[Francophones] Je fais suivre cet article tel qu'il est publié par le quotidien de Kigali "New Times"
Bishop Venuste Mutiganda
audivia2002 at yahoo.fr
Mar 5 Jan 14:26:07 GMT 2010
Tuesday, 5th January 2010
LOOKING AHEAD 2010 : Rwanda-DRC relations and reigning in the FDLR threat – a glimpse into 2010
DR Congo Gen.Didier Etumba presents Umoja wetu Logo to Rwanda’s Defence Minister Marcel Gatsinzi at the end of the operation early last year.
BY JAMES KARUHANGA
With no doubt, the recent exchange of envoys between DRC and Rwanda coming after the two Heads of State meeting in the Congolese border town of Goma last August point to the fact that relations between the two countries are at their best.
This, coupled with recent positive developments between Kigali and Kinshasa are harbingers of what is expected in 2010, particularly in the context of the ongoing war against the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR).
It is clear that the momentous steps taken by the Rwandan and Congolese governments in 2009 set the tone for what the future holds for the wider region’s security and development.
Two operations last year – one dubbed Umoja Wetu that comprised Rwandan and Congolese forces (FARDC) and the second one (Kimia II) between MONUC and the Congolese army squeezed the FDLR’s room for maneuver, limited its control over the Congolese population as well as weakened its ability to exploit DRC’s mineral wealth.
Nonetheless, even though more populous parts of the Kivus have become safer, the fact that swathes of remote districts of eastern DRC remain lawless cannot be disguised.
The achievements of operations Umoja Wetu and Kimia II against the group cannot be ignored but it is important to note that the FDLR threat remains.
On the other hand, improved relations between the two neighbours and the current shared awareness that FDLR is a ‘common enemy’ since it has killed and maimed thousands in both countries, means that the rebels can run, but can’t hide.
The FDLR, whose core is the ex-Far and Interahamwe militias, repulsed from Rwanda in 1994, after orchestrating the Genocide against the Tutsi have exported their killing spree into eastern DRC and the cost of their stay has been catastrophic.
In DRC’s eastern provinces of North Kivu and South Kivu, apart from pillaging the countries’ mineral wealth to support their murderous campaign, hundreds of civilians have been killed, women and girls sexually abused by rebel outfit.
What is critically important is that even though the group has entrenched itself in the DRC for the past 15 years, today, it stays there not as an invited guest – but only as hunted outlaw.
After the two governments agreed to jointly fight the FDLR thousands of combatants and their dependants have surrendered and repatriated.
Ever since Rwanda-DRC relations normalized, dealing with the rebels has taken another level.
Analysts now concur that the DRC should focus on consolidating its control over areas that have been cleared of the FDLR.
In this regard, it is worth adding that another urgent priority should be securing the major mines – pushing the rebels out of the rich mineral areas and into deeper jungle areas where they can barely survive.
Genuine international support is critical in curtailing the activities of FDLR leaders overseas in addition to continued military pressure on the group’s combatants in the eastern DRC jungle as will effectively crush the rebels, and impede further FDLR-induced turmoil.
The November arrest in Germany of the FDLR’s Political head Ignace Murwanashyaka, alongside his deputy, Straton Musoni, on terrorism charges was a blow that reduced the rebels’ morale.
The international community must maintain firm pressure on the FDLR’s international network if this scenario is to prevail.
Alarming allegations that some UN peacekeepers have colluded with some in DRC’s army to help the FDLR, however, is a factor that complicates the already seemingly intricate state of affairs.
The recent UN experts’ report revealed that the rebels survive by exchanging DRC’s gold and other mineral exploits for sophisticated weaponry.
The alarming report exposed a network of allies comprising of individuals, companies, charities and governments that have aided the survival of FDLR by supplying the ragtag rebel outfit with arms and other various forms of support.
This only means that good relations with the DRC are an important factor as the campaign against the FDLR intensifies in 2010, but also crucial is the wider perspective which involves acquiring the international community’s support in what should be a wide and stretched battle.
Some positive signs have been registered, first with the arrest, in Germany, of Murwanashyaka and his deputy, but the end-game of the Germany episode is what matters most.
Apparently, the evidence against the two is damning. But the bigger question is – will the two be tried and sentenced?
Recently, for the first time ever, Germany has enacted a law enabling it to try criminals accused of violating the International Humanitarian Law and, the world is watching as the trial of Murwanyashyaka and Musoni, in Germany, is expected to set a new precedent.
The current developments in Rwanda-France relations as well factor in.
On November 29, the two governments announced agreement as well as plans to restore diplomatic relations three years after they severed ties following an incident triggered by controversial indictments issued by a French Judge.
Till now, France continues to harbor a good number of alleged genocide masterminds, some already indicted by both the Rwandan government and the ICTR.
However, the European country’s now says it is committed to supporting peace initiatives in the Great Lakes region and has pledged to “contribute actively in reinforcing actions of the international community against people responsible for the Genocide in Rwanda and armed groups who are destabilizing eastern DRC.”
Two top investigative French judges from the Paris Court of Higher Instance recently visited the country to investigate cases of Genocide fugitives residing on French soil.
The question, now, is – besides the political rhetoric; will France and other EU countries harboring known genocide fugitives come clean in 2010?
The litmus test here, undeniably, is whether France is really ready to disown the known members of the FDLR militia group and key genocide masterminds residing in the European nation.
As a point in case, the French government in November announced that in France, a judicial case has been opened against Callixte Mbarushimana, FDLR’s Executive Secretary, for his alleged involvement in the 1994 Genocide.
The pace of his actual trial and eventual sentencing, hopefully sometime in 2010, if he is found guilty, will leave much to tell about how many more days the FDLR have.
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