Pentagon leaks: DR Congo intel agency eyes FDLR to force regime change in Rwanda

DR Congo’s National Intelligence Agency (ANR) supports regime change in Rwanda, according to leaks allegedly from the United States military’s intelligence.

A section of the leaked Pentagon file, on the security crisis in eastern DR Congo, says the ANR’s Deputy Provincial Director in South Kivu Province, Kwalezitome Lilungi Dodo, supports the use of militias “to overthrow” Rwandan President Paul Kagame.

In December 2022 DR Congo’s President Felix Tshisekedi said, “Rwandans need our support to liberate themselves.”

Speaking to youth leaders in the Congolese capital, Kinshasa, Tshisekedi repeated the accusation that Rwanda invaded DR Congo through the M23 rebel group, and said President Kagame was “the enemy.”

The Pentagon leaks indicate that Lilungi has been an advocate of increasing DR Congo’s aggressiveness against M23 and Rwandan incursions into DR Congo.

The leaks note: “Lilungi initially recommended using Mai-Mai armed groups and other rebels against M23 and Rwandan Defence Forces to overthrow Rwandan President Paul Kagame in late January.”

Rwanda has long accused the Congolese army, FARDC, of cooperating with the FDLR, a UN-sanctioned terrorist group founded in 2000 by remnants of Interahamwe militia and the former Rwandan army who planned and executed the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda.

The FDLR is at the heart of the insecurity affecting eastern DR Congo and the region.

Although officially denied by Kinshasa, the FARDC-FDLR alliance has been carefully documented by the Rwandan intelligence services, which have revealed direct contacts between the Congolese political and military authorities and FDLR leaders, including ‘Major General’ Pacifique Ntawunguka, who is under sanctions imposed by the United Nations Security Council.

For nearly three decades, FDLR has launched attacks on Rwandan territory. In 2019, an attack by RUD-Urunana, one of the genocidal militia’s factions, killed 14 people in Musanze District.

In the ongoing conflict in eastern DR Congo, the M23 rebels accuse the Congolese army of integrating the FDLR and other militias such as Mai Mai, and CODECO.

Balkanisation theory

According to the leaked CIA file, Lilungi had no confidence in the ongoing efforts by the East African Community (EAC) to restore peace and security in DR Congo’s volatile eastern region, which is home to more than 130 Congolese and foreign armed groups.

As revealed, Lilungi, in mid-February, “assessed that the East Africa Community (EAC) were complicit in the balkanization of the [DR Congo], especially with reported inaction from Kenyan contingents of the EAC Regional Force (EACRF) among other events that have resulted in the EAC reportedly losing the trust of the [Congolese] population.”

The balkanisation of DR Congo is a decades-long theory that is regularly circulated to indicate that certain forces want to partition the country into many independent states.

The regional force comprising troops from Kenya, Burundi, Uganda and South Sudan, has faced criticism from the Congolese government over ‘failing’ to fight the M23 rebels yet regional leaders mandated the force to first prioritise

During the 21st Extraordinary EAC Heads of State Summit held on May 31, in Bujumbura, Burundi, regional leaders not only commended EACRF for its achievement towards the restoration of peace and security in eastern DR Congo but also gave it more assignments in order to consolidate the gains made.

The EAC regional force, which deployed troops in November 2022, occupies numerous areas earlier vacated by the M23 rebels as part of a withdrawal process agreed in Luanda, Angola.

“Lilungi further argued that the [DR Congo] needed to expel the Kenyan and Ugandan People’s Defense Forces troops whom he assessed were working as part of the destabilization plot against the [DR Congo],” the leaked Pentagon file reads.

Kenya – the first country to deploy under the EAC operation – has a contingent of about 900 soldiers deployed in Kibumba in Nyiragongo territory and Rumangabo in Rutchuru territory, where they have taken over territories earlier captured by the M23 from Congolese forces.

Uganda’s contingent of about 900 soldiers under EACRF is deployed in areas such as Bunagana, Kiwanja, and Rutchuru.

In addition to the troops under the EAC regional force, earlier, in November 2021, Uganda and DR Congo signed a bilateral pact to conduct a joint military operation code-named “Operation Shujaa” against the ADF in eastern DR Congo following escalated attacks by the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) rebels in both countries.