Goma: Force Intervention Brigade Commander Brigadier General James MWAKILOBWA Speaks to Press
Goma, 31 July 2013 - Speaking to Radio Okapi and international media journalists in Goma, eastern DR Congo on 25 July 2013, Brigadier General James MWAKILOBWA, Commander of the MONUSCO Force Intervention Brigade (FIB) said the FIB was already at work though not yet fully operational.
Taking place at MONUSCO regional headquarters in Goma, this was the general's first encounter with the press, and the international media represented included the BBC, Journal le Figaro, Reuters, CCTV and ITV Tanzania/VOA.
Concerns were raised about when the Intervention Brigade will be fully operational, to which General Mwakilobwa responded that the FIB is already at work as could be noticed through training, familiarizing with the environment and carrying out patrols alongside the MONUSCO North Kivu Brigade to protect Goma and its environs.
The general very assertively said first of all that "Goma will never fall again as long as the FIB is on the ground. That's the reason why the brigade is doing all in its powers through patrols to protect Goma and its environs. " But he added that the brigade can only be fully operational when all the troops including Malawi arrive.
According to the general, 75% of the troops are already on ground and by the time Malawi troops join them, the team will then be complete. He said when that moment arrives and they go fully operational, journalists will be informed so they can transmit the message to the anxious population. He cautioned however that though they are working under chapter 7 of the UN charter their primary aim is to intervene when necessary, neutralize and disarm all negative armed groups including the M23.
Asked if the M23 had captured an FIB soldier for interacting with the Rwanda armed rebel group FDLR, General MWAKIBOLWA said that this was but false propaganda, because he had cross checked this with his troops. "The FIB has never met with any armed group and if they do, we will disarm them immediately. When orders are given and ready to strike we will do so. We are not here for war we are here to disarm the negative armed groups," he said.
On the International Brigade's alleged plans to attack Rwanda he said "Rwanda knows that the FIB is here for peace and have no intention on attacking Rwanda. We are here for DR Congo's operation and not Rwanda, he added.
It should be recalled that the FIB was put in place at the request of the UN Secretary General .The Security Council then authorized a peace enforcement capacity within MONUSCO mandate through Resolution (2098). The brigade is made up of three battalions (3096) troops who will carry out targeted offensive operations in support of the Congolese army or unilaterally. Its objective also includes neutralizing armed groups, preventing their expansion and disarming them.