Kagame speaks out on eastern DRC conflict

Paul Kagame, president of Rwanda makes a speech for beginning of the construction of the first African mRNA vaccine factory at Kigali economic zone, Kigali, Rwanda on June 23, 2022. PHOTO/COURTESY

What you need to know:

  • The rebels haven’t complied with the EAC resolutions.

Rwanda President Paul Kagame has attributed the conflict in the eastern DR Congo to violation of the human rights of Congolese of Rwandan origin.

While speaking to Ms Zain Verjee, a journalist, on the sidelines of the second annual Qatar Economic Forum, President Kagame said the Congolese government needs to fix the problems that affect people of Rwandan origin. 

“One, if you look at the Congolese of Rwandan ethnicity and how that issue has been handled in the DR Congo, it needs more attention and serious attention. If that was to be addressed and it can be addressed, there’s no question about that,” President Kagame said. 

“If you look at the rights of people, fixing their problems is a simple matter. So I don’t see why DR Congo has not done so. When the international community got involved, they ended up being part of the problem.”

The M23 rebel group, which is dominated by fighters of Rwandan origin, resumed attacks on the DR Congo government this year and they have seized the border town of Bunagana on the Congo side. 

Congolese of Rwandan origin are only 450,000 of the DR Congo’s 89.5 million population.

The DR Congo accuses Rwanda of supporting M23 rebels and also embedding in the group’s insurgents, an allegation Kigali denies.

President Kagame told Ms Verjee that the DR Congo, United Nations Organisation Stabilisation Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (Monusco), and The Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), a Rwanda rebel group, are working together to fight M23 rebels. 

“Recently in this new fighting, we found that the Congolese forces, FARDC, and Monusco, which is a United Nations force, and these FDLR that committed genocide here is Rwanda, were working together,” he said. 

“So, how did the UN force that was supposed to go fight these people end up actually fighting alongside them and against the so-called M23, which fights for the rights of these Congolese of Rwandan origin, and now they become the target, they become the problem.”

Both DR Congo government and the Monusco deny working with FDLR. The DR Congo government officials earlier said they are the ones that killed FDLR leaders in several battles to bring peace in Eastern DR Congo. 

The DR Congo President Felix Tshisekedi accuses Rwanda of creating false allegations to control Congolese territory to exploit minerals. 

On Monday, the heads of State for the East African Community met in Nairobi, Kenya, and agreed that M23 rebels and DR Congo hold a ceasefire. M23 rebels were also directed to withdraw from captured areas. 

The rebels haven’t complied with the EAC resolutions.

The EAC also established a regional force that would be deployed in eastern DR Congo in weeks to ensure their resolutions are implemented. 

However, President Tshisekedi said Rwanda wouldn’t be part of the regional troops. Rwanda insists they have interests in eastern DR Congo and they must be part of the regional force. 

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