Democratic Republic of Congo’s government has asked its UN peacekeeping mission for help against Rwandan rebels planning operations against Rwanda from inside Congolese territory, the UN said on Wednesday.
Leila Zerrougui, chief of the UN mission known as MONUSCO, said Kinshasa asked in a letter for peacekeepers to “thwart” FDLR Hutu rebels who were mustering in an eastern province near Rwanda’s border.
The Democratic Liberation Forces of Rwanda (FDLR) have in the past carried out cross-border attacks on Rwandan forces from rear bases in the DRC.
In his letter DRC Defence Minister Crispin Atama Thabe said rebel brigades had moved from North Kivu into South Kivu province where they would be able to join a rebel commander planning operations in Rwanda.
DRC “cannot accept being used as a rear base for a foreign rebel movement against one of its neighbors,” the minister said in the letter, which was shared on social media and with the local press.
The minister did not give details about the kind of help the government wanted UN peacekeepers to provide.
Zerrougui said the UN peacekeeping mission praised Kinshasa’s cooperation and had notified the Rwandan authorities.
The DRC’s government said on Monday it had extradited two FDLR rebel commanders to Rwanda as part of a legal agreement.
One of the two men extradited was Bazeye Fils La Forge, an FDLR spokesperson.
The FDLR has been fighting in eastern DRC for decades.
The authorities in Rwanda say the group’s leaders took part in the 1994 Rwandan genocide in which some 800 000 people, mainly minority Tutsis, were slaughtered by the military and by Hutu militias.