Rwanda, DRC ministers to meet over M23 

EAC Armed Forces on a parade during a field training exercise Ushirikiano Imara 2022 at Jinja Cantonment on June 3, 2022. PHOTO/UPDF 

The foreign affairs ministers of Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) have agreed to meet at the “earliest” to resolve their differences a year since Kinshasa cut ties over allegations that Kigali was supporting M23 rebels.

The two ministers made the pledge on July 8 at a retreat of foreign affairs ministers from East African Community member states in Zanzibar, Tanzania.

“The ministers took note of the state of interstate relations and the adverse impact on the integration agenda and encouraged the partner states to use existing frameworks provided for in the treaty for the establishment of the East African Community to address interstate disputes,” a joint statement by EAC ministers reads in part. “To this end, the ministers of the Republic of Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo agreed to meet as the earliest in the framework of the Luanda Process,” the statement adds.

The foreign affairs ministers met as per the directive of the 23rd extraordinary summit of EAC heads of state held on June 7.

The Monday meeting was attended by Uganda’s First Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of EAC Affairs Rebecca Kadaga, Rwanda’s Foreign Affairs Minister Olivier Nduhungirehe, DRC’s Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs, Gracia Yamba Kazadi and Kenya’s Prime Cabinet Secretary and Minister of Foreign and Diaspora Affairs Musalia Mudavadi.

The others were Tanzania’s Minister for Foreign Affairs and East African Cooperation January Yusud Makamba, Somalia’s State Minister of Foreign Affairs-in-charge of EAC Affairs Ali Mohamed Omar, South Sudan’s Minister of EAC, who is also chairperson of EAC Council of Ministers Deng Alor Kuol and Burundi’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and Development Cooperation Albert Shingiro.

In the meeting, the ministers raised concerns of the deteriorating security and humanitarian situation in eastern DRC.

The M23, which international organisations say is backed by Rwanda, resumed fighting in April 2022 and by June that year, it had captured Bunagana border post on the DRC side.

They have since taken over a huge territory in eastern DRC and they are moving to the northern region where Uganda and Congolese forces are fighting Allied Democratic Forces rebels.

The fighting between M23 rebels and DRC has since been halted after the United States initiated a two-week humanitarian truce through talks with Rwanda and DRC officials.

EAC foreign affairs ministers recommended that the US-negotiated truce should be extended indefinitely as they explore avenues to sustain peace in the eastern DRC.