Rwanda: Misguided Approach to Solving Congolese Problems Only Worsens the Situation – Biruta

The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Vincent Biruta, has said that the misguided approach to pacifying eastern DR Congo has only worsened the persistent security challenges in the restive region for close to three decades.

He was responding to a tweet and subsequent statement by US Secretary of State Antony Blinken that followed the latter’s conversation with President Paul Kagame.

Kagame and Blinken spoke on phone where they discussed the ongoing conflict in the eastern DR Congo.

Blinken said he urged Rwanda to “stop supporting the M23 rebel group” an accusation that Rwanda has long dismissed, maintaining that this is a Congolese issue.

M23 is a group of Congolese fighters, mainly from Eastern DR Congo, which was primarily formed to compel their government to respect earlier commitments made to pacify their region, among others.

In a tweet put out by Blinken and a subsequent statement issued by his spokesperson, the former expressed support to the ongoing mechanisms to restore normalcy in the eastern DR Congo including a call for “concrete progress on and implementation of commitments made during these discussions, including the November 23 Luanda Mini-Summit on Peace and Security communiqué.”

Blinken condemned the resurgence of hate speech and public incitement against Kinyarwanda speaking Congolese and recalled the “real and horrible” consequences of such rhetoric in the past.

He however didn’t refer to the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi which occurred as a result of similar acts.

Also, in his statement, Blinken did not mention the existence of the FDLR terrorists that are composed of remnants of those responsible for the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.

Rwanda has for decades expressed concerns over the FDLR and recently, reports including by the UN accused the DR Congo of embedding FDLR into their national army, FARDC.

The Congolese have not come out to deny this.

The alliance between FARDC and FDLR, according to Kigali, is responsible for several attacks on the Rwandan territory and skirmish attacks at claimed lives of civilians.

Responding to Blinken, foreign minister Biruta made a four-point thread on twitter highlighting Rwanda’s position and key concerns.

“Yesterday President Kagame had good discussions with Secretary Blinken, but differences in understanding of the issue remain. The wrong and misguided approach of the international community continues to exacerbate the problem,” said Biruta in his introductory part before outlining his key points.

Biruta challenged Blinken to rightfully apportion responsibility saying that; “A lasting solution requires the responsibility to be placed where it belongs” he went on to outline the four-point note saying that, “The dysfunction of the DRC government and its institutions, and the support to FDLR.”

Yesterday President Kagame had good discussions with @SecBlinken, but differences in understanding of the issue remain. The wrong and misguided approach of the international community continues to exacerbate the problem. 1/4– Vincent Biruta (@Vbiruta) December 5, 2022

Rwanda’s second point as Biruta put it was on holding DR Congo government to account with regards to its internal issues and not externalising them.

“External interference and dictates in regional and continental efforts serve to shield DR Congo from accountability and emboldens them to be unresponsive to commitments made through ongoing processes,” reads Biruta’s response to Blinken.

With regard to Rwanda supporting M23 as stated by Blinken, Biruta responded in his third point saying that, “M23 should not be equated to Rwanda. It is not Rwanda’s problem to solve.”

Biruta echoed President Kagame’s recent statement on respecting territorial intergrety saying that Rwanda is obliged to protect itself from any external threats.

In his fourth point, Biruta indicated that; “The security concerns of Rwanda need to be addressed, and where others may not feel obliged to, Rwanda is and will continue to do so.”

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