Rwanda says DRC Delaying Repatriation of M23 rebels

Rwanda says it has done everything possible to repatriate former M23 rebels currently held at a camp in the country, but efforts have been frustrated by the DR Congo government.

Foreign Affairs Minister, Louise Mushikiwabo, said Wednesday it was time for the Congolese rebels to go home. “Rwanda has done everything possible to ensure their issue is settled,” she said.

“The ball is in the court of DRC government, and we will be happy to put this issue behind us.”

Early last year, over 1,500 Congolese, including M23 rebels and their political leader Jean-Marie Runiga, crossed into Rwanda fleeing fighting that broke out between the rebels and DRC Army.

Only 16 rebels have since returned to their country after spending over a year in Rwanda.

Mushikiwabo expressed concern that DRC government has deliberately delayed securing the repatriation of M23 rebels.

She said there was correspondence from the DRC a few weeks back, but “we waited for the delegation but we were told that because of a change in government, the person leading the delegation could no longer do that, and that the delegation will be here soon.”

In July this year, a delegation from DRC, United Nations Security Council, International Conference on Great Lakes Region and MONUSCO visited the rebels at a camp in East Rwanda.

The exercise was mean to establish how rebels should be repatriated, but Rwanda says the exercise was not completed.

Yet, Rwanda insists the rebels must go back to DR Congo as soon as possible.

Last week, Uganda started sending back home over 1,000 members of M23, after a request by DRC government.

By Dan Ngabonziza & Jean de la Croix Tabaro