What is the point of FDLR demobilising?

Approximate area controlled by M23 – As of September 2, 2012 – Picture HRW

Former Rwandan Defence Forces [RDF] officers and politicians and M23 collaborators indicated that ex-FDLR combatants from within the RDF Reserve Force have been remobilized and deployed to Runyoni alongside M23.

There is a strong conviction among many people that the problem of insecurity in the Great Lakes region, and particularly in Democratic Republic of Congo, is not due to rebel movements, whatever number there is presently, but dictatorships in Kigali and Kampala who need them to perpetuate themselves into power.

Below detailed revelations which are extracted from the UN Group of Experts Addendum of 27 June 2012 are loudly telling. And they raise critical questions on the whole rationale of having militia and rebel forces operating in DRC demobilised, when they can be redeployed in the same manner by culprit regimes.

Demobilized ex-FDLR

20. The RDF has also deployed demobilized former FDLR combatants to reinforce M23. According to several former senior FDLR officers, all former combatants of Rwandan armed groups, upon completion of the Rwandan Demobilization and Reintegration Commission’s programme, are automatically enrolled in the RDF Reserve Force, commanded by General Fred Ibingira. As members of the Reserve Force, they can be ordered to deploy on behalf of the RDF on short notice. Former RDF officers and politicians and M23 collaborators indicated that ex-FDLR combatants from within the RDF Reserve Force have been remobilized and deployed to Runyoni alongside M23. Active FDLR officers in the Democratic Republic of the Congo also confirmed this remobilization of previously repatriated FDLR combatants. According to Rwandan former M23 combatants who escaped from Runyoni, small groups of former demobilized combatants arrive every day and are dispatched between the various M23 positions.

21. The Group interviewed two former FDLR, who had previously been demobilized in Rwanda and were sent to Runyoni in May 2012. Both belonged to the Reserve Force. One was deployed after being called by RDF officers, while the other was invited to join a meeting with other demobilized soldiers when he was instructed to depart for military service. Both were taken to the military base at Kinigi, where they received weapons and ammunition, and were escorted to Runyoni in the same way as the civilian recruits. Both testified that they had been sent to Runyoni in a group with 70 other people, among whom 31 were demobilized soldiers. Upon arrival, they saw 11 other demobilized soldiers at Chanzu (see S/2012/348, para.123).

Millions of dollars have been paid over the years by taxpayers from countries contributing to UN peacekeeping forces to demobilize militias operating in Democratic Republic of Congo. But that money is being wasted because of presidents/ warlords leading in Kampala [Uganda] and Kigali [Rwanda]. Solving the overall problem of instability in the region, if this has ever been genuinely pursued, needs to look at and address its root causes which lie into Museveni and Kagame’s political leadership.


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