Bosco Ntaganda’s rebellion of ex-CNDP loyalists from the Congolese national army, or FARDC, has increased instability across the Kivus. One rebel group that is taking advantage of the security void left as the FARDC focuses on putting down the ex-CNDP rebellion is the notorious Rwandan Hutu-linked FDLR.
Only one week into the mutiny, many locations in the province of South Kivu became theatres of increased rebel attacks. Several FARDC positions saw reduced numbers as soldiers were redeployed to combat the mutiny or deserted their posts as part of it, leaving the FDLR and other groups with a prime opportunity to make gains.
For instance, on the night of May 7, the FDLR along with a local armed militia called Mayi-Mayi Kirikicho attacked the FARDC position at Lumbishi, four kilometers north of the Numbi mining area, in the Kalehe territory. The attack resulted in the death of an FARDC solider, and at least one FARDC and three FDLR soldiers were wounded. Similar attacks by the FDLR have taken place in Bunyakiri and Ramba in the territory of Kalehe where innocent civilians were reportedly killed.
In addition, on the night of May 4, five women were abducted by the FDLR operating jointly with the local armed militia Nyatura in Mutatira village in the Kalehe territory. The victims were taken deep into forested areas near Sinkutu. They are still missing. The FDLR has also been able to retake a former stronghold in Irhegabarhonyi in the Kabare territory from where they had previously been pushed out into the Mugaba forest.
These incidents are notable examples of how the security situation in South Kivu has deteriorated as a result of the rebellion.
There is a clear need for action by a number of stakeholders in order to return to relative stability in this region. The Congolese government should make every effort to provide the FARDC soldiers with the necessary means to defeat the ex-CNDP rebellion and arrest Bosco Ntaganda, along with his senior commanders who deserted FARDC posts, and deliver them to justice. The FARDC should also quickly deploy more troops to the areas where defections took place in order to prevent the FDLR and other local armed groups from preying on local communities while security is precarious and unpredictable.
The international community should work with MONUSCO to deliver useful support to the FARDC to focus on effectively protecting populations caught up in fights between Ntaganda’s men, the FDLR, and the FARDC. The international community must pressure neighboring countries, especially Rwanda, not to provide support to Ntaganda or his rebellion and to work constructively with regional and international partners to seek a peaceful and durable solution to the recent unrest.
Photo: A Congolese soldier in eastern Congo (AP)