The UN is asking countries in the Great Lakes Region to push for the quick elimination of rebels in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo before they join the political battles in the country.
Security experts in the region say that the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), which is opposed to the government of Uganda, is now recruiting young fighters in mosques.
Initially, ADF comprised Ugandans and Congolese rebels but recent arrests have revealed that there are recruits from other neighbouring countries. The disarmament of the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) is being slowed down by claims among the rebel ranks that those who have laid down their arms are in danger in Rwanda.
Some of the commanders of the M23 group that was defeated in 2014 are said to have gone back to the bush. The United Nations Special Envoy for the Great Lakes Region, Said Djinnit, said that there are concerns that the current tensions in Kinshasa over President Joseph Kabila’s third term bid could escalate in the periphery, especially in eastern DRC.
Mr Djinnit said although FDLR has carried out some incursions into Rwandan territory in the recent past, it does not constitute a serious military threat.
“But for the Rwanda government, the very existence of FDLR means that those who planned the 1994 genocide are still out there and have a political platform,” said Mr Djinnit.
He dismissed claims that FDLR fighters who have surrendered are in danger, saying he visited Mutobo camp — where they were being rehabilitated — and found it empty. He noted that most of them have been reintegrated into the community or have gone back to their villages.
Mr Djinnit is, however, concerned that while the youthful new generation in FDLR did not commit genocide, they are being indoctrinated with the culture of hate and revenge.