By JAMES MUNYANEZA and EDWIN MUSONI
The Government has described DR Congo’s new action plan to disarm the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) rebels as unrealistic. According to a classified document obtained by The New Times, Foreign Affairs minister Dr Charles Murigande told a group of donors on October 23 that the plan was not different from the usual rhetoric of voluntary disarmament by the rebels.
FDLR is largely composed of remnants of the former Rwandan Armed Forces (FAR) and Interahamwe, groups which are largely responsible for the slaughter of at least one million people during the 1994 Rwanda Genocide.
The Minister explained that such an action plan was not the first to be made, that there are others that were previously made, which were even better than the one of DRC…. When you closely examine it, you find nothing tangible in it,’ the document stated.
It says that Murigande told the donors that the action plan, which the DRC sent to Rwanda recently, indicates that Kinshasa will further sensitise FDLR rebels ‘on voluntary repatriation (to their country), assembling them in one place and identifying those willing to return home and those that do not.’
The plan, according to the document, is such that the rebels who would choose to return home, would be facilitated to do so, where as those who will show no interest to repatriate, would be relocated to a Congolese area far from the two countries’ common border.
‘The rest of the action plan is just historical background,’ the minister reportedly told the diplomats.
However, Rwanda has said relocating the rebels to anywhere within Congo cannot deter them from destabilising Rwanda.
Murigande described the suggestion that ex-FAR/Interahamwe (FDLR rebels) would disarm voluntarily as a fantasy.
He also argued that if relocation was to be part of the solution, the rebels that do not want to repatriate should be moved to another country far from Rwanda.
Murigande (right) said the government was still examining the action plan and would state its position in a written response to DRC government.
Fourteen representatives from various donor agencies attended in the meeting.
The donors which support Rwanda’s Multi-country Demobilisation and Reintegration Programme (MDRP) include the World Bank, Belgium, Netherlands, UK, US, Germany, Canada and the European Union (EU).
Murigande told the development partners that mere ‘kind words and songs aired on Radio Okapi’ will not convince ex-FAR/Interahamwe diehards to voluntarily disarm and return home.
‘The Minister made it clear that other measures need to be used (to disarm and repatriate FDLR), and that Monuc ( the UN Mission in DRC) need to be fully involved, because it is clear that Monuc is not committed to resolving this problem,’ the paper indicates.
Murigande wondered why Monuc has always claimed not to have the mandate and capacity to dislodge FDLR and yet the 17-000 strong UN force has always enthusiastically worked together with Congolese government army to fight rebel General Laurent Nkunda’s troops.
“Whenever it is about fighting FDLR, they claim not to have capacity, but whenever it’s about fighting Gen. Nkunda, the capacity is available,” Murigande charged, according to the Foreign Affairs ministry document.
He reiterated that the government would not give the rebels any concessions, rather they should lay down arms and return home as any other Rwandans and contribute to their country’s development.
He said thousands of former militias have fully been re-integrated into the community, with some occupying political and military positions.
Murigande queried what ‘special treatment’ the rebels want adding that “what they instead deserved was a special treatment with regard to the atrocities they committed.”
The donors were led by Ingo Wiederhofer, the World Bank Team Leader for the MDRP.
The meeting was also attended by the President of Rwanda Demobilisation and Reintegration Commission (RDRC), Jean Sayinzoga.
The New Times