DR Congo + 1 more

Rwanda-DRC: Kagame seeks co-operation on rebels

KIGALI, 7 May 2007 (IRIN) - Authorities in Kigali are keen to work with their counterparts in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) to solve the insurgency crisis that has persisted since 1994 rather than attempt to disarm the rebels themselves, even as the DRC army pursues a military operation to oust the Rwandan rebels.

The rebel Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda, known by its French acronym, FDLR, comprises the remnants of the former Rwandan army and ethnic Hutu militias blamed for the 1994 genocide. It has been active mostly in the North Kivu region of the DRC, where fighting with the DRC army in the first week of May left more than 40 rebels dead, according to the army.

"We are now discussing this problem with the Congolese authorities," said Rwandan President Paul Kagame last week when asked to comment on FDLR cross-border attacks in western Rwanda in March. "I plan to talk about that situation with my Congolese counterpart, [President] Joseph Kabila. I will soon get in contact with him and I hope that we can put an end to this situation of insurrection against Rwanda, which always comes from the DR Congo.

"I hope it will be an opportunity where we will find a lasting solution," he added.

Kagame, who had in the past threatened to send troops into the DRC to deal with the threat to national security posed by the rebels, said an incursion into the DRC was currently not necessary.

"This is not the only way we have to handle this problem of genocidal militias," said Kagame. "At the moment we seek other peaceful ways to solve the problem definitively. I know that the current Congolese authorities seek the possibility of making it possible to collaborate with us to find solutions to neutralise negative forces operating in this part of eastern DR Congo.

"The essential thing we have to consider is that all security conditions are guaranteed for Rwandan and Congolese people. We appreciate now the way the Congolese government wants to handle this situation. For the Rwandan government, it is a priority, because we must reassure ourselves that there is safety in the whole country and neighbouring countries," the Rwandan leader said.