DRC: Cardinal Ambongo Accuses Government of Arming FDLR Rebels

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Cardinal Fridolin Ambongo has stirred controversy by accusing the government of not only the Wazalendo militia but also the Hutu rebels of the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) in the North Kivu province.

In the North Kivu region, several groups are impeding the progress of the M23 rebels. This support to the FDLR has been previously raised by the United Nations, the European Union (EU), and other diplomatic bodies, despite denials from Kinshasa. It is an argument often wielded by Rwanda, although it denies supporting the M23.

The Archbishop asserts that by providing additional weapons to various entities, the government hopes these groups will support the army against the M23 advance.

According to Fridolin Ambongo, “all these groups are well armed,” and “it is the population that pays the price.” The situation has escalated to the point where there is “a risk of widespread insecurity” for the cardinal.

The Archbishop of Kinshasa denounces the incumbent government’s strategy, which, instead of “strengthening the regular army with selected and well-trained soldiers,” arms groups that “assault citizens, commit thefts, and murders.”

Fridolin Ambongo accuses militia allied with government troops of engaging in the illegal trade of local minerals.

These remarks have irritated Kinshasa. Thierry Monsenempwo, a communicator for the ruling coalition, praises “the courage and dedication of nationalist Congolese defending peace in the East.” He accuses the cardinal of “speaking the language of the enemy.” According to Thierry Monsenempwo, it is “unjust to compare these peace-engaged patriots to armed groups spreading terror and death in the region.”

Cardinal Fridolin Ambongo returned to Kinshasa on Friday, April 19, after five days at the Holy See. Despite his status, he was denied access to the VIP waiting lounge at the airport on departure, and his entourage reports that he did not pass through it upon his return.

Soukaina Sghir

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