Rwanda says the “new” United Nations Group of Experts report accusing Rwanda of intervening militarily in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is an attempt to distract the world from the failure of the UN to address the root cause of the conflict in the eastern part of the country, a problem that dates back to 1994.
The unpublished report, which was leaked to the media on Thursday claims that there “solid evidence” that Rwandan troops have been fighting alongside the M23 but the Rwandan government says the allegations are not just false, the report was haphazardly released to cover up for the UN failures in DRC, including failure to eradicate armed groups including the FDLR.
Government Spokesperson, Yolande Makolo, says the report authored by ‘independent experts’ reveals nothing new and falls short of addressing the root cause of the conflict in Eastern DRC, which is the existence of armed groups, including the FDLR which has operated there since 1994, despite the existence of the UN Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO).
MONUSCO, which has been in DRC since 1999, has since come under fire from Congolese populations who accuse it of failing the country. Until recently, MONUSCO had said that there is no evidence that Rwanda is involved in the renewed insurgency in Eastern DRC.
The UN peacekeeping force has also been accused of looking on as members of the FDLR militia continue to fight alongside Congolese government forces, FARDC. Rwanda maintains that for peace to prevail in the region, the DRC has to deal with the underlying political issues that led to renewed fighting and also address the problem of FDLR in Eastern DRC.
In a statement issued on Thursday evening, Rwanda said it cannot comment on an unpublished and unvalidated report, adding that it was haphazardly released to deflect from the real issue, which is the UN and the DRC government failing to uproot armed groups such as FDLR, which continue to threaten regional stability.
“The UN Security Council received a UN Group of Experts report on DRC in June 2022, which contained none of these false allegations, and a mid-term report is expected in December. This can only be a tactic to distract from the real issues,” the statement reads in part.
Rwanda added that until the problem of FDLR, which operates in close collaboration with the DRC army, is taken seriously and addressed, security in the Great Lakes region cannot be achieved. This is happening in full view of MONUSCO, which has been present in DRC for more than twenty years, but with no solution in sight,” it adds.
The Government of Rwanda added that the fact is that there have been attacks and shelling from the DRC into Rwandan territory on multiple occasions, resulting in fatalities and destruction of property. Investigations have been made and were even part of the UN Group of Experts report in June,”
“Rwanda has a legitimate and sovereign right to defend our territory and citizens, and not just wait for disaster to unfold. The presence of M23 and its origins are well-known as a problem of the DRC, which they seek to make a burden of other countries,”
“Rwanda has disarmed and cantoned M23 fighters far from the DRC border. Others scattered in the region, who arc in conflict with their government, are not Rwanda ‘s responsibility. Rwanda also hosts tens of thousands of Congolese refugees, many for more than 25 years,” it adds.
Rwanda says it has consistently raised the issue of the existence of FDLR, whose senior members fled Rwanda after the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi and continue to propagate the genocide ideology. Kigali also maintains that FDLR, with the support of FARDC, has on several occasions shelled Rwandan territory in acts of aggression to destabilize the country.
Last month in an interview, President Kagame said that for peace to prevail in the region, the DRC government must stop leaving in denial and address the issues the issues that led to the insurgency and at the same time commit to uproot armed groups operating in the country, threatening regional peace and security.