Rwanda has strongly criticised the United Nations over its decision to withdraw support from the Congolese military, FARDC, effectively delaying a planned offensive against rebels in the east of the vast country.
Monusco, the UN peacekeeping mission to Democratic Republic of Congo, announced this week it was suspending its support to the Central African country’s army in its offensive against the Rwandan FDLR rebels, who are accused of involvement in the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.
The UN said two Congolese generals in charge of the operation are accused of “massive violations” of human rights.
Rwanda’s Foreign Affairs Minister Louise Mushikiwabo questioned the decision, which is likely to further delay the offensive, in a post on her Twitter handle.
“How does one pause before starting?” Ms Mushikiwabo tweeted. She added later that “It’s a billion-and-a-half-dollar-a-year nonsense” in apparent reference to Monusco, which is the UN’s largest peacekeeping mission in the world with an annual budget of $1.5 billion.
While updating parliament on Rwanda’s foreign policy and diplomatic relations on Thursday, Ms Mushikiwabo said the countries funding Monusco should be “ashamed.” She said the international community had continued to “play around” with the issue of FDLR despite Rwanda’s pleas to the world to neutralise the militias, who Kigali says maintain a genocide ideology.
Ms Mushikiwabo, who has been critical of the UN’s approach to the matter, spoke of a conspiracy to frustrate efforts to neutralise FDLR.
“Very often, we have expressed our concern about the presence of the FDLR in eastern DRC and the danger it poses to regional security, but several countries and politicians continue to meddle in the efforts to defeat the rebels,” she said, without naming any countries. “People have resorted to playing dirty politics over the matter and using FDLR as a proxy to destabilise Rwanda.”
Rwanda sees the continued presence of the FDLR close to its border as an existential threat. It has twice sent troops into Congo to pursue the militants and has been accused of supporting proxy militias, including the M23, to contain the FDLR.
A six-month UN ultimatum to the rebels to disarm or surrender lapsed on January 2 unheeded despite the threat of military attacks for non-compliance.
Tanzania and South Africa are among countries that have contributed troops to the UN Force Intervention Brigade that was expected to engage in a “joint operation” with Congolese government forces against the rebels, but Kigali has accused Dar es Salaam of sympathising with and supporting the FDLR.
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