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

Reports of Mass Murder on Mediterranean Smuggler’s Boat

Boat sailed from Libya with 750 migrants aboard and arrived in Italy with 569 More

Video New Thailand Hotline Targets Misbehaving Monks

Officials say move aims to restore country’s image of Buddhism, tarnished by recent high profile scandals such as opulent lifestyle, drug and alcohol abuse, as well as child sex abuse More

Study: Dust from Sahara Helped Form Bahama Islands

What does the Sahara have in common with a Caribbean island? Quite a lot, researchers say More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Astronauts Train in Underwater Labi
X
George Putic
July 25, 2014 7:25 PM
In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Not Even Monks Spared From Thailand’s Junta-Backed Morality Push

With Thailand’s military government firmly in control after May’s bloodless coup, authorities are carrying out plans they say are aimed at restoring discipline, morality and patriotism to all Thais. The measures include a crackdown on illegal gambling, education reforms to promote students’ moral development, and a new 24-hour phone hotline for citizens to report misbehaving monks. Steve Sandford reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Virtual Program Teaches Farming Skills

In a fast-changing world beset by unpredictable climate conditions, farmers cannot afford to ignore new technology. Researchers in Australia are developing an online virtual world program to share information about climate change and more sustainable farming techniques for sugar cane growers. As VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports, the idea is to create a wider support network for farmers.
Video

Video Airline Expert: Missile will Show Signature on Debris

The debris field from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is spread over a 21-kilometer radius in eastern Ukraine. It is expected to take investigators months to sort through the airplane pieces to learn about the missile that brought down the jetliner and who fired it. VOAs Carolyn Presutti explains how this work will be done.
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

AppleAndroid