A commander of the Rwandan rebels in DRCongo has this Friday surrendered and repatriated with his family to Rwanda to start a new life.
Lieutenant Colonel Nibabaza a.k.a Mambo Gerald aged 47 was head of G1 in the administration of Democratic Front for Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR-FOCA). He was directly attached to Sylvestre Mudacumura the FDLR leader wanted by International Criminal Court for the militia’s crimes against humanity.
The fighter left his base at Walikale in Democratic Republic of Congo and crossed to Rwanda through the Rubavu border post. He was accompanied by his wife Sergeant Jacqueline Nyirakamana and other seven combatants and four dependants.
The rebel commander and his fellow fighters told Kigali Today journalist in Rubavu district that they chose to repatriate after realising it was their best option.
“We are leading a sorry life in the forest; stealing, disputing over food with Congolese regular soldiers…while we have always learnt that our fellow Rwandans are happily building this country,” Sergeant Nyirakamana said adding FDLR has no organised combatants.
The former rebel was born in Ngororero district,Western Province
Sgt. Nyirakamana left Rwanda in 1998 during the infiltration (abacengezi) war and got married to Mambo in 2000 who introduced her into FDLR. She served under the rebel group’s intelligence section. She could sneak into Rwanda in 2010 and return to rebel bases in DRC and occasionally convinced her husband to repatriate.
“My call to repatriate was resisted for long. Time has come now,” she said.
Jean Sayinzoga, the chairman of Rwanda Demobilization and Reintegration Commission (RDRC) told KT Press, “We provide to every ex-combatants with important skills, then pocket money to support their feeding before they get their own harvest.”
Sayinzoga said, since 1997, over 11,000 ex-members of FDLR repatriated and are leading a decent life among the community.
After reaching the country, the combatants headed to Mutobo demobilisation camp located in Musanze district.
In Mutobo, combatants spend 3 months learning basic skills that allow them start a new life.
Meanwhile, their children will be hosted by relatives.
Of recent, another senior officer identified as Major Noah also repatriated to Rwanda. He was in charge of outreach program in FDLR.
The U.S. National Counterterrorism Center listed FDLR-FOCA as a terror organization responsible for acts of terrorism that have killed hundreds of civilians in Eastern Congo since 2009.