Sources in Kinshasa have given more details to AfroAmerica Network regarding the ongoing negotiations between the Congolese Government and the Rwandan rebels of the Democratic Liberation Forces of Rwanda (FDLR) (see our March 31, 2011 article: Rwandan Government Contradictions as DRC Government Negotiations with FDLR).
MONUSCO sources were the first to inform AfroAmerica Network that the military leaders of FDLR had been recently engaged in negotiations with the government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). According to the same sources, the advanced negotiations provide for the relocation of FDLR headquarters from the Walikale-Masisi area to the Maniema province in exchange for cash and other material advantages. In all, close to 1,500 FDLR troops were schedule to be relocated in phase I. DRC President Joseph Kabila was so confident that he announced the ongoing negotiations in his cabinet meeting on March 14, 2011.
The sources in Kinshasa told AfroAmerica Network that the negotiations were led by the current President of FDLR, General Gaston Iyamuremye aka Rumuri. On the government side, President Kabila sent his personal envoy, the Belgian Jean Pierre Breyne, accompanied with Msgr Kuye Ndondo, and Father Minani. The meeting was held in Ntoto in Walikale area.
The DRC Government official version of the negotiations is:
- to bring peace in Eastern Kivu before the November 2011 presidential elections
- to resume the failed Rome Accord between the DRC Government and FDLR in 2005 and DRC Government and RUD-Urunana in 2008-2009. The accords provided for a resettlement within DRC or voluntary repatriation
The DRC government offered or required the following:
- relocating FDLR troops to Maniema province
- stopping attacks on FDLR during relocation
- immediate disarmament of at least 1,500 troops to be followed by the disarmament of 4,500 more once the first group reaches Maniema.
The FDLR have put forward the following conditions:
- DRC government must pay the FDLR between US$ 250,000 and $1 million promised during the 2005 Rome Accord
- DRC will convince the Rwandan Government to engage in direct negotiations between FDLR
- stop all attacks on FDLR
However, most of the sources remain skeptical about the process and its outcome. It is alleged that the initiative was pushed by Rwandan Government worried that FDLR is trying to link up with the dissidents General Kayumba Nyamwasa and Colonel Patrick Karegeya. To preempt the potential link, General Paul Kagame approached Joseph Kabila and convinced him to initiate the talks with FDLR so that the FDLR may be pushed back far from the Rwandan border, sent to remotes jungles on Maniema and disarmed. Once the FDLR are disarmed the Rwandan troops would then be able to attack and destroy them, or at least prevent them from allying themselves with Kayumba-Karegeya.
The FDLR also play the same game. First, only the political leadership led by Gaston Iyamuremye participated in the talks. High ranking FDLR-FOCA officers contacted by the sources seems to be unaware of the talks and its outcomes. Hence, disarmament of troops appear unlikely to succeed. General Gaston Iyamuremye’s delegation requested direct negotiations with the Rwandan Government, knowing that the Rwandan Government would certainly reject the proposition.
Meanwhile, the DRC Government has promised to pay US$ 250,000 and Jean Pierre Breyne has left Kinshasa for Kigali to try to convince the Rwandan Government to agree to the conditions if they want the FDLR destroyed.
©AfroAmerica Network, April 2011