Rwanda’s foreign minister has accused the international community of “exacerbating” the crisis in eastern DRC that has plagued armed groups, after the US urged Kigali to end any alleged support for the rebels.
In a phone call with Rwandan President Paul Kagame on Sunday, US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken made it clear that “all external support for non-state armed groups in the DRC, including Rwanda’s support for the March 23 Movement, must end.”
Fighting in eastern DRC between government forces and rebels from the March 23 Movement, a former Tutsi rebellion, has heightened tensions with neighboring Rwanda, which accuses the DRC of sponsoring militias.
In a press release issued late Monday, Rwandan Foreign Minister Vincent Perotta confirmed that Paul Kagame and Anthony Blinken “had good exchanges (…) but disagreements remain over understanding the issue”.
“The wrong approach of the international community further exacerbates the problem,” the head of Rwandan diplomacy continued.
Rwanda has repeatedly blamed the crisis in eastern DRC on the Kinshasa authorities and accused the international community of ignoring their alleged support for the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), the Rwandan Hutu rebel movement. Involved in the 1994 Tutsi genocide in Rwanda.
As a threat from Kigali, this militia’s presence and violence justify previous Rwandan interventions in Congolese territory.
Vincent Perrotta stressed that “the security issues in Rwanda must be taken into account” and continued that “the March 23 Movement should not be equated with Rwanda”.
The November 23 summit in Angola ordered a ceasefire, followed by the rebel withdrawal from positions captured in recent months, but no withdrawal has been observed so far.
After a five-day ceasefire, heavy weapon fighting resumed in eastern DRC last week between the M23 and the Congolese army, which has accused the rebels of killing around 300 civilians. The March 23 Movement denied these allegations and called for an “independent investigation”.