Rwandan President Paul Kagame absent for talks with DR Congo in Angola
Rwandan President Paul Kagame did not attend to the talks, for reasons that are yet to be known.
In light of the increased violence taking place in eastern Congo's North Kivu province between M23 fighters and Congo's FARDC, DR Congo's President Felix Tshisekedi and Rwandan Foreign Minister Vincent Biruta met in the capital of Angola, Luanda, on Wednesday, to discuss a plan of action for the restoration of peace in the DRC and the normalization of relations between the DRC and Rwanda.
Rwandan President Paul Kagame did not attend the talks, for reasons that are yet to be known.
Former President Uhuru Kenyatta chairs a Peace and Security in Eastern DRC summit attended by Presidents Joao Lourenco of Angola , DRC's Felix Tshisekedi, Burundi's Evariste Ndayishimiye and Rwanda's Foreign Affairs minister Vincent Biruta in Luanda, Angola. pic.twitter.com/uU0o6ZXEug— Africa News Network (@AfricaNewsKE) November 23, 2022
The Congolese M23 seized vast kilometers of territory across North Kivu and moved toward the region's main city of Goma in combat that has displaced tens of thousands of people.
The fighting also reignited regional tensions, with the DRC accusing its much smaller neighbor Rwanda of backing the M23, something that UN experts and US officials have also pointed to in recent months.
The clashes have triggered a diplomatic row, with the DRC accusing Rwanda of abetting the rebels, something that its far smaller neighbor denies.
On November 6, the foreign ministers of both countries, Rwandan Foreign Minister Vincent Biruta and DRC Foreign Minister Christophe Lutundula met in Luanda to speed up efforts to de-escalate the political crisis.
Following their meeting in Angola, the foreign ministers stated in a joint statement that they agreed to pursue talks "as a priority way of resolving the political crisis between the two brotherly countries" and to define "a timetable for accelerating" the de-escalation plan signed in July.
Rwandan President Paul Kagame and President of the DRC Felix Tshisekedi had agreed on July 7 at a summit in Angola to end hostilities, an agreement that Angola's President Joao Lourenco called a "ceasefire".
But shortly after the agreement was announced, clashes resumed the following day.
After a short period of calm, the M23 militia sparked clashes again in October, taking over large territories in eastern DRC and causing thousands to be displaced.
La population de Goma manifeste pour dire non à l’agression Rwandaise pic.twitter.com/B7y8iLAXpH— Moses Sawasawa (@moses_sawasawa) October 31, 2022
On November 19, it was reported that international calls for help were mounting as violence was further escalating.
Former Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta said Rwandan President Paul Kagame was prepared to pressure the resurgent M23 militant group to cease fire and withdraw from conquered territory. Kenyatta is mediating the conflict.
Kenyatta is the East African Community's "facilitator" in efforts to restore peace and security in the mineral-rich east of the impoverished country where many armed groups are active.
"Kenyatta, in discussion with President Kagame, agreed on the need for an immediate ceasefire," Kenyatta's office said on November 18 after a phone call between the two men.
"President Kagame also agreed to assist the EAC facilitator to urge the M23 to ceasefire and withdrawal from captured territories," it said in a statement in English.
However, Kigali denies supporting the M23 and accuses Kinshasa of colluding with the FDLR, a former Rwandan Hutu rebel group established in the DRC after the 1994 genocide of mainly Tutsis in Rwanda.
THE M23 OFFICIAL COMMUNIQUE OF NOVEMBER 22nd, 2022 pic.twitter.com/K5KTF81CDv— Général Sultan MAKENGA notre Espoir (@GSMnotreEspoir) November 23, 2022
Relations between the DRC and Rwanda have been strained since the overwhelming entry of Rwandan Hutus suspected of slaying Tutsis during the 1994 Rwanda genocide in the eastern DRC.
The M23 first leapt to prominence 10 years ago when it captured the city of Goma, the city of North Kivu, before they were driven out and operated underground.
It re-emerged in late 2021 after the DRC allegedly failed to honour a pledge to integrate its fighters into the army, among other demands.
Read more: M23 rebels attack army in eastern DR Congo town leading to heavy fight