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FDLR behind Tuesday’s Grenade Attack in Kigali?

On Tuesday, 4 January, grenade attacks rocked Remera, Kigali at approximately 640pm in the evening. Two died, at least 18 people required hospitalisation to treat their wounds. Graham Holliday of Reuters tweeted that he saw people missing limbs when he visited the hospital (his report here), but none of that news has been reported by the Rwanda authorities. Follow him at @noodlepie. A doctor treating some of the victims estimated at least 32 injury cases.

The statement of the Rwandan police firmly states that those individuals behind the blast will be brought to book. Grenade attacks were common in the run up to the 2010 presidential elections. These blasts are the first we’ve heard of in eighteen months (the last being in July 2010, in western Rwanda, not in Kigali).

According to the BBC’s report on the blasts, Rwandan security forces believe the Kivu-based FDLR rebel group is responsible for the attacks.

Yet, the evidence from the ground does not directly point to the FDLR as security forces claim. The target of vegetable sellers in Remera, on the opposite side of Kigali from the Presidential Palace, and the homes of senior members of the government in Kivoyu, does not match up. True, Remera is not far from the Ministry of Justice and the Parliament, but the target was ordinary Rwandans at they shopped for their evening’s dinner on the way home from work, not government installations. Surely the FDLR leadership would target a more impactful location for the blasts if he had the intention of destabilising the government? As Kigaliwire reported, ‘Nyabisindu [in Remera sector] is like many non-descript, dirt track areas of Kigali. The kind of place where local folk sell fruit and vegetables in front of shops and houses and workers sit outside for a Primus or a Fanta in the evening’.

If is is the FDLR, why did Rwandan security forces round up vegetable sellers and beat them for information on who planted the blasts. If the government knows it is FDLR, then why target sellers? Perhaps because it thinks that vegetable sellers in Remera are collaborating with the FDLR?

That makes little sense. If Rwanda is as peaceful and secure as the government claims, how could FDLR operatives make it all the way to Kigali, while winning over the hearts and minds of ordinary Rwandans selling their wares at market.

I don’t know who is behind Tuesday’s grenade attacks. I hope that a blind insistence on the culpability of the FDLR does not blind analysts and security forces to the possibility of other actors carrying out the deed. Whoever is behind the blasts, the effect at the local level is likely the same: striking fear into residents of Kigali.

In their interim report published on June 7, 2011 and presented in front of the United Nations Sanctions Committee, the UN Panel of experts on the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) have rejected Rwandan Government’s allegations accusing two exiled Tutsi military leaders General Kayumba Nyamwasa and Colonel Karegeya of collaboarating with the Hutu rebel groups of Democratic Liberation Forces of Rwanda (FDLR) and Rally for Unity and Democracy (RUD-Urunana).

“The Group would like to clarify that, contrary to reports in the Rwandan press, the Group’s final report in November 2010 did not document any substantial links with, or material support to, FDLR by the Rwandan dissidents Colonel Patrick Karegeya and Lieutenant General Faustin Kayumba Nyamwasa, aside from a potential emissary who may have visited armed groups in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo in February 2010, ” the UN experts said.

On January 21, 2011, during a summit of the Economic Community of the Great Lakes Countries (Communauté économique des pays des Grands Lacs, CEPGL) in Kigali, Rwandan Government officials had alleged that “an alliance between armed groups operating in Rutshuru, with the alleged support of Rwandan dissidents Lieutenant General Faustin Kayumba Nyamwasa and Colonel Patrick Karegeya, had the potential to destabilize the whole region”

The UN Experts added that RUD Urunana leaders denied any collaboration between RUD-Urunana and FDLR or RUD-Urunana and Rwandan National Congress (RNC), a political organization linked to the two exiled Tutsi high ranking officers. RUD-Urunana and another Rwandan Tutsi rebel group, the Rally for the Rwandan People (RPR) form the National Democartic Congress (NDC).

The experts said: “At the outset of its mandate, the Group met with the Secretary-General of RUD, Félicien Kanyamibwa, and its spokesperson Augustin Dakuze, who sought to respond to the Group’s final report of 2010 (S/2010/596). They denied any responsibility for events ending the Kasiki demobilization process in February 2009, instead blaming its failure on alleged attacks by Rwandan forces, the outcome of a visit to assess conditions in Rwanda in January 2009 and the rapprochement between the Governments of Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. They also disavowed political connections with FDLR or the Rwandan National Congress.” (see also AfroAmerica Network article: UN Security Council Meet Rwandan Opposition Leaders of February 9, 2011)

However, the UN Experts confirmed that Tribert Rujugiro, a Rwandan Tutsi magnate and a personnal advisor to the Rwandan dictator General Paul Kagame was funding the Congolese rebels of the CNDP. According to the UN Experts: “the Group gathered testimony from numerous CNDP officers that Mr. Rujugiro provided support to their movement. These allegations were confirmed by at least three independent sources.“ The UN Experts also confirmed that Tribert Rujugiro is a Congolese, not a Rwandan because ”in contrast, the documents annexed as “Exhibit L”, pertaining to the lands owned and acquired by Mr. Rujugiro, all indicate that Mr. Rujugiro was born on 4 August 1941 in the locality of Jomba, which is in Rutshuru Territory, North Kivu Province, and that he has Congolese nationality. These documents are duly dated and signed.”

A final report from the UN Group of Experts will be issued in November 2011.

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