Rwanda seeks clarification from US regarding contradictory position on DRC crisis

By Esther Muhozi
On 19 February 2024 at 10:26

The Government of Rwanda has sought explanations from the United States regarding what it perceives as contradictions in its stance on the issue of insecurity in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

This inquiry was prompted by a statement from the US State Department on February 17, 2024, which renewed accusations against Rwanda for its support of the M23 armed group and called for Rwanda to withdraw its troops, which the US alleges are present in the DRC.

Rwanda denies the allegation of supporting M23 and urges the neighbouring country to solve internal problems without finding an excuse through blame games.

The Rwandan government has expressed its concerns, stating that the US’s announcement disregards all evidence of military collaboration between the DRC’s forces and the FDLR group, which aims to destabilize Rwanda.

According to Rwanda, this oversight contradicts the objectives of a US intelligence program initiated in November 2023, designed to mitigate conflict.

Rwanda’s government articulated its position, stating, the statement issued by the Government of the United States (US) on February 17, 2024, deliberately ignores all visible evidence, and contradicts, in every way, the strategy that had been launched by the US Director of Intelligence in November 2023, which had set a positive course for de-escalation.

Rwanda is seeking clarifications to ascertain whether the US statement signifies a policy reversal or a lack of internal coordination.

The intelligence program in question aimed to assist Rwanda and the DRC in alleviating tensions, addressing the root causes of insecurity, and reducing military presence along their borders to avert conflict and facilitate a ceasefire between M23 and the DRC government.

Rwanda has repeatedly argued that the core issue in the DRC stems from the FDLR terrorist group, supported by regional governments yet it harbors intentions to destabilize Rwanda. The Rwandan government further emphasized that the FDLR, designated by the US as a terrorist organization, openly collaborates with the DRC government, thereby threatening Rwanda’s security.

Highlighting the gravity of the situation, the Rwandan government noted that officials from the state and military in the DRC, including President Félix Tshisekedi himself, have not hesitated to publicly express their desire to invade and overthrow Rwanda’s regime by force.

“Rwanda takes them at their word and has adjusted our posture accordingly. This includes measures to ensure complete defence of Rwandan territory and to degrade offensive capabilities following the introduction of Chinese CH-4 attack drones by DRC in 2023, and repeated violations of Rwandan airspace by Congolese fighter jets,” adds the statement.

Rwanda has urged the DRC government to permanently end its cooperation with the FDLR, disarm the group, and facilitate its repatriation to Rwanda.

Rwanda contends that this is the sole path to ensuring its security and preserving the unity that Rwandans have painstakingly achieved.

Yolande Makolo is the Spokesperson of the Government of Rwanda.