â€˜FDLR has 5,000 combatants in four DR Congo provincesâ€™
The former chief administrator of the Rwandan rebels hiding in the jungles of the Democratic Republic of Congo has dismissed UN and Congolese government figures of the militia group.
The UN mission in Congo (MONUSCO) estimates the democratic forces for the liberation of Rwanda – FDLR – is less than 1500. The DRC government, eager to show that its forced disarmament operations are working, puts the figure at 340.
But Lt Col Gerard Ntibibaza, who deserted to Rwanda early this month, says the UN for its part gives figures based on hearsay from FDLR commanders. MONUSCO never visits FDLR’s bush hideouts all of which are strategically located more than 1500km away from any passable road, according to Ntibibaza.
Until his escape, he had been chief of administration for nearly three years. He says he was in charge of keeping data about all the living and operational conditions of the rebels. Field commanders were required to give him constant updates on troop levels and new recruits.
Lt Col Ntibibaza tells KT Press, a news agency in Rwanda, that as of his departure, FDLR had 5,000 combatants.
Some 3000 combatants are stationed in North Kivu province, while 2000 rebels operate in South Kivu â€“ both of which border Rwanda. There are also more specialized units with small numbers operating in Maniema and Katanga Provinces.
Ntibibaza says these “specialised units” are attached directly to elite forces of the Congolese army. Despite being FDLR, some are commanders of the Congolese units.
Members of the militia group are accused of executing the 1994 genocide against Tutsis in Rwanda, and fleeing across. The group is on the U.S. and UN terrorism sanctions list â€“ with its highest ranking commanders inducted by the International Criminal Court â€“ ICC.
The commander, who disappeared from base with his wife and three children, also narrates his daring escapade that reads like a Hollywood thriller.