The arrest of a top commander of the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) by the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) could signal a renewed relations between Rwanda and its neighbour.
Congolese President Joseph Kabila in a recent meeting with Rwandan President Paul Kagame made promises to Kigali, including dealing with the FDLR, which has been operating in eastern DRC for more than two decades.
The Congolese Army announced Thursday that it had arrested Col Habyarimana Mucebo Sofuni, one of the senior commanders of the rebel outfit accused of orchestrating massacres in the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi.
Col Sofuni, who is being held in the eastern DRC town of Goma awaiting the next move, was the head of intelligence in the rebel group. He was arrested in Rutshuru, North Kivu Province on Sunday.
Rwanda says the arrest of the militia commander is a “positive development.” The Minister of Justice Johnston Busingye has called for his deportation to face trial in Rwanda.
According to Guillaume Ndjike, the spokesperson of the DRC government forces FARDC in Eastern DRC, Col Sofuni is currently being interrogated.
Observers say the arrest could be a move by Kabila to pacify the eastern part of the country, which has been dogged by conflicts over the past 20 years, and to gain the support of neighbouring countries as he clings to power.
President Kabila is facing stiff resistance from the masses after postponing presidential polls, with a plan to stay in office until 2018.
The arrest of Col Sofuni follows the August arrest of another FDLR commander, Major Sabimana Iraguha, alias Mugisha Vainqueur, in Rutshuru, North Kivu Province.
Rwanda and DRC have been working to get relations back on track after years of animosity and counter accusations of harbouring rebels.
The two presidents in August agreed that the two countries will work together to improve economic and security ties.
Following his meetings with President Kagame and Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni, observers say the Congolese President is looking to win the support of his neighbours to the west. The arrest may also be seen as a move to appease the neighbours.
© Alleastafrica and The East Africa