President Tshisekedi’s press conference shifts focus to Rwanda

By Esther Muhozi
On 23 February 2024 at 11:50

President Tshisekedi, accompanied by Minister of Communication Patrick Muyaya, convened a press conference with journalist which extended for nearly two hours, primarily centered on the topic of Rwanda. Tshisekedi asserted that Rwanda’s development has been propelled by the exploitation of precious stones and agricultural produce looted from his nation.

The dialogue occurred on Thursday evening, approximately at 8 p.m. Although Muyaya typically engages with journalists regularly, prior to this event, he hinted on Twitter that it would be a momentous press conference.

Approximately 80% of the discussion in the meeting revolved around Rwanda, with Tshisekedi persistently underscoring that his country’s myriad challenges stem from Rwandan actions. He disclosed attempts to impede the recent European Union agreement with Rwanda.

Tshisekedi recounted a past meeting with Rwandan leaders where they said hinted at the threat posed by the FDLR rebel group, asserting it consisted of fewer than 2000 individuals incapable of destabilizing security. Allegedly, Rwandan leaders expressed concern about the group spreading genocide ideology targeting Tutsis, exacerbating tensions.

Meanwhile, clashes intensified in the Sake area near Goma, involving the State Army (FARDC) and allied factions against the M23 group, resulting in the closure of roads to Goma and widespread displacement among the populace, fearing both FDLR and their affiliates.

In addressing the displaced and those affected by conflict, Tshisekedi reassured them of the government’s commitment, vowing not to abandon them and pledging support. He underscored the imperative of bolstering security, announcing substantial investments in the military’s capabilities to safeguard citizens.

Furthermore, he stressed the necessity of constructive dialogue among Congolese communities to eliminate divisive elements and claimed that Rwanda interferes with his country to exploit tribal rifts and pilfer natural resources.

He unabashedly stated, "Today’s Rwanda is constructed on the back of our riches. I am unapologetic in affirming this truth—it thrives on the spoils plundered from the Democratic Republic of the Congo."

He further highlighted the significance of the Wazalendo group, comprising fighters from various armed factions who aligned with the government against the FDLR.

Tshisekedi praised them as heroes with a noble intent in defending the nation against aggressors. He clarified, "Wazalendo are undoubtedly valiant warriors deserving of recognition. Unfortunately, like in any other domain, there are individuals with malicious intentions who misinterpret Wazalendo’s mission as one of violence. This is not the case. Their objective is to safeguard their homeland, and they are justified in their actions, a stance I firmly endorse."

Tshisekedi also addressed security concerns along the Kivu border, accusing Rwanda of instigating attacks. He drew parallels between Rwanda’s actions and those of Russia, advocating for UN Security Council intervention akin to its response to the Russia-Ukraine conflict.

Expressing dissent over the EU-Rwanda agreement, Tshisekedi hinted at potential diplomatic and legal measures to invalidate the agreement.

Turning to the case of Héritier Luvumbu, embroiled in a dispute with Rayon Sports, Tshisekedi voiced solidarity with him, lauding him as a hero. He commended Luvumbu for upholding the dignity of his nation and its people.

Luvumbu, who formerly played for Rayon Sports Football Club, faced repercussions after celebrating a goal by covering his mouth in a political gesture during a match, which has been a symbolic act employed by Congolese people worldwide to divert attention to violence against Kinyarwanda speakers in Eastern Congo.

Reports suggest Luvumbu was sanctioned with a six-month suspension, prompting Rayon Sports to sever ties with him.

Tshisekedi hailed Luvumbu’s actions as courageous. Upon his return to Kinshasa, he was greeted by François Claude Kabulo Mwana Kabulo, the Minister of Sports and Entertainment in the DRC, at N’djili Airport.

Expressing his desire to welcome Luvumbu before his departure to Addis Ababa, Tshisekedi recounted how he monitored Luvumbu’s arrival and promptly coordinated with the Minister of Sports, who assured him of honoring Luvumbu on behalf of the nation.

"I contacted the President of AS Vita Club, my friend Amadou Diaby, and urged him to extend a warm welcome to Luvumbu. I emphasized that Luvumbu, as a distinguished patriot, deserves recognition from AS Vita Club."

"I am aware of the importance of his role in the club and, regardless of any constraints, I am committed to ensuring that Luvumbu is reinstated. Whether it requires personal or national investment, it is imperative to secure his position."

Tshisekedi also pledged to personally commend Luvumbu in the near future, acknowledging his contributions on behalf of the nation.

Tshisekedi has engaged in a war of words and provocative statements against Rwanda following the resurgence of the M23 rebel group. The DRC accuses Rwanda of supporting the group, an accusation denied by Kigali.

In turn, Rwanda blames DR Congo for collaborating with the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), a terrorist group formed by members responsible for the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi. Rwanda urges the country’s leaders to solve internal problems without dragging neighboring nations into their mess.

President Tshisekedi, was accompanied by Minister of Communication Patrick Muyaya as he addressed members of the press.