In response to a recent accusation that Rwanda Defence Forces (RDF) has been supporting rebel group M23, governor of the Western Province has refuted the claims. Governor Francois Habitegeko, refused the accusations that have been doing rounds after many months of suspicion and mistrust building between both sides. It was being seen that Rwanda Defense Forces were probably backing the latest M23 attacks in Tshanzi and Runyoni in DR Congo.
The claims have been made by General Sylvain Ekenge, spokesman for the military governor of North Kivu province, that the “March 23 Movement” was being supported by the Western province governor. He has further said that the RDF “carried out incursions and attacked FARDC (Congolese Armed Forces) positions in Tchanzu and Runyoni, in the Rutshuru territory”.
In response, François Habitegeko said, the accusations were baseless, and that the Rwandan army “is in no way involved in warlike activities” in the DRC, he added. Substantiating on these claims, Congolese General Ekenge said two Rwandan soldiers had been arrested during the recent attacks and gave their identities: Warrant Officer Jean-Pierre Habyarimana and Private John Uwajeneza Muhindi, alias Zaje, of the 65th Battalion of the 402nd RDF Brigade.
Refuting this claim too, Mr. Habitegeko said that these two men were arrested “more than a month ago”, the Rwandan governor said, adding that the Rwandan army did not have any soldiers with the names mentioned.
Also known as the “Congolese Revolutionary Army”, the M23 stems from a former Congolese Tutsi rebellion once supported by Rwanda and Uganda, countries bordering this province which has been plagued by violence from numerous armed groups for over 25 years. Defeated in 2013 by the Congolese army, the M23 has been in the news again since November, when it was accused of attacking several military positions. The movement blames the Kinshasa authorities for not respecting commitments made for the demobilisation and reintegration of its fighters.