Rwanda’s ambassador to the United Nations, Claver Gatete has questioned the silence of the UN Security Council on the long-standing alliance of the DR Congo government with FDLR genocidal force.
Gatete made the remarks on Friday December 9, while addressing a special session of the UN Security Council following the briefing of the Special Representative the Secretary General, Bintou Keita, on the situation in the DR Congo.
“When is the international community going to address the persistence of the FDLR and the alliance between the DR Congo army, FARDC and deadly armed groups, including the FDLR, a sanctioned genocidal terrorist group made up of remnants of the force that committed the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda?” Gatete questioned.
Rwanda has for decades expressed concerns over FDLR, including its support by DR Congo and collusion with their national army, FARDC. The alliance between FARDC and FDLR was responsible for several attacks on Rwandan territory, which claimed lives of innocent civilians.
“Although we agree with the Secretary-General’s report that the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the DR Congo should be respected; questions remain unanswered. When will we address the violations of Rwanda’s sovereignty and territorial integrity by the DR Congo, which occurred on several occasions as verified by the Expanded Joint Verification Mechanism?” Gatete questioned.
During the session, Congolese Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Christophe Lutundula Apala, dodged concerns regarding the alliance with FDLR despite several reports by international bodies pointing to the alliance.
He however later intervened after Gatete’s remarks saying that “there is no sign of FDLR existence in the DR Congo.”
In fact, the latest report of the UN Group of experts released on the same day, December 9, details a meeting held in May this year in a place called Pinga by FARDC top leadership with several armed groups including the FDLR to forge and renew their alliance.
FDLR’s Col Silencieux, and Col Potifaro attended the meeting that was coordinated by FARDC’s Col Salomon Tokolanga along with several representatives of different armed groups. The Pinga meeting promised FARDC to mobilise, recruit and reinforce the DR Congo national army with fighters to combat M23.
Tokolonga oversees operations and military intelligence of the FARDC’s 3411th regiment. The meeting was also confirmed in the October report by the Human Rights Watch which also indicated that Congolese officers from Tokolonga’s 3411th regiment provided more than a dozen boxes of ammunition to FDLR fighters in Kazaroho, one of their strongholds in the Virunga National Park on July 21.
Two months earlier, dozens of FDLR fighters reportedly took part in a large counteroffensive with government soldiers in the area around Rumangabo and Rugari.
Meanwhile during the meeting, Gatete took stock of different mechanisms in place to restore normalcy in DR Congo, but also condemned external influence that shields DR Congo from accountability for its actions.
“A military solution alone cannot resolve the root causes of the security crisis in eastern DRC and the Great Lakes Region. The regional Luanda and Nairobi mechanisms are essential processes that need shared commitment and political will to be fully implemented,” said Gatete.
He added that Rwanda remains committed and fully supports the ongoing regional peace processes; and has expectations that they will finally address the root causes and drivers of the endemic crisis in DR Congo, which impact neighbouring countries, including Rwanda.
“Rwanda deplores the unhelpful external interference in the regional and continental processes by some members of the international community that serve to shield the DRC from accountability for its unresponsiveness to commitments made through ongoing processes. Rwanda believes that the quest for long-lasting peace in the DRC cannot be achieved by spreading a false narrative, which exacerbates the problem and puts lives at risk,” Gatete said.
In qualifying his statement, the envoy pointed out that parallel forums by some countries are counterproductive to the ongoing African regional efforts and must cease to allow African regional processes to succeed.
Hate speech against Kinyarwanda speaking Congolese and Rwanda has escalated by several folds in the recent months leading to brutal assassination of several Kinyarwanda speaking Congolese.
Several top government officials in the DR Congo have been named among those fuelling hate speech.
“We are appalled by the silence of this Council on the hate speech, xenophobia, and killings targeting the Congolese Tutsi population, which has escalated. You have all heard the call of DRC political leaders, military leaders, church leaders, and civil society, calling for the killing of what they call enemies, traitors, infiltrators, unwanted or foreigners,” Gatete said.
He added: “This Council should ‘Never Again’ allow itself to reproduce the silence of the Council 28 years ago, which passively watched the rapid, systematic, and most widely broadcasted genocide that took over one million human lives in Rwanda.”
- A New Times report