A Democratic Republic of Congo cabinet minister has warned armed groups of stiff punishment if they join forces with the rebel Democratic Liberation Forces of Rwanda (FDRL) to fight government against troops.
Information minister Lambert Mende said former rebels who join the FDLR to destabilize the country undermine the deal that shields them from criminal prosecution.
“Those people who enjoyed the amnesty must be careful because the law of amnesty says that whoever will go with those terrorist will destroy all judicial effects of the amnesty. We will arrest them and bring them to jail again,” he said.
Congo media reported that disgruntled former combatants are leaving the army and joining the FDLR rebel group to fight the government.
But Mende said the government has resolved the causes that led to the rebel insurgencies.
“What we know is that many people are talking of making war while they don’t have any means of making war because we know from where they were getting means and we have solved the problems of the origin of the means of making war in Congo against Congo,” Mende said.
The FDLR is reportedly made up of Rwandan Hutus, some of whom allegedly took part in the 1994 Rwandan genocide in which tens of thousands of Rwandans were killed.
Analysts say the FDLR has been based in eastern Congo for many years, fighting alongside the former Congolese government in its battle to stave off the largest Congolese rebel movement at the time – RCD-Goma (Rally for Congolese Democracy).
But according to recent reports from the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the FDLR has been attacking villages in North Kivu, committing rape and other human rights abuses forcing about 400 000 people from their homes.
Mende said the government will prevent future FDRL attacks.
“People are witnessing efforts from our army to destroy the FDLR and indeed FDLR is being destroyed. I think that they are going to the wrong place because those people (FDLR) are going to disappear. Many of them are being killed,” Mende said.