Congo vows of­fen­sive to oust Hutu rebels

Lesotho Times - - Africa -

MWESO — The wob­bly white tarp tents once con­structed for peo­ple flee­ing a vi­o­lent Rwan­dan Hutu rebel group have grad­u­ally been re­placed by more solid huts of branches, ba­nana leaves and mud. Af­ter all, it’s been nine years now since the res­i­dents be­came refugees in their own coun­try.

“And all this time the rebels are still farm­ing the land in my vil­lage,” says Wi­tonze Nzam­bonipa, the camp’s elected chief.

But now Mr Nzam­bonipa and oth­ers in the camp have hope their sit­u­a­tion might im­prove, as the Con­golese mil­i­tary has vowed to oust the rebels known by their French acro­nym — FDLR — af­ter they failed to meet a 2 Jan­uary dead­line to dis­arm.

The mil­i­tary op­er­a­tion is sup­posed to be gain­ing ad­di­tional sup­port from the UN peace­keep­ers in eastern Congo who al­ready helped the be­lea­guered coun­try de­feat an­other group known as the M23.

The stakes are high in eastern Congo, a re­gion plagued by a myr­iad of armed rebels in the two decades since the Rwan­dan geno­cide. The FDLR in­cludes Rwan­dan Hu­tus who com­mit­ted the 1994 mas­sacres and who fled into Congo to es­cape pros­e­cu­tion.

The in­sta­bil­ity cre­ated by the FDLR rebels in eastern Congo has al­lowed other fighters to flour­ish as well.

“In many ways, the FDLR trig­gered the cy­cles of war that DRC (Congo) has ex­pe­ri­enced for two decades,” says Fidel Bafilemba, a re­searcher with the ad­vo­cacy group the Enough Project. “If th­ese op­er­a­tions man­age to re­ally deal with them, all the other armed groups will dis­ap­pear eas­ily.”

Yet days af­ter the United Na­tions wel­comed the of­fi­cial launch of the of­fen­sive, in­ter­nal dis­putes have kept the forces from kick­ing off a co­or­di­nated of­fen­sive. One of­fi­cial, who in­sisted on anonymity as he was not au­tho­rised to talk to jour­nal­ists, said the UN had ob­jected to the in­clu­sion of some Con­golese sol­diers in the mission. — AP

A screen­grab from a video on 9 Novem­ber 2014 shows Boko Haram fighters parad­ing on a tank in an uniden­ti­fied town.

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