Top Rwandan and DR Congo military officials met in Kigali this week on the back of an attack by an armed group believed to be ex-M23 rebels in Tshanzu and Runyoni, North Kivu, eastern DR Congo on Sunday.
On Wednesday, (November 10), Gen Jean-Bosco Kazura, Rwanda’s Defence Force Chief of Defence Staff, hosted his Congolese counterpart, Gen Célestin Mbala Munsense, DR Congo Armed Forces (FARDC) Chief of General Staff, during an official visit at the Rwanda Defence Force (RDF) headquarters in Kigali.
Gen Mbala told the media that the visit’s objective was to assess the mutual efforts to prevent negative forces operating “along our borders in a bid to strengthen our relationships towards the mutual development of our people,” and discuss “plans between our countries to deal with terrorist groups and other transnational threats.”
According to the RDF, the suspected ex-M23 rebels crossed into DR Congo “from Ugandan territory where it is based, and attacked and occupied the villages of Tshanzu and Runyoni.”
The RDF also refuted media reports and by officials in the region that the ex-M23 armed group originated from or retreated to Rwanda.
Political analysts have observed that the M-23 incident is one of the setbacks Rwanda and DR Congo will likely continually face as they work on developing neighbourly relations.
“The countries have had frosty relations for years and mending them is happening fast. We will likely see more distractions from the media, armed groups and individuals,” said Dr Eric Ndushabandi, a professor of political science at the University of Rwanda.
Dr Ndushabandi added that despite the setbacks and controversial media reports on the incident, Rwandans and Congolese are already benefiting from the improved relations.
In June, presidents Kagame and Tshisekedi signed bilateral deals after meeting in Goma. The deals signed include the promotion and protection of investments, taxation and tax evasion between the two countries and a memorandum on gold mining co-operation.
Dr Ndushabandi, who is also the director of the Institute of Research and Dialogue for Peace, a Rwandan think-tank, said that as the East African Community considers DR Congo’s request to join the bloc, both countries will likely have more co-operation deals lined up.
“There is political goodwill on both sides, despite the challenges. Citizens on both sides will benefit from bilateral projects and infrastructure when DR Congo joins the bloc,” he added.
President Tshisekedi is expected to host a multi-stakeholder DRC-Africa Business Forum on November 24-25, to discuss the development of battery electric vehicle (BEV) and renewable energy value chain and market in Africa, to capture a share of the expanding BEV market projected to be worth $8.8 trillion by 2025 and $46 trillion by 2050.