On the 26th of June, the Rwandan rebels of the FDLR sent a delegation to Rome to engage in further negotiations regarding the disarmament process initiated by the rebel group a few months ago. Several important personalities attended the meeting. Rwanda, however, did not appreciate the initiative.
The meeting was held at the invitation of Saint’ Egidio, a religious community that already served as an intermediary for the FDLR in 2005. The negotiations also involved UN representatives in the sub-region, namely the head of MONUSCO, Martin Kobler and Mary Robinson, special Envoy of the UN Secretary General for the Great Lakes, and Frank De Coninck, Belgium envoy for the region. The disarmament of the FDLR is criticized by Kigali. The current Rwandan government has refused any communication with those they describe as genocidaires. The new unarmed movement of the FDLR, however, insists on having negotiations as, from now on, it only wants to engage itself politically.
The event was facilitated by Herve Ladsous, the UN UnderSecretary General responsible for the operations of peacekeeping. Earlier, Ladsous had demanded a temporary lift of the travel ban of Acting President of the FDLR, Victor Byiringiro, in order for him to attend the meeting in Rome. Byiringiro was under UN sanctions since 2010 as head of an armed group accused of destabilizing Eastern DRC. Ladsous’ request was rejected and the UN Sanctions Committee upheld its decision following Rwanda’s protests.
In the process of these negotiations, each represented actor will naturally have to defend his interests. The objective of the FDLR is to seek international support for inter-Rwandan dialogue, including all opposition parties and refugees scattered around the world; while the United Nations seeks to accelerate the disarmament of the FDLR which has not made much progress – so far only 188 rebels have surrendered their weapons.
It is in this context that the RPF regime, that incessantly fights the political inclusion of its opponents, sent a letter of protest to the UN Security Council on the 26th of June. In its writing, the regime threatened to withdraw from the Addis Ababa framework agreement which, was signed by eleven regional countries on the 24th of February 2013. Falling under the auspices of the African Union and the UN, the framework agreement provides for peacemaking in Eastern Congo. The Rwandan government has accused senior UN officials of wanting to rehabilitate the FDLR, a group they still associate with the 1994 genocide and to whom Kigali has categorically refused to talk. Moreover, those who support this dialogue are now treated as FDLR’s allies by Kigali.
Translated by Jane Nishimwe