Alain Mukuralinda, the Deputy Government Spokesperson, refuted claims by the Democratic Republic of the Congo that Rwanda is supporting M23 rebel group, citing that the country is being used as a scapegoat in the conflict between the country’s government and M23 rebel group.
On Saturday, DR Congo made a decision to suspend RwandAir flights to the country, saying that it was in response to Rwanda’s alleged backing for M23.
Mukuralinda however said Rwanda seeks peace for the region.
He was speaking on Sunday, May 29, during Rwanda Television talk show “Ishusho y’Icyumweru.”
“The problem between DR Congo and M23 is an issue between Congolese. If that is not based on while people look for a solution to it, the problem will persist,” Mukuralinda observed
He said that some DR Congo leaders have been looking for a ‘scapegoat’ to cover internal issues [arising from their weaknesses] in their country, in order to appeal to the public opinion and make people become their supporters.
“This has been there for long. There are people who profit from the claim that Rwanda causes problems to DR Congo; but those are short-lived gains. That’s why you wonder why the détente that has been existing has disappeared. It means that there is a change in the balance – people who had put efforts in finding ways the two countries can look for a solution to the existing problem are outweighed by those who do not want it. That is the situation we are in; and therefore, Rwanda becomes a scapegoat,” he observed.
M23 fighting should not be linked to Rwanda
Mukuralinda indicated that the fact that there is a part of people of Congolese nationality who speak Kinyarwanda, it does not categorically mean they are supported by Rwanda, any time a problem occurs.
“If M23, which is in that part [of DRC that speaks Kinyarwanda] is advocating for the residents of that area for given issues, so that the DR Congo Government responds to them, those issues must be considered, they must be solved,” he said.
On Monday, May 23 this year, the Rwanda Defence Force requested an inquiry into a cross-border shelling of rockets that landed on Rwandan territory the same day.
According to a statement by the RDF, the shelling, which occurred at around 10 am on Monday, injured “several civilians” and damaged property in Musanze district, Northern Province of Rwanda.
Later, on Saturday May 28, the Rwanda Defence Force requested authorities in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) to secure the release of two Rwandan soldiers kidnapped last week while on patrol.
This followed an increase in tension between the DR Congo army (FARDC) and the M23 rebel group near the Rwandan border, as well as cross-border shelling of rockets on Rwandan territory, which RDF described as provocative.
There are over 140 armed groups in that part [DR Congo] including Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), which intends to destabilise Rwanda’s security and sometimes works with the Congolese Government in operations to fight other armed groups, Mukuralinda said, adding that this is a problem.
He remarked that there were agreements reached to disarm all FDLR members, but that the implementation has not been effective.
“DR Congo should implement the reached decisions, and follow the set mechanism,” he said.
Jean Baptiste Gasominari, a lawyer, said that the recurrence of the M23 problem takes its roots in DR Congo which had several agreements with this armed groups but did not honour.
“The M23 which is fighting in DR Congo now, has been for five years, living in the DR Congo forests after relocating from Uganda, without fighting as it waited for the agreement signed by the two parties to be honoured. The battle arose because they [M23] were attacked,” he said.
“When a person is attacked, they defend themselves. If they [M23] defended itself from the attack, and maybe, they [DR Congo army] found them stronger than they expected, those are the issues they should be considering through their intelligence organs.”