Rwanda denies involvement in Democratic Republic of Congo fighting

Rwanda Defense Force neither involved nor supports activities of former M23 armed group, Defense Ministry says

James Tasamba   | 09.11.2021
Rwanda denies involvement in Democratic Republic of Congo fighting

KIGALI, Rwanda 

Rwanda denied accusations on Tuesday that its soldiers were involved with Congolese rebels from the March 23 Movement (M23) in recent clashes with government troops in North Kivu Province in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of Congo (FARDC) said Monday that fighting with the M23 broke out in North Kivu after rebels attacked military positions of Chanzu and Runyonyi, destabilizing the Rutshuru territory.

The fighting started late Sunday in Rutshuru territory, sending refugees into Uganda.

“The Rwanda Defense Force is neither involved in nor supports any activities of the ex-M23 armed group,” according to a statement by the Rwandan Defense Ministry.

“Any reports in the media or by officials in the region that the ex-M23 armed group originated from or retreated to Rwanda is propaganda aimed at undermining the good relations between Rwanda and DRC,” it said.

The M23 signed a peace agreement in 2013 in Kenya’s capital of Nairobi with the Congolese government.

Under the deal, the rebel group said it would demobilize and renounce violence. The Congolese government in turn committed to implement a demobilization process and grant amnesty to members of the group who had not committed “serious crimes.”

Rwanda said the “ex-M23 group in question did not seek refuge in Rwanda during their retreat from the DRC in 2013 but has been based in Uganda, from where this attack originated, and to where the armed group retreated.”

Brig. Gen. Sylvain Ekenge, deputy spokesman for the FARDC general staff, said Monday that the army is “determined to put an end once and for all to this armed group which must be neutralized definitively.”

But Bertrand Bisimwa, M23’s president, denied his forces launched attacks.

Bisimwa claimed forces have avoided initiating “useless war” and the M23 is “waiting impatiently for the sincerity” of President Felix Tshisekedi to implement the resolutions agreed on by M23 and DRC’s government during peace talks.

Human Rights Watch accused Rwanda in 2013 of backing the M23 -- claims denied by Kigali.​​​​​​​

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