The Democratic Republic of Congo’s information minister says the country’s army has intensified its military offensive against the Allied Democratic Forces - rebels originally from Uganda, blamed for the recent killing of two Tanzania soldiers.
Lambert Mende said the government is determined to root out the armed group in a bid to protect life and property of unarmed citizens in parts of the country where the rebels often operate.
“We cannot accept that killing against our partners of MUNOSCO [UN Mission in DRC] because they came here to help [fight] for peace. So, that is why we have decided to intensify our offensive against them and we are very far now deeply engaged in the forest and we have discovered and destroyed all their remnants and we are doing it with big success,” said Mende.
His comments came after one of the military offensives led to the killing of the third in command of the ADF rebels last week.
DRC’s national army has often launched joint military offensives against various armed groups in the country including the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR).
The FDLR is blamed for playing a key role in the Rwandan 1994 genocide. However, MONUSCO recently said it will no longer partner the DRC’s national army in the fight against the FDLR, following a disagreement with the DRC government.
Some victims of the rebel attacks expressed concern that the FDLR could use the disagreement to continue the insurgency unhampered.
But, Mende says the national army will also fight the rebels without the cooperation of the U.N. troops until MONUSCO resolves the disagreement.
“As long as the FDLR is concerned I think [MONUSCO is] well aware of why our government took the decision not to cooperate with them. It is [on] them to meet all these reasons we gave why we were not happy. So if they would want to go by themselves, it is not forbidden,” he said.
“It is one of their mandates that were given to them by the U.N. [Security Council]. If these reasons are met then I think things can change, but since these reasons have yet to be met, why not they can go by themselves as we are going by ourselves,” Mende added.
He sharply denied concerns that the disagreement will give any breathing room to the FDLR rebels.
“Only someone who is not well aware of the ongoing situation can think FDLR can be given a chance. I think they are disappearing and we have neutralized more than half among them, the offensive is going well,” Mende said.