The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has agreed to release two soldiers of the Rwanda Defence Force (RDF) who were kidnapped on May 23 while on patrol along the border between the two countries.
The development was announced by the President of Angola, João Lourenço, after meeting President Félix Antoine Tshisekedi in Luanda to discuss the current tensions between Rwanda and DRC. The news came hours after the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, Dr. Vincent Biruta, demanded the protection and immediate release of the two junior soldiers.
“At the request of his Angolan counterpart, (Tshisekedi) agreed to release two Rwandan soldiers recently captured on DRC territory,” President Lourenco’s office said, adding that “This step is intended to help reduce the tension in the relationship between the two countries,”
President Lourenco later held a videoconference conversation with President Paul Kagame, Luanda said. Following the separate interactions with Lourenco, the Rwandan and DRC leaders reached “an understanding” to meet face-to-face in Luanda, at a date to be announced, according to the announcement.
On Tuesday, Minister Biruta reiterated that the two RDF soldiers were arrested while on patrol, adding that they were held and interrogated in deplorable conditions, witnessed by the United Nations Peacekeeping Force in DRC, MONUSCO.
On Tuesday, while addressing a press conference after meeting diplomatic corps to brief them on the matter, Dr. Biruta said that Rwanda has desisted from responding to provocations from DRC but said that the country has the right and capacity to defend itself if the provocations continue.
Dr. Biruta reiterated that Rwanda does not have soldiers on Congolese territory and added that the situation in DRC is a result of internal failures by the DRC government to decisively deal with armed groups on its soil, while government forces FARDC continue to work closely with the FDLR in its ranks to destabilize the region.
He added however that Rwanda is committed to peaceful ways of resolving the conflict while at the same time continue to be ready to defend her sovereignty. Minister Biruta called on the international community to condemn the genocide ideology and anti-Rwanda speech that continue to be exhibited by Congolese officials, armed forces and citizens.