The Democratic Republic of Congo will release two detained Rwandan soldiers as step towards easing growing tension between the two countries, Angola has announced following efforts to mediate between the two countries.
Rwanda had earlier claimed that the two soldiers were abducted as they patrolled the country’s border with DRC’s following conflict near the area, but Kinshasa had insisted that the two soldiers were captured and detained for trespassing into Congo territory.
Tension has been building up between DR Congo and Rwanda following accusations of supporting rebels. Kinshasa accused Kigali of supporting the M23 rebel group that has been recently engaged in fighting with government forces, a claim that Kigali denied, while Rwanda also accused DRC of supporting the FDLR (Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda) rebels hostile to Kigali.
On Tuesday, DR Congo President Félix Tshisekedi travelled to Angola for talks on the DRC-Rwanda tension following a suggestion by African Union Chairman Macky Sall (Senegalese president) that Angolan President João Lourenço mediate in the Congo-Rwanda issue.
Lourenço chairs the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR).
The Angolan president’s office said that he also spoke with Rwanda’s Paul Kagame on the matter, adding that Tshisekedi and Kagame have agreed to meet in Angola at a later date to resolve the tension.
Through representatives earlier in the week, both countries had said they would not rule out peaceful resolution of the growing tension.
“Whatever the nature of the crisis is today, we cannot close the doors to the possibility of talks. Even if there is war today, we will end up in dialogue,” Congolese government spokesman Patrick Muyaya said on Tuesday.
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Vincent Biruta, Rwanda’s Foreign Minister, also said, “Rwanda is not interested in a crisis. We are committed to peace, stability and economic development of our region and wish to continue working with the DRC bilaterally, through the established regional initiatives.”
The Congolese government, which is engaged in the Nairobi-brokered peace process with armed groups, says it has ruled out any talks with the M23, which the DRC now considers now “a terrorist movement”.
Despite this tough stance chosen by the DRC authorities, the M23 also say they believe in a peaceful solution to the war. “The M23 firmly believes in a peaceful solution and will return to Nairobi to dialogue with our brothers in Kinshasa,” said Bertrand Bisimwa, one of the M23 leaders. He spoke on Tuesday following a UN Security Council meeting on the situation in the DRC.