News / Africa

UN Congo Peacekeepers Question Rwandan Rebel Disarmament Claim

FILE - A fighter from the FDLR rebel group, which is being hunted by the Rwandan and Congolese armies, stands guard deep in the bush of eastern Congo.FILE - A fighter from the FDLR rebel group, which is being hunted by the Rwandan and Congolese armies, stands guard deep in the bush of eastern Congo.
x
FILE - A fighter from the FDLR rebel group, which is being hunted by the Rwandan and Congolese armies, stands guard deep in the bush of eastern Congo.
FILE - A fighter from the FDLR rebel group, which is being hunted by the Rwandan and Congolese armies, stands guard deep in the bush of eastern Congo.
Reuters
Senior members of a Rwandan Hutu rebel force based in eastern Congo said on Tuesday they had started laying down their arms and were ready for talks with Kigali, but U.N. peacekeepers said they had seen no signs of disarmament.

The claims by the FDLR rebel group came as U.N. forces in Democratic Republic of Congo prepared to target the insurgents in coming months after a successful campaign alongside Congolese government troops against local Tutsi-led rebels last year. Rwanda has repeatedly rejected calls for talks with the rebels.

The Rwandan rebels have been at the heart of two decades of conflict in eastern Congo since Rwanda's genocide. Their presence there has often been cited by Kigali as justification for sending its troops across the border.

While their numbers have dwindled to a few thousand in recent years, previous peace initiatives have floundered and they are seen as an obstacle to peace in the mineral-rich zone.

General Victor Byiringiro, the FDLR's interim leader also known as Gaston Iyamuremye, told French radio RFI this week that his men had started disarming but that they wanted African leaders to support talks with the government in Kigali.

“We can confirm our president's statement and we are carrying it (disarmament) out now,” Colonel Wilson Irategeka, the FDLR's interim executive secretary, told Reuters on Tuesday.

“The international community must now help us to make Kigali ... accept negotiations with opposition political parties, including the FDLR,” he added.

“Nothing new”

However, a spokesman for the 21,000-strong U.N. peacekeeping mission in Congo, known as MONUSCO, said the rebels had in the past promised to disarm without doing so and that there was no evidence of it taking place this time.

“We are monitoring the situation of course, but to us this is nothing new,” the spokesman said.

The FDLR was officially set up in 2000 by mainly Hutu Rwandan gunmen operating in eastern Congo, where the remnants of the extremist Hutu militia fled after they were defeated by the Tutsi-led army that ended Rwanda's genocide.

Kigali has previously refused talks with the rebels, accusing them of still wanting to exterminate Tutsis.

But the rebels, and some analysts, say most FDLR fighters played no role in the slaughter of some 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus in 1994.

Brigadier General Joseph Nzabamwita, spokesman for Rwanda's army, did not comment on claims the FDLR had started to disarm, saying only: “MONUSCO and Congo have a long overdue obligation to militarily eradicate FDLR genocide criminals from Congo.”

Following the genocide, Rwanda sent its army into Congo, where millions of people have died in a series of conflicts that saw neighbors back local rebel forces in clashes over power, mineral riches and ethnic tensions.

Congo and U.N. experts accused Rwanda of backing the Tutsi-led M23 rebels that were defeated late last year. Kigali denies this and has accused Kinshasa of collaborating with the FDLR.

Underscoring regional tensions over the armed groups, Tanzania called on Rwanda to hold talks with its rebels, an appeal that was angrily rejected by Kigali.

You May Like

Multimedia US Defense Secretary: Iraqi Forces Lack 'Will to Fight'

Ash Carter criticizes Iraq's reaction to Islamic State; National Security Advisor Susan Rice echoed Carter's concerns in an interview on CBS More

Boko Haram Surrounds Havens With Land Mines

Chad and Cameroon say huge numbers of land mines planted by Boko Haram fighters along Cameroon's border with Nigeria are a danger to people, livestock and soldiers More

Women Activists for Peace Cross Korean DMZ

Governments of Koreas give international delegation of women peace activists permission to pass through heavily fortified boarder, but some critics say symbolic crossing only benefits Pyongyang More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs