DR Congo President Felix Tshisekedi accuses Rwanda of backing rebels

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Democratic Republic of Congo President Felix Tshisekedi said on Sunday there was ‘no doubt’ Rwanda was backing a rebellion on its territory, but insisted it still sought peaceful relations with Kigali.

His remarks were only the latest exchange against a backdrop of a resurgence of M23 rebels active in the east of the country, near the border with Rwanda.

“I have always maintained that we should build bridges rather than walls,” Tshisekedi told state television, in his first public remarks on the growing crisis between the two countries.

“Unfortunately, today we are where we are.”

DR Congo’s neighbors should not confuse its desire for peace with weakness, he added.

“This is not an opportunity for neighbors to come and provoke us,” he said.

“I hope that Rwanda has learned this lesson, because today, it is clear, there is no doubt, Rwanda supported the M23 to come and attack the DRC.”

Tshisekedi was speaking as he visited Kinshasa’s western neighbor Congo-Brazzaville for talks with President Denis Sassou Nguesso.

Kinshasa has accused Rwanda of supporting M23 rebels, who have been involved in a series of clashes with the army since late May, allegations Kigali has denied.

Kinshasa suspended the flights of the Rwandan airline RwandAir between the two countries and summoned the Rwandan ambassador to warn him of the country’s position.

Relations between the DRC and Rwanda have been strained since Rwandan Hutus accused of massacring Tutsis during the 1994 Rwandan genocide arrived en masse in eastern DRC.

The relationship began to thaw after Congolese President Felix Tshisekedi took office in 2019, but the recent resurgence of M23 violence has reignited regional tensions.

Both the African Union and the United Nations have called for calm.

M23 fighters captured Goma in 2012 before the army drove them out of town and crushed their rebellion.

However, the militia took up arms again at the end of 2021 after accusing the government of failing to honor a 2009 agreement which included integrating its fighters into the army.

(AFP)

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