I don’t need permission from anybody when it comes to defending this country - Kagame

On 23 January 2024 at 02:49

President Paul Kagame, addressing the National Umushyikirano Council, emphatically stated that Rwanda played no role in initiating the conflict in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Kagame reassured that Rwanda would defend its territorial integrity without seeking permission from anyone.

In his state of the nation address, Kagame discussed various issues, including the ongoing security crisis in eastern DRC, where clashes persist between the Congolese Army and the M23 rebel group.

The DRC accuses Rwanda of supporting the rebels, a claim that Rwanda vehemently denies.

Rwanda urges its neighbor to address internal problems without involving neighboring nations in its affairs. Simultaneously, Rwanda accuses the DRC of collaborating with FDLR, a terrorist group formed by individuals responsible for the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.

Despite these accusations, Congolese leaders have threatened to wage war on Rwanda instead of focusing on the rebel group.

During the National Dialogue Council, Kagame clarified, "Rwanda was not involved in any way. I am giving you a fact; go and investigate and prove me wrong. Rwanda never got involved in starting this fighting."

Kagame highlighted efforts to make the conflict appear as Rwanda’s problem, emphasizing the combination of hate speeches and displacements in eastern DRC as contributing factors. He suggested that pushing Tutsis to Rwanda was a misguided strategy to address the M23 problem.

The President questioned why Congolese leaders blamed Rwanda while acknowledging the accused individuals as their citizens. He also criticized the coalition formed with FDLR, which previously led to shelling on Rwandan territory.

Amid provocations, shelling, and collaboration attempts targeting the M23 rebels, Kagame stressed Rwanda’s unwavering commitment to defending its borders. He asserted, "When it comes to defending this country that has suffered for so long and nobody came to help, I don’t need permission from anybody to do what we have to do to protect ourselves. I have said it in a broad daylight. I have said it to those who matter in this problem."

Since the M23 rebel group resumed fighting at the end of 2021, citing the defense of Congolese Tutsi communities, Rwanda remains resolute in its stance, emphasizing the country’s commitment to self-defense in the face of accusations and threats.