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Worry as Rwanda Opposes AU Support for SADC Force in DRC Conflict
Rwanda has opposed plans by the African Union Commission (AUC) to provide support to the Southern African Development Cooperation (SADC) forces (SAMIDRC) supporting the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) in the war against the M23 rebels.

“The Government of Rwanda wishes to bring to the attention of the AUC that the intention to compel the African Union to support the SAMIRC deployment can only exacerbate the conflict,” said Kigali in a note verbale to the AUC on February 2.

“Any support by the African Union to SAMIDRC would also imply supporting the government of the DRC’s offensive posture and would undermine the peaceful settlement of the decades-long crisis in the Eastern DRC (EDRC),” the note added.

“The Government of Rwanda would like to request that the Chairperson of the AUC use his good offices to encourage the Government of the DRC to pursue a peaceful solution within the Nairobi and Luanda processes.”

The note verbale came days before the virtual meeting of the Peace and Security Council (PSC) of the African Union to consider the situation in the Eastern DRC (EDRC) and the deployment of the SADC Mission in the DRC (SAMIDRC).

Rwanda had earlier petitioned the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) to block any form of support for the SAMIDRC, saying it would dissuade Kinshasa from seeking a political solution to the crisis in the eastern DRC.

In its letter to AUC, Rwanda said it had “learned with great concern that one of the objectives of the meeting is to endorse the deployment of SAMIDRC and assess possible support that the African Union and other strategic partners could extend to SAMIDRC.”

The DRC accuses Rwanda of supporting the M23 rebellion to destabilize the mineral-rich eastern Congo for economic gain, a claim Kigali vehemently denies.

DRC President Felix Tshisekedi attending the mini-summit on peace and security in Congo in February 2024

Header advertisement The United Nations recently accused Rwanda of deploying surface-to-air missiles in the DRC to help the M23 offensive capture the strategic town of Sake, about 27 km from Goma city.

Rwanda said it was defending its airspace from violations by the Congolese armed forces.

The SAMIDRC forces have since helped Congolese forces keep the M23 rebel advances in check.

Coalition Rwanda claimed in its letter that SAMIDRC is fighting alongside a FARDC-led coalition, which includes the FDLR genocidal forces, ethnic-driven local armed groups allied to the FDLR under the umbrella of Wazalendo, and Burundian armed forces under a bilateral arrangement, as well as European mercenaries and private military security companies, including one associated with the former Blackwater, as reported by the United Nations Group of Experts on the DRC in December 2023.

“SAMIDRC as an offensive force in coalition with these elements cannot substitute for a political process that has been blocked by the government of the DRC. Therefore, the African Union is urged to not “authorize” or fund SAMIDRC,” said Kigali.

DRC President Felix Tshisekedi recently ordered its army officers to cease all forms of support for the FDLR and also arrested a high-ranking military officer for flouting the presidential directive.

Regional leaders have since urged Rwanda and the DRC to resolve their conflict peacefully.

Rwanda told the AUC that in addition to the FDLR, whose objective is to overthrow the government of Rwanda and finish the genocide they started in 1994, both the presidents of the DRC and Burundi have publicly stated their intention to support regime change in Rwanda.

“The Government of Rwanda takes these threats very seriously, considering past and current armed threats by the parties involved, especially those that the DRC and Burundi host on their territories, and their collaboration with the FDLR and its splinter group, the National Council for Renewal and Democracy/Forces for National Liberation (CNRD/FLN), respectively,” said Kigali.

Tshisekedi recently made a u-turn on his threats to invade Rwanda, saying he was ready to peacefully resolve the differences between Kinshasa and Kigali.

Kigali claimed that in the current context of the prevalence of hate speech and persecution spearheaded by the government of the DRC, with the support of the FDR and Burundian Forces, there is a risk of further escalation of the conflict in the EDRC and increased tensions in the region.

“The Government of Rwanda wishes to recall that the conflict has persisted in the EDRC because the international community has deliberately ignored the root causes, which include support for and preservation of Rwandan genocidal forces in the EDRC, refusal by the Government of the DRC to address genuine grievances of the Congolese Tutsi, and refusal to repatriate hundreds of thousands of Congolese refugees scattered in the region,” said Kigali.

“Rwanda hosts around 100,000 of these refugees, some of whom have lived in Rwanda for almost thirty years now, including more than 15,000 who have, in the last five months, fled ethnic cleansing in the DRC.”

The post Worry as Rwanda Opposes AU Support for SADC Force in DRC Conflict appeared first on Watchdog Uganda.

March 06, 2024 at 11:51AM

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