Rwanda: DR Congo Army Announces 'Divorce' With FDLR

Rwandan President Paul Kagame with the U.S. Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines and her delegation during "constructive discussions focused on ways to de-escalate tensions and address the root causes of the security situation in eastern DRC."
22 November 2023

DR Congo's army (FARDC) has announced it will end any ties with the FDLR, a UN-sanctioned terrorist group based in the country's east, and whose leaders are accused of perpetrating the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda.

In a video message, shared on FARDC account on X on Tuesday, November 21, spokesperson Maj Gen Sylvain Ekenge, said all soldiers were informed of a "strict ban on establishing or maintaining any contact ... with the FDLR."

Ekenge said violators of the directive would be arrested and face the law.

"The principle of zero tolerance is now strictly applied," he said.

The FDLR was founded in May 2000 with the help of the Congolese political and military authorities - a fact admitted by one of its founders and former vice president Straton Musoni, who now lives in Rwanda.

The FARDC 's announcement comes after months of calls from regional and international organisations to end its collaboration with the FDLR, especially in the ongoing war with the M23 rebels in eastern DR Congo.

The conflict in particular has led to the diplomatic tensions between Rwanda and DR Congo, which accuses Kigali of supporting the rebels. Rwanda dismisses the allegation saying the rebellion is a Congolese issue.

The directive came one day after the visit by White House Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines to Rwanda and DR Congo where she met with Presidents Paul Kagame and Felix Tshisekedi.

The White House said in a statement following Haines's meeting with the two presidents "plan to take specific steps to reduce current tensions by addressing the respective security concerns of both countries."

The US has on numerous occasions condemned the collaboration of the FARDC and the FDLR.

The Rwandan government has for years called on the DR Congo government to end any ties and support to the FDLR, which launched attacks on its territory throughout the past two decades.

An October 2019 attack by one of the FDLR factions killed 14 civilians in Musanze District, Northern Province.

The FDLR was created by remnants of Interahamwe militia and the former Rwandan army responsible for the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.

The militia is accused of spreading hate speech and violence against the Congolese Tutsi communities.

The M23 rebels, whose stated mission is to protect Tutsi communities from the FDLR and its allied militias, says the genocidal group is integrated in the army.

It remains to be seen how the FARDC can dissociate itself from the FDLR, in spite of their longstanding ties.

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