Home NewsNational DRC Crisis: Kagame-Lourenço Meeting In Luanda Lays Ground For Talks

DRC Crisis: Kagame-Lourenço Meeting In Luanda Lays Ground For Talks

by Edmund Kagire
8:39 pm

President Kagame held talks with President in Luanda on Monday, on the situation in DRC. Photos/Urugwiro Village.

A  meeting between President Paul Kagame and his Angolan Counterpart Joao Lourenço in the Angolan capital Luanda on Monday laid ground for possible talks between Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), to resolve the longstanding conflict that has plagued the eastern part of the vast nation.

President Kagame and President Lourenço held a bilateral discussion on the security situation in DRC. The Heads of State agreed on key steps towards resolving the conflict which has escalated in recent months.

The Head of State arrived in Angola in on Monday morning where he was received by President Lourenço  at Palácio da Cidade Alta for a one day working visit which centred on the crisis in Eastern DRC

“President Kagame and President Lourenço held a bilateral discussion on the security situation in DRC. The Heads of State agreed on key steps towards addressing the root causes of the conflict, and the need to uphold the Luanda and Nairobi processes to achieve peace and stability in the region,” the Office of the President said on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter.

The two leaders discussed the roadmap to restore peace in Eastern DRC.

While President Kagame’s office did not shed more light on the meeting, reports from Angola indicate that the Head of State is open to a meeting with his DRC counterpart, Felix Antoine Tshisekedi, to discuss ways of diffusing the ongoing crisis on a date and location yet to be decided.

According to Angolan Foreign Minister Tete Antonio, during the meeting with President Lourenço, President Kagame expressed his willingness to discuss solutions with the DRC government, pointing out that both Rwanda and the DRC have agreed to the principle of holding talks.

Tete revealed that ministerial delegations from both sides are working towards the proposed talks, with President Lourenço leading the process as a mediator. At the end of February, President Lourenço met Tshisekedi over the same issue and after it was announced that the DRC had agreed to meet with his Rwandan counterpart.

President Lourenco was appointed by the African Union as the facilitator of talks between the two countries, bringing on board other countries in the region, to find a peaceful solution to the conflict which escalated after the March 23 Movement, commonly known as M23, picked up arms again, citing grievances with Kinshasa, which they accused of reneging on earlier agreements signed to restore peace.

Since 2021, the rebels have threatened to capture more parts of Eastern DRC, to stop ethnic cleansing and hate speech targeting Kinyarwanda-speaking Tutsi communities especially in North Kivu.

President Kagame was received by a guard of honour.

Fighting escalated since last year, with the DRC Government Forces FARDC, together with a coalition of armed groups, known as ‘Wazalendo’, who include the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), forming an alliance to fight M23 and at the same tight targeting Tutsi civilians communities.

Kinshasa accuses Rwanda of backing the M23 rebels, who have on several occasions threatened to capture the city of Goma, accusations Rwanda denies. Rwanda also accuses DRC of backing the FDLR militia, a group the Rwandan Government says remains a threat to national and regional peace and security.

FDLR was formed by ex-members of the former Rwandan government soldiers FAR and Interahamwe militia members who were accused of participating in the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi and the civil unrest that followed.

Rwanda says the militia, which evolved over the past three decades was in December 2001 (then known as ALIR) added to the Terrorist Exclusion List by the U.S. Department of State, under the provisions of the Patriot Act, continues to propagate the genocide ideology and has carried out cross border attacks in recent years.

Continued denials

Kinshasa has on many occasions attempted to deny its alliance with FDLR regardless of evidence pointing to the militia receiving support from the government and its members being part of the coalition of armed groups targeting Rwandophones in the country’s North Kivu Province.

Speaking at the XXIVth Ordinary Session of the Conference of Heads of State and Government of the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS), on March 8, DRC Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Christophe Lutundula, and the Minister of State for Regional Integration, Antipas Mbusa Nyamuisi, made allegations against Rwanda but failed to mention the collaboration with DRC.

The DRC officials set conditions under which the DRC government can dialogue with Rwanda, but not with M23, and also made several assertions targeting Rwanda which were dismissed by the Rwandan Government Spokesperson, Yolande Makolo, who accused Lutundula of dishonesty.

“This statement from the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the DRC is ‘indecent’ but nevertheless not surprising. The DRC government collaborated before, during and after the genocide against the Tutsi, with the extremist Rwandan government which propagated divisions and planned the genocide,”

“Today, this policy continues through the preservation, financing and integration of the FDLR – a group which descended from the genocidaires – within the FARDC. Rwanda is seriously concerned by the spread, by the FDLR, of anti-Tutsi genocidal ideology in the Great Lakes region,” Makolo posted on X.

She added that for more than 30 years, the genocide ideology has found fertile ground in the DRC and is even spread by senior officials, including Minister.

Rwanda maintains that the solution to the crisis is in addressing the historical causes of the conflict that led to the thriving of more than 100 armed groups in Eastern DRC, including FDLR, as well as the grievances of M23, which the DRC government has failed to address for decades.

The Government of Rwanda also accuses DRC of warmongering, with President Tshisekedi on several occasions declaring war against Rwanda, even threatening to change the leadership, acts Rwanda says go against the Nairobi and Luanda Peace Processes aimed at finding a peaceful solution to the crisis.

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