Friday, February 20, 2009

DRC: Failure or Victory, the FDLR rebels keep disappearing in the wild

By Joachim Diana Gikupa

Also available in French:
Echec ou victoire, les FDLR disparaissent dans la nature

To date, what was the FDLR territory is occupied by the Congolese army (FARDC). This is the case of localities of Katoyi, Ruzugu, Kibua in south of Masisi territory. The FDLR run away and disappear in the wild. In some places, they give up arms, ammunition and other military equipments. When we see the FDLR dissolving in the wild, we ask ourselves many questions. It seems like we were fighting against a shadow. The importance of FDLR seems to have been exaggerated. It's time to recognize that the FDLR have bitten hard and that their forces have drastically reduced. It was surprising that in the past after the FDLR dispersal in the wild and after the disappearance of hundreds of thousands of these strenuous combatants throughout the whole time that the Rwandan soldiers had occupied the eastern DRC, the FDLR resistance has remained intact.

The joint military operation for the disarmament of the FDLR continues. Against all odds, the fighting that we all expected did not occur. The firepower of the FDLR resembles to a real scarecrow. Up to date, what was the FDLR territory is occupied by the FARDC. This is the case for the localities of Katoyi, Kibua, Ruzugu in south of the Masisi territory. The FDLR rebels run away and disappear in the wild.

In some places, they give up arms, ammunition and other military equipemnts. Since last Wednesday, these villages once considered as important fiefs of Rwandan Hutu rebels are under control of the FARDC. In total, according to reports from FADRC, since the beginning of the operations, about ten villages went from the yoke of the FDLR to the control of the Congolese national army.

One can say that after the dismantling of the CNDP of Nkunda, the Rutshuru territory is now totally under the control of the legitimate authorities of the DRC. The same is true of the Masisi territory. Obviously, the joint military operation to disarm the FDLR is bearing some fruits if we just consider that the initial goal was to put an end to insecurity in eastern Congo. But will there be any security as long as we do not know what happened to FDLR combatants that are fading in the wild? For the Congolese people, it is understandable that they too prefer to leave their villages. Simply because they fear that upon the FARDC departure, the FDLR may show up from their hideouts to take revenge on the peaceful population. This is why the end of the operation will not mean the withdrawal of the troops. But will we be able to deploy troops that are well equipped enough to deal with the FDLR in the case they come back to prey on Congolese people? In my opinion, the success of this joint military operation will depend on the ability of the troops to stop the FDLR combatants from relocating and prospering. This implies that provisions must be taken so that the Masisi and Rutshuru territories become unbearable for the FDLR rebels. It is anticipated that in the forest, if any possibility of exploitation of minerals in order to acquire the means to continue the resistance is prohibited to the FDLR, these combatants who are taking refuge in the jungle may voluntarily decide to leave their hideouts and submit themselves to disarmament and repatriation.

A real scarecrow

When we assist to the FDLR dissolving in the wild we ask ourselves many questions. It seems like having to fight against a shadow. The importance of the FDLR in the region seems to have been exaggerated. Who might have done so and why? Unfortunately, everyone is to blame, starting with the international community. We all tirelessly talked about these "genocidaires" and alleged that by simply thinking about them the Kigali regime is forbidden a sleep. In attempt to get rid of them, the Kigali regime came up and implemented sinister plans that have been detrimental to the Congolese people. The Kigali regime invaded Congo twice and deployed troops in what is today considered as stronghold of the FDLR. However, it is important to mention that the Rwandan army has overwhelmingly failed to neutralize the FDLR rebels. It has been now a month that the Rwandan troops have returned in DRC this time in accord with the Kinshasa regime. It is strongly believed that the same causes of the past may produce the same effects. Simply put it this way: there is a concern that the harvest may not be plentiful. The importance of the FDLR has also been exaggerated by some politicians, mainly those whose origin is in Kivu provinces. On of the many intriguing questions is that most people do not understand how the FDLR combatants lived in Congolese villages, cohabiting with the Congolese people without any complaint to the Congolese authorities. It is from this observation that some political actors, including some officials in Kigali conceived the theory of collaboration between the FDLR and the Congolese officials. Even though the FDLR rebels live among the Congolese population, we are obliged to dislodge them by all the means in our possession.

In Congo, there also is a large Tutsi community which strongly insisted on the destructive capacity of the FDLR, another way designed to somehow pressure the Kigali regime to focus on their struggle which later translated into a legitimate quest aimed at protecting Rwanda from the FDLR imminent attacks. It is now clear why the Congolese rebels have always backed the Rwandan government agenda. This was indeed the case for the RCD-Goma and the CNDP. Without the FDLR presence in DRC, the Kigali regime would become less interested in eastern Congo and would not stir up criticisms from the international community. It is important to mention that in order to further their political agenda the FDLR leaders have also exaggerated the importance of the FDLR military wing in their rhetoric. Using modern technology of communication, these leaders gave the FDLR a military dimension they indeed do not have in reality. The FDLR leaders convinced some of their western sponsors that with the FDLR military wing they could bring about substantial political changes in the Great Lakes Region of Africa. This firepower would therefore make the FDLR leaders strong partners during an inter-Rwandan dialogue with the Kigali regime. Today it is clear that the FDLR military wing is not what we thought they were. It is important to recall that for several years, this movement has not been able to pose any concrete security threat to the current regime in Kigali. Can you believe it? Up to date, the FDLR have not fired any single bullet in Rwanda! We now all understand that the FDLR military wing is nothing else than a symbolic dissuasive force aimed at bringing the Kigali regime to the negotiation table.

Getting rid of the boogeyman

That does not mean that the ongoing joint military operation against the FDLR rebels would not have any impact in the region. Far from that, it was necessary that this operation be conducted to ensure that both countries, Rwanda and DRC, get rid of that boogey. It's time to recognize that the FDLR rebels have been hit hard and that they have been drastically reduced. However, it is surprising that after their dispersal in the wild and after the disappearance of hundreds of thousands of these combatants killed during the two Rwanda’s invasions of the eastern DRC that the FDLR capacity to harm has remained intact. We must all take action. It is therefore premature to celebrate such an apparent victory over the FDLR rebels even though it is quite clear that the FDLR military wing is in no way comparable to the LRA movement in Uganda.
Kongo Times

Related materials:
US praises operation against Hutu rebels in DR Congo;_ylt=AtBpN6N1vcW71q0UOjrpy8a96Q8F


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