In an escalation of hostilities with a neighbor, Rwandan President Paul Kagame has accused Congo of backing rebels opposed to his administration. In exchange, Congo has accused Rwandan authorities of backing a dangerous rebel group that recently overran a town in eastern Congo.
Rwanda’s KIGALI (AP) — The president of Rwanda, Paul Kagame, raised tensions with a neighbor on Monday by accusing Congo of backing rebels who are opposed to his administration and accusing Congo of helping Rwandan-backed armed rebels who just took control of a town in eastern Congo.
In a speech broadcast on television, Kagame stated that his nation is concerned about reports that the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), a rebel organization with members allegedly involved in the 1994 genocide, are receiving help from the Republic of the Congo.
After the M23 rebel group last month captured the Congolese town of Bunagana at the Uganda border and Congolese authorities claimed that Rwandan troops had invaded Congo, relations between Rwanda and Congo have deteriorated recently.
In a dispute with the claims of conflict observers, U.N. specialists, and others, Rwanda has long denied aiding M23. M23 is primarily made up of ethnic Congolese Tutsi fighters who claim their government has broken previous promises to incorporate them into the national army.
Allegations that the Congolese government back the FDLR are denied.
However, Kagame claimed on Monday that Congo is actively arming the FDLR, whose members are charged with killing dozens of people in an attack in 2019 in the tourist town of Kinigi in northern Rwanda. “Facts and records support it. FDLR is being supported by (Congo), and MONUSCO, the U.N. peacekeepers on the ground, is aware of this, he said.
It was not possible to contact MONUSCO for comment right away.
Kagame claimed that the Congo was attempting to draw Rwanda into “their troubles” and questioned how long his government would be able to withstand such provocations. He discussed the rights of Kinyarwanda-speaking Congolese in eastern Congo and claimed that the M23 rebels’ complaints must be addressed by the Congolese government.
“Recently, they have acted like spoilt children. He criticized Congolese authorities, saying that they “create issues and then start complaining.”
The East African Community bloc’s regional leaders are trying to send a peacekeeping force to the unrest-ridden districts of eastern Congo.
When the force, which would be permitted to disarm militants, will be sent is still unknown.
Congo has stated that it is opposed to having Rwandan troops join such a group. On Monday, Kagame stated he was okay with that.
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