Beware the danger of Rwandan rebels in DRC — envoy

Sunday March 31 2019

A UN soldier guards Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo. PHOTO | AFP


A group of Rwandan rebels could pull the Democratic Republic of Congo into yet another armed conflict, the DRC’s United Nations ambassador has told the UN Security Council.

Ignace Gata Mavita wa Lufuta told a Council session reviewing the status of the Great Lakes region that P5, a coalition of Rwandan opposition groups led by exiled general Kayumba Nyamwasa, receives weapons and ammunition from “a neighbouring country.”

While the envoy did not name the country in question, he called attention to a recent report by a UN Panel of Experts that cites Burundi as the source of those supplies.

Such shipments would violate a UN arms embargo that applies to all groups in the DRC except government forces and the UN’s peacekeeping force — Monusco.

The panel attributes the Burundi-P5 weapons connection to several former P5 combatants whom it interviewed.

Tanzania and South Africa, as well as Burundi, are also sources of recruits for P5, the ex-combatants told UN experts.


The panel asked for clarification from the Burundi government on these matters but received no reply to its request, the report states.

But the P5 has never staged attacks on Rwandan territory, the former fighters told the UN group, instead they “attacked what they thought were Burundian rebel groups active within the Congolese territory.”

The eastern DRC, the region where P5 operates, is already the scene of multiple armed conflicts involving scores of militias.

Said Djinnit, UN Special envoy for the Great Lakes Region, described these armed units as “negative forces” in his presentation to the Security Council, saying their presence in eastern DRC “perpetuates insecurity and mistrust between some countries.”

But he gave a generally upbeat assessment of the peace and security situation in the Great Lakes region in what served as a farewell address.

Mr Djinnit, an Algerian diplomat, is stepping down this month after more than four years in the Great Lakes posting. Noting “important steps towards durable peace and stability” during the past two decades, he said the Great Lakes region is now “largely peaceful.”