FARDC) has revealed that it doesn’t understand how the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) poses threat to Rwanda ‘because it is comprised of people simply seeking means for survival’.

FDLR is a rebel outfit comprised of remnant masterminds of the 1994 Genocide against Tutsi.

The Spokesperson of FARDC, Maj Gen Léon-Richard Kasonga has said that the army to which he belongs made possible efforts to decimate FDLR that it no longer a threat.

“And do not forget; how many people died on the battle to fight FDLR? How many men, parents, children, young men and girls killed in North and South Kivu fighting FDLR?”

Rwanda raised the concerns recently after learning that FARDC is collaborating with FDLR in its armed clashes with M23.

Rwanda also accuses FARDC of having shelled on its land and kidnapped two RDF soldiers in collaboration with FDLR.

Rwanda denounced these provocations and asked DRC to stop working with the FDLR.

In his statement, Kasonga has alluded to Rwanda’s concerns and sanitized FDLR as a force which poses no security threat.

“We fought these rebels with courage and defeated them on our territory that they are not currently a threat to their countries of origin,” he said.

“We can use ten, nine or eight from a particular place seeking food or medications to survive but they can’t destabilize anyone even the security of their homeland,” added Maj Gen Kasonga.

He explained that he has piled files about FDLR which don’t contain even a single record of the force’s attacks to Rwanda.

“I have files in my office. You can see a large folder about FDLR but you cannot see any attack it waged on Rwanda. We have defeated this group,” noted Kasonga.

Speaking to the media recently; Rwanda’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dr. Vincent Biruta confirmed that FARDC is working with FDLR through a plan to help the genocidaire force to stay closer to Rwanda and threaten its security.

“FARDC is Congolese Military. Today, we are informed that they have teamed up with FDLR to fight. They provided them with military uniforms and put them on frontline. However, you can understand that FARDC has own plans as does FDLR. It is about coming closer to Rwanda’s border to conduct terrorist activities in Rwanda,” he said.

“They are fighting together that it seems to be one army. They organize meetings and synchronize plans of intended courses of action. It is a known reality. At the end, they come with MONUSCO under what is termed as support to FARDC,” added Minister Biruta.

“When you work with FARDC knowing that it merged soldiers with FDLR, you have chosen to work with FDLR in that case.”

FDLR is a rebel outfit comprised of remnant masterminds of the 1994 Genocide against Tutsi living in DRC forests. They plotted different attacks to Rwanda mainly between 1995 -1999. They plotted more hit and run attacks later to threaten Rwanda’s security but were repelled back.

While in DRC forests, FDLR birthed many rebel groups including RUD Urunana and FLN which attacked Rwanda between 2018 and 2019 through Nyungwe National Park.

Analysts say that decimating FDLR in DRC might be a loss to some Congolese soldiers who uses the rebel outfit to exploit the country’s natural resources. They further explain that it is the reason why the military can hardly accept its presence and the security threat it poses to Rwanda.

The declaration by FARDC sanitizing FDLR seems to be self-contradictory following last year’s announcement by the Government of Congo claiming that FDLR killed Italian Ambassador to the country.

At the time, the Governor of North Kivu said that FDLR fighters ambushed a motorcade of World Food Programme (WFP) and took passengers including Italian Ambassador into the Virunga National Park and killed them.

“DRC is self-contradicting. If the aforementioned ten, nine or eight people said to be seeking means for survival are the ones who killed the ambassador, how can you declare that they pose no threat,” a political analyst has told IGIHE.

Last year, FDLR plotted attacks to Rwanda and shot five cows belonging to a resident of Bugeshi in Rubavu District. One of them died while others were injured.

Before the incident, members of the rebel force had raided a savings and credit cooperative (SACCO) in the same sector, destroyed commercial buildings and looted residents’ belongings.

The Spokesperson of FARDC, Maj Gen Léon-Richard Kasonga has said that FDLR is no longer a threat to the region.