Home NewsNational DRC Crisis: Rwanda Says Ready To Defend Self Against War Threats, Accuses U.S Of Shifting Goal Posts

DRC Crisis: Rwanda Says Ready To Defend Self Against War Threats, Accuses U.S Of Shifting Goal Posts

by Edmund Kagire
1:22 am

Dr. Vincent Biruta, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, says Rwanda ready to defend self against any kind of attack.

The Government of Rwanda says it is ready to defend the country from all kinds of threats following increasing warmongering by officials of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and will also seek clarifications from the U.S Government, following a statement issued by the State Department, seemingly showing a shift in position and tone on the situation.

A statement issued by the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, Dr. Vincent Biruta on Sunday, in the aftermath of meetings in Addis Ababa aimed at calming the situation, states that Rwanda is deeply concerned by the abandonment of the Luanda and Nairobi Processes by the Kinshasa government, and by the international community’s indifference to DRC’s dramatic military build-up.

Efforts by regional leaders to restore regional peace processes were disregarded by DRC President Felix Antoine Tshisekedi, whose government continues to launch massive combat operations in North Kivu, in contravention of the decisions of regional mechanisms.

Rwanda says the operation “clearly aims to expel M23 and Congolese Tutsi civilians into neighboring countries, working in concert with the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), a Rwandan ethnic militia which is directly linked to the genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda in 1994.”

“The recent M23 advances are due to the DRC’s decision to expel the East African Community Regional Force in December 2023, which oversaw ceasefire and withdrawal efforts,” the statement says, adding that Kinshasa continues to disregard its duty to address the deeply rooted issues that have plagued the Eastern part of the country for decades.

“Protecting the rights and lives of Congolese Tutsi is the responsibility of the Democratic Republic of Congo. The consistent failure to do so has exposed the entire Great Lakes Region to thirty years of conflict and instability. Hundreds of thousands of Congolese Tutsi have lived as refugees in East Africa for decades, essentially forgotten,”

“Hate speech and crude tribalism have become the currency of Congolese politics under the administration of President Félix Tshisekedi, and ethnic discrimination and targeted arrests and killings have become routine. FDLR is fully integrated into the Congolese Armed Forces (FARDC), as repeatedly documented by the UN Group of Experts,” the government statement reads

“Taken together, these facts represent a serious threat to Rwanda’s national security. Because of that growing risk, Rwanda’s position is that the M23 issue must be resolved politically amongst Congolese. It will not be accepted for the problem to be externalized into Rwanda, by force, once again,” Dr. Biruta said, reiterating President Kagame’s position in Addis Ababa.

War threats- We take them for their word

Rwanda also said it is ramping up its military capacities to deal with the imminent threat posed by the Congo’s Tshisekedi, who continues to mobilise efforts to launch a war against Rwanda.

“The Congolese political and military leadership, including President Félix Tshisekedi, has also repeatedly declared their intention to invade Rwanda and change its government by force. Rwanda takes them at their word, and has adjusted our posture accordingly,”

“This includes measures to ensure complete air defense of Rwandan territory, and to degrade offensive air capabilities, following the introduction of advanced Chinese CH-4 attack drones by DRC in 2023, and repeated violations of Rwandan air space by Congolese fighter jets,” Rwanda said.

Shifting goalposts 

Rwanda also responded to a statement issued by the U.S. Department of State on 17 February 2024, in which the U.S strongly condemns the worsening violence in the eastern DRC, “caused by the actions of the Rwanda-backed, U.S.- and UN-sanctioned M23 armed group” and calls on “to immediately withdraw all Rwanda Defense Force personnel from the DRC.”

The statement however falls short of holding DRC accountable, but calls on the government of the DRC to continue to support confidence building measures, “including ceasing cooperation with the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), an armed group named as a “negative force” by regional bodies and the government of the DRC, and which exposes the civilian population to risk.

Rwanda now says this abrupt shift in language and finger pointing in the statement signed by Matthew Miller, State Department Spokesperson, fundamentally distorts the realities in DRC, and stands in puzzling contradiction with the substance and tone of the confidence-building process initiated by the U.S. Director of National Intelligence in November 2023, which created a productive framework for de-escalation.

“Rwanda will seek clarification from the U.S. Government to ascertain whether its statement represents an abrupt shift in policy, or simply a lack of internal coordination,” Dr. Biruta said.

“It was the U.S. Department of State which in December 2001 added FDLR – then known as “ALIR a.k.a. Interahamwe, ex-FAR” – to the Terrorist Exclusion List under the provisions of the Patriot Act, after the group murdered, and in some cases raped, eight Western tourists in Bwindi, Uganda, including two Americans,”

“To characterize this genocidal and terrorist outfit merely as an “armed group named as a ‘negative force’ by regional bodies and the government of the DRC” is a shocking and cynical act of realpolitik, which calls into question the ability of the United States to serve as a credible mediator in the Great Lakes Region,” Rwanda added.

Rwanda maintains that DRC’s support to FDLR is a matter of state policy, not the choice of individual actors, and this will continue to stand in the way for peacebuilding.

“Ending Congolese state support for FDLR, and ensuring their demobilization and repatriation to Rwanda, is a non-negotiable requirement to protect Rwanda’s territorial integrity and guarantee the preservation of our hard-won national unity for future generations,”

“Accordingly, Rwanda reserves the right to take any legitimate measures to defend our country, so long as this threat exists. Rwanda appreciates and fully supports the tireless mediation efforts of regional leaders, notably President João Lourenço of Angola,” the Rwandan statement says.

Rwanda said it remains committed to taking extraordinary steps to achieve security and stability in our region by addressing the root causes of the conflict.


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