The Head of State was addressing officials after the wearing-in of new cabinet members on Wednesday 30th November 2022.
Kagame shed light on the current state of relations with the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) which has been accusing Rwanda of supporting M23 rebel group in clashes with Congolese Army (FARDC).
Rwanda has however repeatedly denied the charges and urged the neighbouring country to solve internal problems without drawing it into internal matters.
The tensions escalated mainly at the beginning of this year following the resurgence of M23 over DRC’s failure to implement peace accords signed in 2013 and ongoing persecutions against Rwandophone communities.
During the fight with M23, FARDC reportedly worked with the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), a terrorist group formed by remnant individuals responsible for the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi and shelled Rwandan territory at different times.
The coalition also kidnapped two Rwandan soldiers on patrol this year among other ‘serious provocations’.
Tensions between both countries escalated until Congolese President, Antoine Felix Tshisekedi warned of war with Rwanda in an interview with the Financial Times in July this year.
At the time, Tshisekedi said that his country won’t stand by if Rwanda continues to support M23 rebel group.
“This possibility cannot be ruled out. If Rwanda’s provocation continues, we will not sit and do nothing about it. We are not weak. There is absolutely no doubt that Rwanda is backing the March 23rd Movement. We want peace, but if push comes to shove…at one point we will take action,” he said.
Tshisekedi also underscored that Rwanda is fighting in DRC ‘under the guise of M23’ and accused it of intentions to loot its natural resources.
“Rwanda is fighting in the DRC under the guise of the M23, which was defeated in 2013. Rwanda has illicit vested economic interests in the DRC. As long as order is not restored in the DRC, as long as lawlessness and insecurity prevail, Rwanda will take advantage of that,” he noted.
In his speech yesterday, Kagame alluded to a leader who wants to externalize his country’s problems to Rwanda to postpone elections and advised him to seek another solution.
DRC is expected to hold general elections in December 2023.
Kagame asked the country to allow collaboration with Rwanda to deal with the issue of security problems caused by FDLR but refused.
The President disclosed that he won’t wait for another invitation in case the coalition with FDLR continues to shell Rwandan territory.
“When they started firing across our border, I told him that it is enough invitation. I told the President of Congo that while initially I was seeking the invitation to work with them to deal with the problem, actually firing artillery across our border into our territory is sufficient invitation. That statement still stands,” he said.
Kagame further stated that Rwanda respects other countries’ territorial integrity which must be reciprocal and highlighted that disrupting Rwandans’ security will be costly.
“[…] We are not going to engage in skirmishes that could have been avoided. We are not going to violate anybody’s sovereignty. Territorial integrity will be respected but with so much demand that that happens in our case as well," he noted.
"And so, people along the border can go to bed at night, knowing they will have security for them to sleep all night. Short of that, we will make somebody else spend sleepless nights,” added Kagame.
On Tshisekedi’s warning of war with Rwanda, Kagame emphasized that the country does neither ask for war nor create grounds for conflict as it knows related consequences.
“We know what war means. I have heard some people in interviews in FT-London, France24 - France or TV5 or something like that. Somebody says, I don’t rule out a war with Rwanda. When I used to talk to this person who keeps saying this, I used to advise or humbly tell him that we are actually tired of war. We need to be working together and creating peace between our two countries,” he stated.
“Because, if you are looking for somebody who knows about war, please come to me. I know something about it and know how bad it is. And by that, I know how you cannot have anything better than peace,” added Kagame.
The Head of State said that it would be a wrong way if the country chose to make Rwanda a scapegoat to postpone elections.