By James Munyaneza
KIGALI – The Congolese government army is collaborating with FDLR rebels and has lately increased its weaponry supplies to the Genocide force, a top aide to President Paul Kagame has said. Dr Richard Sezibera, Kagame’s Special Envoy to the Great Lakes Region, has said that Congolese military commanders have continuously supplied the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) rebels with arms, ammunition and other war materials.
FDLR is composed of remnants of the defunct Rwandan government soldiers (ex-Far) and Interahamwe militia, which are jointly blamed for the massacre of over a million people during the 1994 Genocide.
“There is now overwhelming information on the collaboration of the FDLR with many FARDC (Congolese army) units.
Congolese Commanders have supplied genocidal troops with arms, ammunition and other war materiel.
These supplies have increased especially within the months of July, August, September and early October 2007,” Sezibera said in a statement. (see page 6)
He decries the slow response given to the FDLR problem, and recalled several slaughters committed by the rebel group, which was at one time blacklisted as a terrorist group by the US.
“To prove to any lingering doubters of their (FDLR’s) determination to exterminate a people, they were key architects of the massacre of innocents at Gatumba, in Burundi, working together with local Congolese commanders and various Mai Mai groups as well as the FNL –Palipehutu of Burundi.
“Captured Officers and soldiers who took part in the Gatumba operation have given graphic and worrying details of the cooperation between very senior FARDC local Commanders, FDLR and other negative forces in the massacre,” he stated.
He said that several FDLR officers and men have been captured fighting alongside DRC soldiers against Congolese rebel leader General Laurent Nkunda’s National Congress for the Defence of the People (CNDP).
FDLR has lately fired on the Rwandan soil with the latest attack coming on the night of September 30 on Busasamana Sector, Rubavu District.
It was the second attack in six months following the March 3 incident during which the rebels used artillery shells to fire on Rubavu.
Meanwhile, fresh information from Congo indicate that Nkunda fighters, who are currently engaged in fierce fighting with government forces, recently captured several FDLR soldiers including a commander at the rank of major.
The New Times established that FDLR’s Maj. Innocent Nsengiyumva and Warrant Officer II Edward Sesonga are among Nkunda’s latest Prisoners of War (POW).
Both officers were reportedly arrested while fighting alongside FARDC’s sixth Brigade which is commanded by Col. Mushindi.
“Mushindi is the brigade’s officer commander, but it was Maj. Nsengiyumva practically commanding the troops at the battle front,” a source in the war-torn North Kivu province said.
Nsengiyumva has also been the commander of FDLR’s fourth battalion, which lately deployed 15km north of Goma, the Capital of North Kivu, which is close to Rwanda’s Rubavu border.
Sources say it’s this very battalion that attacked Rwanda on September 30 with the aid of FARDC’s 9th Brigade, which is under the command of Col. Smith Gihanga.
Reliable sources further said that on August 23, the Second in Command of Congo’s 8th Military Region (equivalent of military division) based in eastern Congo Colonel Delphine Kayimbi, supplied GPMG and LMG ammunitions, 44 boxes of AK-47 ammunitions, and 30 boxes of 82mm bombshells.
“On September 22, Colonel Kayimbi once again supplied FDLR’s fourth battalion with a Fuso truckload of assorted ammunitions,” a source said.
Col. Kayimbi, also reportedly supplied the Rwandan militants with artillery ammunitions on the same day.
It is these supplies that were allegedly used the rebels during their last month’s attack on Rwanda. Kinshasa has also reportedly supplied military uniforms to the FDLR fighters.
Sources say that DRC’s 14th Brigade commanded by Col. David Rugayi supplied 375 pairs of uniform to FDLR Reserve Brigade about a month ago.
It is alleged that FARDC currently maintains ten brigades in North Kivu fighting alongside five FDLR battalions against Gen. Nkunda loyalists in a war that has displaced thousands of civilians.
The five FDLR battalions are third, fourth and three others under the FDLR Reserve Brigade.
“As we speak, there is another group of FDLR in South Kivu which is moving northwards to reinforce the five (FDLR) battalions against Nkunda,” a source said.
On October 10, a Swiss-based organisation, FAST International, said that allegations that the UN Mission in Congo (Monuc) was aware of the alleged FARDC’s support of a ‘loose FDLR-Mai Mai (a pro-Kinshasa militia) alliance in the fight against Nkunda’ have proven explosive for a variety of reasons.
In late-September, the BBC reported that it had evidence that the FARDC were supporting the FDLR-Mai Mai alliance, and that Monuc was aware of this.
Monuc denied such a link.
The development comes at a time when DRC President Joseph Kabila is in Washington DC where he is due to meet with US President George Bush today.
Both leaders are expected to discuss the security situation in eastern DRC. The US is seen as key player in the regional politics particularly due to its facilitating role in the Tripartite Plus Joint Commission, a regional diplomatic platform bringing together Burundi, DRC, Rwanda and Uganda.
Efforts to talk to Congo’s Foreign Affairs and Regional Cooperation Minister Mbusa Nyamwisi were fruitless yesterday as he was reported be in Washington as part of Kabila’s entourage. And when The New Times called his spokesperson, Claude Kamanga, he promised to talk to us after an hour, but by press time, his cellular phone was off.
Congo’s Defence Minister Diema Chikez could also not be reached as his phone was off by the time we went to press.
It was equally impossible to get a comment from Monuc as the Kigali-based Liaison officer Joe Felly declined to comment, referring this reporter to the Goma office.
However, the telephone for the head of Monuc office in Goma, Ulli Mwambulukutu, was also switched off.
The Public Affairs Officer of the US Embassy in Kigali, Brian George, declined to comment on the latest reports, saying the embassy can only speak after today’s meeting between Bush and Kabila.
He said their discussions would centre on the current situation in eastern DRC and the general situation in the vast African country following last year’s elections.
Meanwhile, George maintained that the US government still regards the FDLR as a terrorist group.
“We identify them as a terrorist group and that position has not changed.”
The diplomat said that last year President Bush last year signed an order imposing sanctions against individual FDLR members.
The leader of the rebel group, Ignace Murwanashyaka, traveled from DRC to Germany in April last year, in violation of 2005 financial and travel embargo by the UN Security Council.
The New Times