DR Congo army accuses Rwanda of deploying soldiers 'to defend M23'
Thursday June 09 2022
The tension between Kinshasa and Kigali appeared to heat up on Wednesday night after the Congolese army accused Rwanda of deploying soldiers dressed in a different uniform to boost the M23 militia.
The army, known by its French acronym FARDC, said at least 500 Rwandan troops have joined M23 in Rutshuru, North Kivu, in the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo close to the border between the two countries.
Read: EDITORIAL: Let’s look beyond the obvious in the conflict in Congo
In a statement issued on Wednesday night, the Congolese army said: “Rwanda has deployed in the vicinity of Tchanzu (in North Kivu) 500 Special Forces soldiers, all dressed in new green-black uniforms and wearing the helmets of its Special Force".
“Worse still, the M23 terrorists, supported by their natural mentor Rwanda, intentionally attacked Monusco [the UN mission in the DRC] in Muhati, in Rutshuru territory. Yet the Monusco force is in full exercise of its mission in accordance with the mandate of the UN Security Council,” the statement added.
Rwanda Government Spokesperson Yolande Makolo said, "Through our foreign minister as well as our permanent representative at the United Nations, Rwanda has made its position clear, we are not interested in a crisis and will not respond to baseless accusations."
Last week, the DRC accused Rwanda of backing the M23, but Kigali denied the accusations saying the M23 issue is a Congolese matter. The Rwandan army also accuses DR Congo of being in alliance with the FDLR, the armed group that settled in the Kivus after fleeing Rwanda in 1994 after the Genocide against the Tutsi.
According to the Congolese army, during the attacks of June 8, three Tanzanian peacekeepers were injured, with one of them nursing serious injuries.
Also read: Rwanda to retaliate against 'further attacks' from DR Congo
The FARDC also states that “since the arrest of the Rwandan special forces soldiers in Rutshuru territory, Rwanda has changed the uniforms of these soldiers to conceal its presence in Congolese territory alongside the M23 terrorists.”
On May 28, the Congolese army detained two Rwandan soldiers whom it accused of trespassing into DRC territory. Rwanda, however, said the soldiers were abducted as they patrolled the country’s border with DRC following conflict near the area.
Also read: AU asks Angolan president to mediate in Congo-Rwanda crisis
Last week, DRC agreed to free the Rwandan soldiers following mediation efforts. According to Congolese Foreign Minister Christophe Lutundula, the Rwandan soldiers will be handed over to President João Lourenço, chairperson of the International Conference on the Great Lakes, who has been tasked by the African Union to mediate between Rwanda and the DRC.