France finally arrested, Callixte Mbarushimana, one of the leaders of the FDLR, a Hutu nationalist group active in eastern Congo. It was reported that Mbarushimana will be handed over to the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague. This is a bold and appropriate move, especially when one takes into account the incessant havoc that the FDLR has caused in the region. However, will this arrest solve the FDLR cancerous problem?
Hard question that only time will answer. Nonetheless, many agree that the arrests will be a strong statement against impunity in the region. This could have a deterrent effect on the many militias that continue to terrorize the region. War lords will now know that justice awaits them, in the event that they orchestrate violence against unarmed civilians.
It is necessary to say that the arrest of Mr. Mbarushimana will be seen, by some, as the continuation of selective justice that has mainly targeted Hutu individuals. As I noted in a previous post, criminal individuals belonging to the Tutsi ethnic group remain untouchable. Two of the most recent ones, Bosco Ntaganda and Laurent Nkunda are shielded by the small but influential Rwanda regime from the International Criminal Court.
For justice to make any meaningful change, it ought to be applied equally and without favoritism.
Finally, I believe that the FDLR is mostly a political problem which emanates from the deeply fragmented ethnic tensions. If Rwanda was to liberalize its internal politics, it is possible that the FDLR will lose influence among the Hutu people. A democratic Rwanda, with guarantees for political pluralism, would attract the support of a majority of Rwandans. And, to be honest, most people whether Tutsi or Hutu are tired of the meaningless and atrocious violence that has characterized the African Great Lakes region.
For normality to reign, considerable pressure needs to be directed towards Rwanda’s despotic regime and, of course, the warring factions.