United Nations, Jan 9 (IANS) The UN Security Council (UNSC) Thursday voiced support for joint military action by the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and the UN against the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) rebels.
The UNSC noted in a presidential statement that the FDLR “has not only failed to unconditionally and fully surrender and demobilise, but has also continued to recruit new fighters in their ranks”, according to a Xinhua report.
The UNSC stressed that about 300 FDLR members who have surrendered, consisting of non-essential fighters, do not meet the condition of full demobilisation of the armed group.
As the primary remnant Rwandan Hutu rebel group fighting in the eastern part of the DRC, the FDLR is recognised by the UNSC as a group whose leaders and members were among the perpetrators of the 1994 genocide in Rwanda.
The deadline for the FDLR to disarm voluntarily or face military action, set by the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR), expired Jan 2, 2015.
Thursday’s statement by the UNSC reiterated the need for the DRC, together with the United Nations Organisation Stabilisation Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo to neutralise the FDLR “by commencing military operations immediately”.
Calling on the DRC authorities to swiftly approve such joint action, the UNSC reiterated its readiness to consider targeted sanctions against any individual or entity found to be supporting the FDLR.
“The (UN) Security Council further recalls that the swift neutralisation of the FDLR is a top priority in bringing stability to and protecting the civilians of the DRC and the Great Lakes region, in line with the wider commitments made in the Peace, Security and Cooperation (PSC) Framework for the DRC and the region,” the statement said.
It also emphasised the importance of addressing the root causes of the conflict in eastern DRC and on the need for a comprehensive approach to restore peace and stability in the affected areas.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon Wednesday, spoke to the DRC President Joseph Kabila over phone, urging decisive action against the FDLR.
A joint summit of the heads of state and government of the SADC and the ICGLR will take place Jan 15-16 in Luanda, Angola to review the situation related to the voluntary disarmament of the FDLR and to decide on the appropriate action to be taken following the expiry of the deadline that had been set.