Deadline for rebels in east DRC to surrender expires
A deadline for the Rwandan rebels that have wrought havoc in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo for two decades to surrender ran out Friday with many of the fighters still at large.
Kinshasa: A deadline for the Rwandan rebels that have wrought havoc in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo for two decades to surrender ran out Friday with many of the fighters still at large.
The head of the UN mission in DRC, MONUSCO, appealed to the rebels from the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) to seize the chance for peace.
"To all #FDLR, you can help stabilize your area by reaching MONUSCO or the Congolese authorities and return to peaceful life in #Rwanda," Martin Kobler wrote in a Twitter message.
The FDLR is thought to include between 1,500 and 2,000 ethnic Hutu fighters, some of whom are accused of having participated in the 1994 Rwandan genocide.
Opposed to Rwandan President Paul Kagame`s Tutsi government, they have for years been based across the border in eastern DRC, where they have been accused of staging brutal attacks on civilians, including rapes and murders, and smuggling resources, such as gold and charcoal.
The international community issued them with an ultimatum in mid-2014 to turn themselves in by January 2 or face action by the Congolese Army and UN forces.
In a statement on Friday the envoys to DRC of the UN, African Union, European Union, United States and former colonial power Belgium noted "that the FDLR has not met this deadline."Accusing the rebels of using the six-month grace period to commit further human rights abuses the envoys said the FDLR had left the region and international community "with no other option than to pursue the military option against those within the armed group that are unwilling to voluntarily disarm."
The FDLR announced in December 2013 that it was laying down arms to focus on the "political struggle" in Rwanda.
Nearly 350 rebels have surrendered to authorities in the North Kivu and South Kivu provinces of DRC since May 2013 but the rest are still at large.
Writing on Twitter on Friday a spokesman for Rwanda`s national army, General Joseph Nzabamwita, called for "military action" against the FDLR.
A spokesman for the rebels, La Forge Fils Bazeye, on Tuesday accused of blocking their return to their homeland.
"If it (Rwanda) opens the political space, we`ll go home and that will be it," he said, promising the rebels would offer no resistance if attacked by Congolese or UN forces and would continue to disarm.