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

Video On the Scene: In Gaza, Darkness Brings Dread and Death

Palestinians fear nighttime raids, many feel abandoned by outside world, VOA's Scott Bobb reports More

African Small Farmers Could Be Key to Ending Food Insecurity

Experts say providing access to microloans, crop insurance, better storage facilities, irrigation, road systems and market information could enable greater production More

University of Michigan Wins Solar Car Race

Squad guided its student-designed solar-powered vehicle to fifth consecutive time victory in eight-day bi-annual American Solar Challenge More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spati
X
Reasey Poch
July 28, 2014 7:18 PM
China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video ESA Spacecraft to Land on a Comet

After a long flight through deep space, a European Space Agency probe is finally approaching its target -- a comet millions of kilometers away from earth. Scientists say the mission may lead to some startling discoveries about the origins of the water on earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Africans Arrive in US for Leadership Program

President Barack Obama's Young African Leadership Initiative has brought hundreds of young Africans to the United States for a six-week program aimed at building their knowledge and skills in fields such as public administration and business. Out of the 50,000 young Africans who applied for the program, just one percent was accepted. VOA's Laurel Bowman caught up with some of those who made the cut and has this report.
Video

Video In Honduras, Amnesty Rumors Fuel US Migration Surges

False rumors in Central America are fueling the current surge of undocumented young people being apprehended at the U.S. border. The inaccurate claims suggest the U.S. will give amnesty to young migrants from the region. As VOA's Brian Padden reports from Honduras, these rumors trace back to President Obama's 2012 executive order to halt deportations for some young undocumented immigrants already living in the United States.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
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.

AppleAndroid