Friday, May 30, 2014

DR Congo: FDLR surrender ? Maybe - Just maybe.

Reuters reports

Rwandan rebels begin to surrender, but demand talks with Kigali

A militant from the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) squats near a pile of weapons after their surrender in Kateku, a small town in eastern region of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), May 30, 2014.

(Reuters) - Rwandan rebels in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo began what they claimed was the first step in disarming their fighters on Friday, but warned that continuing the process would depend on the government in Kigali agreeing to talks.
Kigali needs to come to the table now. I agree with the Kigali line that you do not negotiate with terrorists and that is the only possible way to describe the FDLR. This partial surrender however changes the dynamics somewhat and if Rwanda is serious about cleaning this mess up now is the time to compromise.

The Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) said last month that they would "lay down their weaponry and consecrate themselves to political struggle."
About 100 fighters surrendered during a ceremony in North Kivu province, handing in weapons including some heavy artillery, according to a Reuters witness.
Charly Kasereka is on the ground in Bulessa Village‬ which may suggest that the surrender is gathering pace although I would take that with a grain of salt. Charly tweets:

Just 105 militiamen with 102 weapons present at much-touted #FDLR"surrender"

                                              Charly Kasereka in a bulletproof ( I assume ) vest second from right.

"With this act of good faith the international community is called to assume its responsibility to obtain a political dialogue among Rwandans," said FDLR president, General Victor Byiringiro.
Authorities in Rwanda have repeatedly rejected the possibility of negotiations with the FDLR, which Kigali considers a terrorist organization that espouses a genocidal ideology.
The ball would seem to be in President Kagame's court.

Composed in part of former soldiers and Hutu militia who fled into Congo after massacring around 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus during Rwanda's 1994 genocide, the FDLR has since sought to topple the government of President Paul Kagame.
They are regularly accused of human rights abuses, including civilian massacres. And this week FDLR fighters burned homes and schools in North Kivu's Walikale district during clashes with a rival militia group, according to United Nations-sponsored radio.
Their presence along the border has also served as a pretext for Rwandan military interventions in Congo, helping fuel nearly two decades of conflict there that have killed millions.
Friday's ceremony was attended by representatives of Congo's U.N. peacekeeping mission, known as MONUSCO, the South African Development Community (SADC), and the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region.
The FDLR has on previous occasions said it was ready to disarm, only to later backtrack. And most officials remained cautious, however, and shied away from making pledges to support talks with the Rwandan government.
"There will be no negotiations with the FDLR. They have offered to surrender, and we will see if this process is effective," Congolese government spokesman Lambert Mende said.
Over 25,000 FDLR fighters have demobilized since 2002, but those numbers have slowed to a trickle in recent years. The estimated 2,000 remaining rebels have hidden themselves among communities in Congo's dense forests.
Last year, bolstered by a special Intervention Brigade with a robust mandate to carry out offensive operations, MONUSCO launched a military campaign against the remaining armed groups operating in the volatile, mineral-rich borderlands.
"We hope that the commanders join this process (of demobilization), not just the militiamen, because we have a mandate to neutralize armed groups and want to see an end to the FDLR in Congo," said one U.N. official, who asked not to be named.
I will update this later. Hat Tip Charly Kasereka.

No comments:

Post a Comment