Info ou intox: d'anciens rebelles burundais rejoignent les FDLR
Kigali: Faced with unemployment and no money to survive after they are demobilized by the Burundian government, former rebels are being lured into the ranks of Rwandan FDLR rebels with diamonds, gold and ‘a job fighting for the last bastion of militant Hutuism in Congo’, UN officials say.
The latest development comes after contrary reports surfaced last week suggesting that some FDLR rebels have been entering Burundi – fleeing war. The Burundian Defense Minister Lt. General Germain Niyoyankana told a press conference on Thursday that some few FDLR elements were in the country, but that they will be arrested.
Burundi is also ready to take part in any future operations against the FDLR rebels should it be asked, according to the Minister.
Each month, however, about 40 new Burundian recruits arrive in Luberizi, a sleepy, palm-strewn town just across the Burundi border in Congo, said Safari Ndabachekure, the local FDLR recruiter. Many of the Burundian rebels live under the nose of a Congolese Army base nearby, the Times reported Friday.
While the two sides are formally at war, politics seem to disappear in Luberizi. Government officials and militia members live side by side in poverty, passing and greeting one another when they are not in the mountains, where the bulk of fighting goes on.
One of the Burundian former combatants calling himself Private Mungu, 28, says he was a member of the former FNL-Palipehutu rebel force which fought its way to a power-sharing deal with government in December. He says the deal granted the FNL members cabinet posts and a slice of the country’s security apparatus.
However, Private Mungu and the others say most of the jobs went to the top rebel officers, leaving more than 10,000 — from soldiers to schoolteachers — out in the cold.
The most fortunate of these received less than $100 in disarmament packages; many, like Private Mungu, say they got nothing. Some have been hired to bolster shaky political parties, and according to a June report by Human Rights Watch, several former fighters have died doing it. Congo has been another option.
Burundian militiamen have been swept into Congo’s battles before. According to United Nations agencies and human rights groups, Burundians were being lured by similar means to Laurent Nkunda, a renegade general who wreaked havoc in eastern Congo until he was seized in January. Before that, Burundians fought for another Congolese militia, the Mai Mai. As Burundi’s war has wound down, many of the former rebel soldiers have been willing to kill for whoever pays them, regardless of ethnic allegiances.
“In Burundi, the good life is only for the big person,” said Mr. Safari, the recruiter, who arrived in Congo two years ago. Now he helps orchestrate a circuit through which new arrivals receive temporary shelter, financial assistance and a free weapon.
“The first purpose is to promote the Hutu persons,” he said. “The second is to look for money.”