President Paul Kagame says his Congolese counterpart Félix-Antoine Tshisekedi has made great progress pacifying the Eastern part of Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) in the short time he has been in office, hailing him for a positive contribution to peace and security in the great lakes region.
The Head of State made the remarks on Wednesday while addressing diplomatic corps accredited to Rwanda at a luncheon during which he explicitly spoke about Rwanda’s troubles with Uganda.
“Rwanda appreciates the productive relations with our neighbouring country to the west. We have had troubled relations with that country for some time in the past,” President Kagame said in reference to DRC.
“There is now good collaboration on cross-border trade and joint infrastructure, as well as on public health emergencies between Rwanda and DRC,” he added.
President Kagame said that the operations launched by President Tshisekedi last year to wipe out armed groups operating in DRC, including those keen on destabilizing Rwanda, have been largely successful.
“We commend the efforts of President Tshisekedi and the Congolese Armed Forces to stabilise Eastern Congo. This has produced very good results,”
“We have already seen some of these groups that have been roaming from place to place, mainly between two of our neighbours. Some of them have been apprehended, they are here and they are facing the courts. So we appreciate the support of our partners in the rehabilitation and reintegration process,” President Kagame said in praise of his Congolese counterpart.
Relations between Kigali and Kinshasa are flourishing since President Tshisekedi took office, despite opposition politicians driving the ‘balkanisation’ agenda with claims that Rwanda wants to annex parts of DRC.
President Tshisekedi last week rubbished balkanisation talk as a distraction while addressing the Congolese diaspora in the United Kingdom.
“This subject of balkanisation is a distraction. We fought in the opposition to establish democracy and to ensure that the Congolese regain their rights, No, no and no; this Congo that I lead will never be balkanised,” the Congolese leader said.
Despite gains in restoring peace in the Eastern part of the mineral rich country, reports on Wednesday indicated that at least 36 people had been killed between Tuesday and Wednesday by rebels in Beni region.
Since last year, fighting in the area has claimed hundreds as the Congolese government forces FARDC battle armed groups such as Allied Democratic Forces (ADF). According to Al Jazeera, the main attack took place late on Tuesday in Manzingi, a village 20 kilometres northwest of Oicha, while a pastor was also killed in nearby Eringeti.
Al Jazeera reported that according to a toll compiled by a civil society organisation, the Kivu Security Tracker (KST), 265 people have been killed in the Beni region since the army began its crackdown on ADF, a Ugandan rebel group which has been operating in the earlier for more than two decades.
Despite gains in Southern Kivu where Rwandan rebel groups such as Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) and RUD-Uranana, FARDC continues to struggle against the Ugandan rebel group which continuously targets civilian communities in reprisal attacks.
President Tshisekedi last month said he had changed the army command in Beni and sent 22,000 troops to the region to battle ADF.
In December last year, DRC handed over 440 former militias captured during the operations and 1, 995 of their dependants currently sheltered in Nyarushishi Transit Camp while the former fighters are in Mutobo.