Rwanda’s Minister of Foreign Affairs has accused the international community of “exacerbating” the crisis in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), which is plagued by armed groups. This accusation comes after the United States urged Kigali to stop any supposed support for the rebels.
During a phone chat on Sunday with the President of Rwanda, Paul Kagame, the Secretary of State of the United States, Antony Blinken, “made it clear that all external support to non-state armed organizations in the DRC must halt, including Rwanda’s backing for M23.” Fighting between government forces and the M23 rebels, a former Tutsi insurgency, in the eastern part of the DRC has strained relations with neighboring Rwanda. The DRC says that Rwanda is helping the militia, but Kigali denies this.
Vincent Biruta, the Minister of Foreign Affairs for the Republic of Rwanda, said in a news release sent out on Monday evening that Paul Kagame and Anthony Blinken “had had cordial exchanges, but their understandings of the matter remain different.” The chief of Rwanda’s diplomatic mission went on to say that “the incorrect response of the international community continues to compound the crisis.”
Rwanda has said over and over that the government in Kinshasa is to blame for the crisis in eastern DRC, and it has accused the international community of turning a blind eye to its supposed support for the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), a group of Rwandan Hutu rebels, some of whom were involved in the 1994 genocide of Tutsis in Rwanda. This militia was seen as a threat by Kigali, and the fact that it existed and used violence gave Rwanda a reason to invade the Congo region in the past.
Vincent Biruta said, “Rwanda’s security problems must be taken into account.” He also said, “The M23 should not be linked to Rwanda.” Insurgents were supposed to leave sites they had taken over in recent months after a truce, which was ordered at a summit in Angola on November 23. However, there has been no pullback yet.
Last Monday, heavy-arms battles resumed in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) between the M23 and the Congolese army. The Congolese army accused the rebels of massacring approximately 300 people during the truce that had been in place for the previous five days. The M23 organization has categorically denied these allegations and has demanded an “independent investigation.”