17 July 2013

Rwanda - UN Brigade Aiding FDLR, Congo

Photo: Marie Frechon/MONUC
DR Congo army which has been accused of bombing western part of Rwanda (file photo).

The Government has accused the newly-deployed Force Intervention Brigade (FIB), under the UN Stabilisation Mission in the Congo (Monusco), of backing collaboration between DR Congo-based Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda militia (FDLR) and the Congolese army.

The accusations are contained in a letter that Rwanda's Ambassador to the UN Eugene-Richard Gasana wrote to the US's Ambassador Rosemary DiCarlo in her role as this month's president of the UN Security Council.

A case of two letters:

The letter, a copy of which this paper has obtained, is a replica of another that the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Louise Mushikiwabo, sent to the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon last week, according to Gasana's letter.

Amb. Gasana, also Rwanda's State minister for cooperation, said in the Tuesday letter that senior FIB commanders have held several meetings with FDLR commanders to discuss cooperation while the force is supposed to hunt down the rebels.

"The Government of Rwanda has credible, reliable and detailed information that various forms of tactical and strategic collaboration with the FDLR were discussed during those meeting," Gasana said in the letter. "Their actions, implicating senior UN commanders picking sides among the very armed groups whose military activities they are meant to deter, is of serious concern."

The FDLR militia is largely composed of elements responsible for the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda, which claimed the lives of a million people.

The newly-formed UN intervention brigade in eastern DR Congo is mandated to dismantle the group, among others.

But Rwanda says it's concerned that the militia is cooperating with the Congolese army, FARDC, in offensives that the army has been conducting on several armed groups in eastern DR Congo, especially against the M23 rebels who they are fighting near the North Kivu capital of Goma.

Kigali is concerned that reinforcement of the FDLR would allow the group to mount military operations against the Rwandan territory.

Such attacks have in the past compelled Rwanda to send its troops to eastern DR Congo to neutralise the rebels and ensure that Rwanda is safe from their attacks and their plan to continue their extermination agenda against the Tutsi.

Weapons delivery:

Amb. Gasana said Rwanda has reports of large quantities of weapons and ammunition delivered to FDLR by FARDC officers with the knowledge and support of FIB commanders.

The Rwandan government accused FIB commanders and contingents of observing as FARDC integrates FDLR units and commanders into its commando units near the border with Rwanda.

"The above-mentioned activities and patterns are developments that my government takes seriously, as they constitute a serious threat to the security of my country but also put into question the credibility of MONUSCO and its peacekeeping operations," Amb. Gasana said.

He added that any hidden agenda driven by political or economic interests would undermine efforts for peace in the region.

The FIB, which is made up of troops from South Africa, Tanzania and Malawi, has begun patrolling in eastern DR Congo and the completion of its full deployment is due by August.

Monusco refutes Rwanda's claims:

Reacting to the accusations, Monusco spokesperson Madnodje Mounoubai told The New Times by telephone yesterday that the mission has not found any proof of the actions taking place.

"Monusco has not been able to substantiate these accusations," he said.

Mounoubai instead called on both Rwanda and the DR Congo to stop counter accusations, the latter having continually accused Rwanda of supporting M23 rebels.

"We are actually calling on all parties to exercise restraint and not to escalate the situation. The losers (in the conflict) are actually civilians on the ground," Mounoubai said, highlighting an already alarming number of internally displaced persons in eastern DR Congo.

On Monday, two mortar bombs fired from an area under the control of FARDC and Monusco landed in villages in Rubavu District, according to Rwandan government.

The Rwandan government described the bombing act as "provocative and deliberate" by FARDC and Monusco since there was no fighting nearby between the Congolese warring factions.

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