Rwanda says DRC fighter jet violates its airspace

On 7 November 2022 at 12:09

The Government of Rwanda has reported that a fighter jet belonging to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has violated Rwanda’s airspace and landed at Rubavu Airport for short time before departing.

The statement released by the government today reads that the incident occurred in the morning of Monday 7th November 2022.

“A Sukhoi-25 fighter jet from the Democratic Republic of Congo violated Rwandan airspace at 11h20 this morning and briefly touched down at Rubavu Airport in Western Province,” reads the statement in part.

“No military action was taken by Rwanda in response, and the jet returned to DRC. Rwandan authorities have protested this provocation to the DRC who acknowledged the incident,” adds the statement.

Commenting on the incident, the Spokesperson of the Government of Rwanda, Yolande Makolo has via Twitter account indicated that ‘the incursion by the DRC Sukhoi-25 fighter jet is one of many provocations following cross-border shelling of Rwandan territory with rockets earlier this year’.

The provocation has happened following media reports on Sunday that Goma Airport was closed the whole day on Sunday awaiting the arrival of fighter jets.

It comes amidst escalating tensions between Rwanda and DRC over reciprocal accusations related to the fight between Congolese Army (FARDC) and M23 rebel group.

FARDC continues to loose bases to M23 rebel group and attributes its strength to alleged support from Rwanda.

Rwanda has however denied the allegations repeatedly calling the fight with M23 an internal problem which should be addressed by DRC.

DRC President, Félix Tshisekedi recently revealed figuratively that it is time to wage a war on Rwanda after elucidating that diplomatic process is no longer a promising option to restore peace in the eastern part of his country.

Tshisekedi made the revelation in the evening of Thursday 3rd November 2022 as he delivered state of the nation address.

He said that the M23 rebel group is receiving support from Rwanda in terms of resources and reinforcement troops.

Alluding to waging a war on Rwanda, Tshisekedi said that his country had two options to address security problems in eastern DRC: diplomacy and war.

“I have resolved to prefer the first option over the second. So, the diplomatic option has been implemented,” he said.

Tshisekedi also ordered the Congolese army commander to establish dozens of military training centers as part of preparations to respond to alleged Rwanda’s support to M23.

“In response to the appeal of young people to enroll massively in our Armed Forces, I reiterate the instruction given to the Chief of Staff to accelerate the establishment of training centers through the twenty six provinces in our country,” he said.

“The war imposed on us by our neighbours demands sacrifice from each of us. It is time to silence our political differences to defend our motherland together,” added Tshisekedi.

The Senior Defence and Security Advisor in the Office of the President, Gen James Kabarebe has said that Rwanda can’t be drawn into war by provocations of Congolese citizens and politicians speaking ill of the country and staging protests because it would look like a fight with a mad person.

He was responding to a question raised by one of participants of talks that brought together youth volunteers and students from the College of Science and Technology at the University of Rwanda (UR-CST) in the evening of 2nd November 2022.

Gen Kabarebe further revealed that Rwanda fights strategic wars to protect its interests where it can’t be involved in provocations and reprisals over nonsense.

As he officiated the commissioning of 568 new officers of the Rwanda Defence Force (RDF) on Friday 4th November 2022, President Paul Kagame said that their primary job is to maintain security not to provoke wars.

"The Rwandan army and other security organs in our country are meant to protect Rwandans, to protect the country and all its citizens, and safeguard the development we have attained, as we move forward. That is what they stand for. That is where we start. We do not start by thinking that the national army as a profession, is just about fighting wars. That comes last," he said.

"Their primary duty is security, securing our development gains. When the latter is threatened by war, that is when fighting comes in, that is why I said that is the last resort. What we and our country stand for and the mindset of our army professionals, is that the starting point is to protect what we have achieved. This is different from building an army that just fights wars that would be wrong," added Kagame.

The provocation follows the meeting between Congolese and Rwandan ministers of foreign affairs in held in Angola on 5th November 2022 to de-escalate tensions through dialogue.

Rwanda has reported that A Sukhoi-25 fighter jet violated its airspace and touched down at Rubavu Airport.