By Giles Muhame / chimpreports.com
Rwanda Defence Forces (RDF) has warned the country will not allow future bombings of its territory from the Democratic Republic of Congo
“Rwandans should know first of all that those issues are being discussed in diplomatic circles, but if they persist, the Rwandan Army will protect its sovereignty,” said Rwanda Defence Forces (RDF) spokesperson, Brigadier General Joseph Nzabamwita on Thursday evening.
“All these are FARDC’s acts of provocations. They have to stop or we will act in defense of our sovereignty and the safety of our people,” he added.
“There was no fighting near the border so these bombings from areas controlled by FARDC were aimed at provoking us to retaliate. They have to stop.”
Nzabamwita made the remarks during the tour of areas in Busasama Sector, Rubavu District that were bombed by militants in the area under the control of DRC troops – FARDC and UN peacekeeping mission, MONUSCO on July 15.
Defence Attachés from France, Belgium, US and Tanzania Embassies and one diplomat from the German Embassy accredited in Kigali and journalists were taken to a tour of the bombed sites.
“Further facts prove that the two bombs were shelled on Rwanda territory from BM 21 located at Carriere, in Mugunga 12 kms from Goma,” Nzabamwita said.
“The BM 21 is manned by gunners of 41 Commando Bn of Col Didier, Commando Bde commanded by Col Mamadou Ndala. The Commando Bde is collocated with MONUSCO.”
Nzabamwita further noted: “It should be recalled that in November 2012, FARDC fired on Rwanda territory 15 bombs killing innocent civilians and MONUSCO was silent and defending them even when DRC apologized for firing at Rubavu, saying it was undisciplined officers that fired without orders.”
Tensions hit peak levels on Wednesday after MONUSCO “rejected allegations of ‘deliberate bombings’ of Rwanda territory that would have originated from DRC.”
Rwanda revealed photos of shells following the bombings, before warning the peacekeeping mission that its actions are fueling tensions in the region.
“The gratuitous denial by MONUSCO, without prior investigations constitutes a dangerous pattern. This is not the first time MONUSCO is denying verifiable attacks on Rwanda territory,” said Rwanda in a statement issued Wednesday evening.
The bombing was verified by Expanded Joint Verification Mechanism (EJVM)
“It is a fact that MONUSCO deploys in Goma areas where the bombs came from. MONUSCO is collocated with FARDC,” the statement added.
Rwanda’s relations with DRC have lately been deteriorating over the armed insurgency in the eastern part of the war-torn country. There are counter accusations between the two countries of backing each other’s rebel groups.
Observers argue that by providing sanctuary and logistics to FDLR, a Rwandan militia that draws its militants and leaders from perpetrators of the Rwanda genocide in which one million people were slaughtered in 1994; Kinshasha is not only stoking tensions but also cultivating a ground for a regional war.
Several UN reports have accused DRC of conniving with FDLR to carry out attacks inside Rwanda, allegations the international body corroborated with unquestionable evidence.
Rwanda denies backing M23 as alleged by UN, saying a war across its border is more of harm than good since it affects its tourism potential. There is general consensus among observers that DRC can only be stable if it extended state authority to the entire country.
The operations of FDLR and Uganda rebel group ADF in Congo have since been described by President Yoweri Museveni as a “terrorism conservation project.” Speaking at a press conference in June, US President Barrack Obama said DRC leader Joseph Kabila should “do more” on extending state authority to eastern Congo considering that the conflict over mineral resources has cost hundreds of lives and pushed thousands of refugees into deplorable conditions in refugee camps in neighbouring countries of Rwanda and Uganda.
“President Kabila inside of Congo has to do more and better when it comes to dealing with the DRC’s capacity on security issues and delivery of services,” said Obama. “And that’s very important, because if there’s a continuing vacuum there, then that vacuum sometimes gets filled by actors that don’t have the best interests of Congo at heart,” he added.