KINSHASA | Congolese government has asked UN peacekeeping mission in the country for help against Rwandan rebels planning operations against Rwanda from inside Congolese territory, the UN said on Wednesday.
Leila Zerrougui, chief of the UN mission in DR Congo, better known by its acronym as Monusco, said Kinshasa asked in a letter for peacekeepers to “thwart” FDLR Hutu rebels who were mustering in an eastern province near Rwanda’s border.
FDLR, which comprises mainly remnants of Interahamwe militia that was largely to responsible for 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, have in the past carried out cross-border attacks on Rwandan forces from their bases in DR Congo.
The genocidaires fled into the jungles of the vast central African country from where they regrouped and have continued to launch sporadic attacks on Rwanda and retreating into DR Congo.
Rwanda has always tried to crush the rebels but fear of sanctions means they cannot make an incursion into the territories of their neighbouring state.
In his letter DR Congo Defence Minister Crispin Atama Thabe said rebel brigades had moved from North Kivu into South Kivu province where they would be able to join a rebel commander planning operations in Rwanda.
“DR Congo cannot accept being used as a rear base for a foreign rebel movement against one of its neighbours,” the minister said in the letter, which was shared on social media and with the local press.
The minister did not give details about the kind of help the government wanted UN peacekeepers to provide.
Zerrougui said the UN peacekeeping mission praised Kinshasa’s cooperation and had notified the Rwandan authorities.
For years, the Congolese government under former President Joseph Kabila had frosty relations with Rwanda, but n 2015, Kabila reached out to his Rwandan counterpart Paul Kagame leading to patching up of relations.
Last week, Kabila handed over power to Felix Tshisekedi, who is understood will continue some policies of the outgoing government, including the fostered relations with Rwanda.
The DR Congo’s government said Monday it had extradited two FDLR rebel commanders to Rwanda as part of a legal agreement.
One of the two men extradited was Bazeye Fils La Forge, an FDLR spokesman who was captured by Congolese forces in November.