The US is accusing Rwanda of deploying troops to the Democratic Republic of Congo, adding blame to Kigali’s role in violence in the vast neighbouring country.
A statement issued on Wednesday said Washington was asking Kigali to adhere to regional peace initiatives by withdrawing support for armed groups in the DRC, but also suggested Kigali had illegally deployed troops to the country.
“We reiterate our call on Rwanda to cease support for the M23 armed group and to withdraw its troops from the DRC to facilitate implementation of these commitments in accordance with the timeline endorsed at the February 17 EAC mini-summit,” said a statement from the US Department of State.
“We also reiterate our call on all parties to condemn hate speech and urgently work to prevent ethnic violence. We urge the swift implementation of the outcomes of the February 17 EAC Mini-Summit, the Luanda and Nairobi processes, especially the communiqué of the mini-summit of Luanda of November 23, 2022.”
Supporting M23 rebels
This was the first time Washington had pinned blame on Kigali for involving their military in the DRC. Previously, Washington had sided with Kinshasa to accuse Rwanda of supporting the M23 rebels, made up of Congolese Tutsis and who have taken up arms over marginalisation in the DRC.
Washington said it endorsed a decision of the recent meeting of the African Union Peace and Security Council which asked all foreign armed groups to leave DRC and for all rebels to withdraw from occupied positions.
Kigali did not immediately comment on the US statement but has in the past rejected accusations of fomenting conflict in the DRC.
On the margins of the recent AU Summit in Addis Ababa, Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame indicated his country is ready to play its part in search for peace but not by carrying burdens of others.
“There are no lessons Rwanda needs to be taught about the meaning of peace. Those of us who have fought for peace know its price. We need peace more than we need minerals,” he said, according to talking points shared with the media on Friday.
At the Summit last week, the US sent Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Molly Phee and special envoy for the US-Africa Summit Johnnie Carson. Ms Phee met with regional leaders João Manuel Lourenço of Angola, Félix Tshisekedi of the DRC, Kagame of Rwanda, Kenya’s President William Ruto and Ugandan Foreign Minister Jeje Odongo.
“In each meeting, Assistant Secretary Phee discussed with regional leaders our shared commitment to achieve peace and stability in eastern DRC and the urgent need for revitalisation of the peace processes. The United States will continue to support and advance African diplomatic efforts to resolve the conflict in eastern DRC.”