Brace yourselves, we’re off to war (any day now)
28 January 2015, 08:12
Johannesburg - Attacks on rebel forces in the eastern
Democratic Republic of Congo could start any time now, says International Relations
Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane.
She told journalists on Tuesday ahead of the African Union
summit in Addis Ababa that the UN’s Force Intervention Brigade (FIB), of which
South African troops form part, could attack the Force for Liberation of Rwanda
(FLDR) at any time when they are ready, the City Press reported.
“An attack can happen as we are sitting here, you and I,
or it can happen tomorrow, or the day after, (it) depends on their state of
readiness,” she said.
This comes as the FDLR mostly disregarded a deadline of 2
January for surrender.
“They [the FIB] have identified the sites, which one they
will start with first. It is up to them to decide whether they have combed this
area and when they move on to the next one. But they are quite confident they
are going to be methodical, because we want no come-backs. Our role is to
neutralise negative forces,” she said.
Nkoana-Mashabane was adamant that the political decision
justifying such attacks had already been made, even as The East African
reported that DRC president Joseph Kabila would only sanction attacks on FDLR
following a summit of regional bodies.
“The basis for the neutralisation, the mandate for the
neutralisation of all negative forces was taken almost a year ago. The
operations have been going on. What stalled the operation against the FDLR was
when the FDLR raised white flags and said they wanted to literally surrender.
So they were given six months to do that,” she said.
When they disregarded the deadline earlier this month,
“the military option… was inevitable. So there is no need for a summit to sit
and discuss how they should be dealt with,” she said.
The FIB almost a year ago helped the DRC army defeat the
M23 rebels in that country, after which they set their sights on the FDLR.
The FDLR is the remnants of a Hutu rebel group and
operates in the east of the DRC.
The DRC is one of the issues set to be high on the
African Union summit agenda as well as that of the Peace and Security Council,
which is due to meet on Thursday.
The summit is happening this week, with the two-day
assembly comprising the heads of African states set to start on Friday.
- City Press