Rwanda opposes AU support for SADC troops in Congo

Tuesday March 05 2024

Rwanda Foreign Affairs Minister Vincent Biruta at an African Union function in Kigali on October 26, 2021. Rwanda Government via flickr


Rwanda has asked the African Union not to support troops from southern African countries deployed to fight armed groups in the restive eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), claiming the force will exacerbate the conflict.

Rwandan Foreign Minister Vincent Biruta said in a letter to the Chairperson of the African Union (AU) Commission Moussa Faki Mahamat made public Monday that Rwanda learned “with great concern” about a scheduled meeting of the AU Peace and Security Council, part of whose objectives are to endorse the deployment of the Southern African Development Community Mission in DRC (SAMIDRC) and assess possible support that the AU and other strategic partners could extend to the mission.

Read: Why DRC shifted south to tame violence in east

Biruta accused the regional force of fighting alongside the DRC army and other coalition armed groups, which include Rwandan rebels of the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR).

“SAMIDRC, as an offensive force in coalition with these elements, cannot substitute for a political process that has been blocked by the government of DRC. Therefore, the African Union is urged not to ‘authorise’ or fund SAMIDRC,” the statement said.

It said the SAMIDRC supports the DRC government’s belligerent posture, focusing on a military solution against the spirit of all regional peace initiatives.


Read: SADC confirms troops sent to Congo

Rwanda “wishes to bring to the attention of the African Union Commission that the intention to compel the African Union to support the SAMIDRC deployment can only exacerbate the conflict,” the statement said.

Last month, fresh fighting erupted between the Congolese army and March 23 Movement (M23) rebels around Goma and Sake in the DRC’s eastern province of North Kivu.

Read: Why fighting is flaring in eastern DR Congo

DRC accusses Rwanda of backing the M23 rebels, claims Kigali denies.

In January, the Congolese military announced the start of a joint offensive in the east of the country with troops from the Southern African Development Community (SADC), a regional economic bloc, mainly targeting the M23 rebels.

The 16-member SADC approved the mission to the eastern DR Congo in May last year.