Painting by Cheri Samba

Lokuta eyaka na ascenseur, kasi vérité eyei na escalier mpe ekomi. Lies come up in the elevator; the truth takes the stairs but gets here eventually. - Koffi Olomide

Ésthetique eboma vélo. Aesthetics will kill a bicycle. - Felix Wazekwa

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

A new FDLR leadership?

It appears that the FDLR are beginning to re-organize after the end of Kimia II operations. For several days now, meeting have been held in southern Masisi territory to determine how they should restructure their leadership after the arrest of Ignace Murwanashyaka and Straton Musoni, their president and vice-president, in Germany last year. It appears that General Gaston Iyamuremye (aka Rumuli Michel) may temporarily take the helm. Until recently, Rumuli was the main representative of the civilian leadership in the field and a quasi minister of defense. He led an office that was staffed by civilian advisers and tasked with developing military and political strategy. He is known to be a relative hardliner, although he has previously engaged in talks with MONUC on behalf of the FDLR, notably in 2008, when he met with MONUC representatives in Nyabiondo (Masisi) and promised to send a battalion of FDLR troops into demobilization as a goodwill gesture. Nothing ever came of this, and some speculated that the military commander, General Mudacumura, had countermanded his order.

Rumuli Michel is around 60 years old and is from the northern province of Ruhengeri. He was trained in Rwanda and Belgium and was leading a battalion that was in charge of logistics and military equipment in Kigali at the time of the genocide; his involvement in the massacres has not been established, but some members of the Rwandan security service have suggested that they view him as complicit.

His nomination may only be temporary as they look for someone more suitable. However, if it does become permanent, it will represent a serious shift of their public image from Ignace Murwanashyaka - who was a civilian based in Germany and was not present in Rwanda at the time of the genocide - to a military commander in the field. In that sense, it could represent a radicalization of their approach (although it seems difficult to become more radical than they are already) and a closing of the ranks. Callixte Mbarushimana, the executive secretary of the FDLR based in Paris, has apparently backed this temporary nomination and is still signing press releases from Paris. A president based in the field may also take the pressure off him, as both the BBC and the Associated Press have recently run long stories on his involvement in the FDLR and the 1994 genocide.

In the meantime, local press reports that the FDLR have retaken some of the positions they were forced out of during Kimia II operations.


Unknown said...

there may be an even worse scenario: FDLR breaking into a multitude of uncontrolled and vicious groups.
And my question still is: what did Kimia I and II accomplish in the DRC? What will Amani Leo bring, that Kimia I & and II did not? Why do we continue to chase the wind, when we can stand on solid ground?
Credible experts of the region, including you Jason, know the root of the problem: the political situation in Rwanda, i.e, the repressive regime in Kigali.
Most experts preferred to look away. For some: no FDLR no job. For others: they have a stake in the chaos. Still for others: they have hard time recognizing the mistakes they have been making since 1994.
At the end of the day my proposition for a less costly, humane, and pragmatic solution remains:
1) Identify the moderates among the Hutu rebels leaders
2) Put pressure on Kagame to sit with the rebels leaders and find a negotiated solution
3) Put due pressure on the DRC government to accept the resettlement of those unwilling to go back home to Rwanda.

Let us echo what NATO top commander in Afganistan, Gen Stanley McChrystal, recently said: there had been "enough fighting... a political solution in all conflicts is inevitable".


K said...


Why should there be any pressure on the DRC government to accept the resettlement of those members of FDLR that do not want to go back to Rwanda? These people are Rwandese citizens after all. That does not make any sense. Why not ask Europe or the US to take them.

Unknown said...

You are making a good point here. However, let us be realistic. Estimates put the Rwandan rebels, their dependents and other Rwandan refugees in Eastern DRC to around 20 - 30 thousand. Some have established close ties with Congolese through marriages. I would practically think that a resettlement in the DRC would make more sense.
Apart from that, the agreement signed between the DRC government and the leaders of RUD-Urunana in Rome on January 27, 2009 with the facilitation of Sant'Egidio and Norway contains that provision. This provision could also be extended to FDLR. Now, I do not know why the agreement was not executed, and instead the FARDC and the Rwandan troops preferred to attack the Kasiki refugee camp, where Rwandan refugees awaited for that agreement to be executed. That is why pressure on the DRC government is warranted. Anyway, war has failed and the DRC government officials I talk to agree, despite the hypocritical boasting in the media.

K said...

There is already enough tension in the Congo due to the presence of the 'Rwandophones'. Why would any one want to aggravate it by integrating more refugees.

The probleme of land shortages in the Kivus is not the major issue. The fact that most Congolese resent their presence on Congolese soil since the 1998 war is the real issue. So a resettlement outside the Kivus is problematic.

Why would Congolese want to take in people that have been responsible for so much suffering of their own brothers. Don't you think that you are asking a little bit too much.

If we are to continue with your thinking, why not suggest that Rwanda and Burundi just take in and resettle all the Banyamulenge present on their territories? In that case we might bring an end to the CNDP wars.

The only way to bring an end to the tragedy in Eastern Congo is to put enough pressure on the Rwandese government, as well as the elites on both sides to end the cycle of exclusion and ethnic domination that fuels these wars.

Unknown said...

The tribal and ethnic tensions in Eastern DRC are mostly between Tutsis and other tribes. I myself was initially confused when Congolese mentioned their revulsion of "Banyarwanda", while living harmoniously with Hutu refugees. Later I learned they simply meant "Those in power in Rwanda," i.e, Tutsis. I spoke with traditional leaders from other ethnic groups, especially Nande, Nyanga, Hunde, Kisi, Lega, Bavira, Bashi. The answers were consistent. They have no problem with Rwandan Hutu refugees. They clearly said they have problem with Rwandans in power in Rwanda and their proxies in the DRC. There is over $1 million Congolese Hutu in Rutshuru and Masisi area who speak the Rwandan language; "Rwandophones" is not the issue . Remember that PARECO was formed by Hutu Rwandophones and Nande. APLCS is formed by Hutu Rwandophones, Nyanga, Ntembo, Hunde and Kisi. Even, Masunzu, a Tutsi Munyamurenge prefers working with Hutu refugees than the Tutsis in power in Rwanda. Only the troops of Nkunda from Jomba, Ntaganda from Masisi and Mutebusi are viewed as the problematic "Rwandaphones", because they are proxies of the Tutsis in power in Rwanda.
There is also a misinformation regarding "responsibility for so much suffering of their own brothers". The majority of FDLR ranks were less than 10 years old in 1994. A large number of Hutu refugees were born in Congo. We cannot punish people for crimes they did not commit. It is not how democratic societies function. I agree with you on this: Kagame and his regime is the root of the problem and that is where the solution must begin.

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