Leaders of Rwanda and Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) are set to meet in Luanda, Angola, under the mediation of President João Lourenço, in an effort to diffuse tensions between the two countries, following the recent outbreak of renewed fighting in Eastern DRC, officials have confirmed.
Relations between Kigali and Kinshasa have deteriorated fast in recent months, with DRC accusing Rwanda of supporting the resurgence of the M23 group which is currently engaged in fighting with Congolese Government forces.
The meeting in Luanda will be the first mediation effort by the Angolan leader, who has the backing of the African Union (AU) and the United Nations (UN), to bring together President Paul Kagame and his Congolese counterpart, Felix Antoine Tshisekedi, to find a solution to the simmering situation.
Rwanda has categorically denied supporting the M23 rebellion and President Kagame, while appearing in an interview on the national TV on Monday, said that he talked to President Tshisekedi to resolve the underlying political issues or else fighting would flare up again.
The Head of State said that the resurgent fighting in the volatile Eastern Part of DRC is a result of the government ignoring the grievances of Kinyarwanda-speaking populations, despite many efforts in the past to encourage Kinshasa to apply political solutions to the issues.
President Kagame said that Rwanda cannot be blamed for DRC’s failure to handle internal political issues, including granting Kinyarwanda-speaking communities their rights and committing to the peace agreement signed in the past.
He reiterated that the Congolese government has failed to deal with the existence of FDLR in DRC, to the extent that today they are working with them to destabilise Rwanda- a fact he said MONUSCO is well aware of but has not done anything about it.
When the two leaders meet in Angola, the said issues will be laid on the table for discussion. Several regional leaders and representatives of regional bodies are expected to attend the meeting.
President Kagame on Monday said that a political solution, rather than a military solution, is what is needed to resolve the situation, pointing out that until DRC acknowledges its responsibility, fighting will keep recurring.
He further said that Rwanda has no problem not being part of the proposed East African Community (EAC) force, as the DRC wishes.
“I have no problem with that. We are not begging anyone that we participate in the force,” President Kagame said in a lengthy interview with the public broadcaster.
“If anybody’s coming from anywhere, excluding Rwanda, but will provide the solution that we’re all looking for, why would I have a problem,” Kagame said, without mentioning anything about the forthcoming meeting.