Angola to Play Peacemaker by Hosting DR Congo-Rwanda Meeting Amid Threats of War
20:39 GMT 05.07.2022 (Updated: 11:10 GMT 24.11.2022)
Angolan President Joao Lourenco will host the leaders of Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo later this week to try and defuse escalating tensions between the two nations, which have traded accusations of supporting proxy forces in eastern Congo.
DRC President Felix Tshisekedi and his Rwandan counterpart, Paul Kagame, will travel to Luanda on Wednesday for talks, Patrick Muyaya, a spokesperson for Tshisekedi, told the Associated Press (AP) on Tuesday.
“They will be discussing Rwanda’s aggression in Congo,” Muyaya told the AP, adding it “is obvious” that Kinshasa still believes that Kigali has not just given the M23 rebel group its support, but has sent Rwandan soldiers to fight alongside them in eastern Congo’s North Kivu Province.
Kigali has denied both claims and levied similar ones at Kinshasa, saying they support the Hutu Power group Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), a militia in North Kivu descended from those who carried out the genocide of Rwandan Tutsis and Twa in 1994. In North Kivu, the FDLR and M23, a primarily Tutsi group, oppose each other.
“That is the same story for 20 years ago. Why would Congo be supporting them to shell Rwanda territory? Those accusations are not true,” Muyaya told AP. “We have to deal with hundreds of armed groups inside the country and we have been talking to all neighbors about a common strategy to end foreign armed group activities.”
© Paul EllisDemocratic Republic of Congo's President Felix Tshisekedi delivers his message during a session on Action on Forests and Land Use, during the UN Climate Change Conference COP26 in Glasgow, Scotland, Tuesday, Nov. 2, 2021.
Democratic Republic of Congo's President Felix Tshisekedi delivers his message during a session on Action on Forests and Land Use, during the UN Climate Change Conference COP26 in Glasgow, Scotland, Tuesday, Nov. 2, 2021.
A previous conflict between Hutu and Tutsi groups in eastern Congo, in the aftermath of the 1994 genocide, led to the outbreak of the bloody Congo Wars, which drew in dozens of African nations and killed millions, mainly in DR Congo. The conflict is often referred to as “Africa’s World War” due to its destructiveness and scope.
In late June, the East African Community took action to try and calm tensions, voting to send troops to North Kivu to help keep the peace. A United Nations peacekeeping force has long been present in the area, with some 14,000 troops whose purpose is to keep different militia groups from fighting each other or brutalizing the local population.
The situation in North Kivu began to deteriorate last year after the M23, a group that disarmed in 2013, rebelled, claiming Kinshasa had not honored the terms of its demobilization. A series of infractions by both sides have turned up the tension, including the soldiers’ kidnappings, rockets flying across the border, and more.
© AP PhotoPresident Emmanuel Macron of France hosted Rwanda's President Kagame at the Elysee Palace last year as he sought to thaw relations
President Emmanuel Macron of France hosted Rwanda's President Kagame at the Elysee Palace last year as he sought to thaw relations
© AP Photo
“If it wants war, it will have war,” Tshisekedi said of Rwanda late last month after M23 captured the city of Bunagana on the Rwandan border.
A separate incident earlier this week unfolded elsewhere in North Kivu. In the city of Beni, a Ugandan soldier “inadvertently shot … two of his comrades,” a spokesperson for the joint Congo-Uganda military mission there told reporters on Tuesday. He added that the soldier was under arrest.
Last month, Kampala and Kinshasa agreed to extend their six-month joint military operation in North Kivu for an unspecified period of time. The Ugandan military sent 1,700 troops into the area in December 2021 to help fight the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), an Islamist rebel group that has long operated there but which in 2021 declared its allegiance to Daesh* and has been blamed for terrorist attacks in Kampala and across North Kivu. The group is of Ugandan origin but fled across the border into DR Congo in the 1990s.
*Daesh (also known as ISIS/ISIL/IS) is a terrorist organization banned in Russia and many other countries