The Democratic Republic of Congo’s (DRC) information minister says joint military offensives launched by the national army (FARDC) and the United Nations Mission to the country (MONUSC) to protect unarmed civilians have sharply reduced the number of rebel groups from 55 to about 20.
Lambert Mende also says another round of military offensives have been launched against the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) to defeat the armed group in a bid to ensure security and peace in parts of the country the rebels operate.
“Thanks to the combination of the FARDC and the assistance of MONUSCO, we managed now to reduce from 55 armed groups to 21 or less, and we hope that this phenomenon will end very soon in our country,” said Mende.
He acknowledged the existence of security threats to the population in spite of the successes achieved, since the remaining armed groups yet to be defeated continue to terrorize the population.
Mende says the administration will keep the pressure on the remaining rebels to further reduce their number and their attacks on the population.
“Of course we will reduce their number [and] their territorial expansion. Wherever they are as armed groups they are terrorizing our people and that is why we are after them. We are crushing them and our armed forces are fighting them,” said Mende.
He says the government has recently launched an offensive against the FDLR in the restive parts of the country including in North and South Kivu provinces.
Mende says the military campaign against the FDLR has been a success.
“When we started the fight against the FDLR their number was something amounting to 7,000 to 8,000. Now, they are less than 1,000. So we can say that a lot has been done in crushing those [rebels], forcing them back to their country or neutralizing them,” said Mende. “That is what we are doing now and with less than 1,000 they will soon disappear. We need them to disappear from our country or be neutralized and disarmed.”
He says the DRC administration is appreciative of MONUSCO’s cooperation to rid the country of armed groups, which he says will create peace and stability, the ingredients necessary to spur economic growth to improve the lives of citizens.
Clottey interview with Lambert Mende, DRC information minister