DR Congo, Rwanda agree plan to disband FDLR militia
By Joe Bavier
GOMA, Congo, Dec 4 (Reuters) - Congo and Rwanda have agreed a military plan to try to disband a Rwandan Hutu militia whose presence in eastern Congo is seen as a root cause of enduring conflict there, the Congolese Foreign Minister said on Thursday.
Alexis Thambwe Mwamba said the plan to tackle the FDLR armed group was drawn up by officers from the Great Lakes neighbours and agreed with his Rwandan counterpart Rosemary Museminali.
The two ministers met in Goma, capital of Democratic Republic of Congo's North Kivu province, where weeks of fighting have displaced a quarter of a million people.
The conflict pits Tutsi rebels led by renegade General Laurent Nkunda against the Congolese army and Rwandan Hutu fighters from the rebel Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR).
Nkunda cites the presence in east Congo of the FDLR, which includes perpetrators of Rwanda's 1994 genocide of Tutsis by Hutus, as the main justification for his Tutsi rebellion, which has conquered fresh territory in recent weeks.
Mwamba said the joint plan, whose details he refused to reveal, would be signed on Friday.
"The FDLR must either go back to Rwanda or become non-combatant in Congolese territory," he told reporters.
The Congolese minister said implementation of the plan could involve friendly outside forces, such as the U.N. peacekeeping mission in Congo (MONUC) or soldiers from the southern African SADC bloc, which has offered troops to help pacify east Congo.
Nkunda has declared a ceasefire with the Congolese government army, but his Tutsi fighters are still battling the FDLR, whose existence many regional experts believe is at the heart of the persisting fighting in North Kivu.
"They (the FDLR) are actually the root cause of the insecurity that we see around," Museminali said.
United Nations peacekeepers in Congo fear that without a political settlement the violence could escalate into a repeat of the wider 1998-2003 regional war that devastated Congo.