Inside meeting room in Bujumbura when Tshisekedi accepted to engage in negotiations with M23

On 6 February 2023 at 11:50

Prof. Manasseh Nshuti, Rwanda’s State Minister for the East African Community (EAC) Affairs has revealed that the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) accepted to engage in negotiations with M23 while the rebel was requested to lay arms down.

The latter is part of resolutions of the Extra-Ordinary Summit of East African Community (EAC) Heads of State held in Bujumbura on Saturday 4th February 2023.

During an exclusive interview with IGIHE, Prof. Nshuti disclosed that regional Heads of State sticked to dialogue as the ideal process that might put an end to the fighting between Congolese Army (FARDC) and M23.

“What we have agreed upon as the region and considered it to be the best solution to this problem, is that nothing is better than dialogues. They have to endorse it when the resolution is backed by the whole region; otherwise, the presence of regional forces in the country would be useless,” he said.

Even though discussions between Heads of State resolved to opt for the process of negotiations, there are footages showing Congolese President Felix Tshisekedi chatting with Maj Gen Jeff Nyagah, the commander of EAC troops deployed in DRC.

Tshisekedi is heard telling Maj Gen Nyagah that they want the troops he leads to help them in the fight against M23.

Prof. Nshuti has said that fighting M23 was not part of discussions.

“Fighting was not part of discussions because we focused on political process. It was about dialogue not fighting M23 […] They were only asked to cease fire and withdraw as negotiations go on. The option for EAC troops to fight them was not part of discussions,” he noted.

Prof. Nshuti further revealed that Tshisekedi himself also agreed to engage in negotiations with M23.

“We asked them to engage in negotiations and agreed, this time around, that they are going to do so. He [Tshisekedi] accepted it. It is about reaching consensus as a region on what should be done. Ceasefire and withdrawal going hand in hand with negotiations,” he said.

“It is about helping them to restore peace and end hostilities not helping them to fight,” added Prof. Nshuti.

Resolutions held in Bujumbura complement previous ones reached in Luanda, the capital of Angola in November 2022 where concerned parties were urged to end hostilities and engage in dialogue.

At the time, M23 was asked to withdraw from captured areas to be allowed to take part in discussions. The rebel group has so far withdrawn from several areas and handed them over to EAC forces.

However, fighting has been going on between FARDC and M23, which claims that it is protecting Kinyarwanda-speaking communities from attacks by Congolese Army.

The repatriation of foreign armed groups from DRC including the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) was also part of discussions in Bujumbura.

FDLR is a terrorist group formed by individuals responsible for the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.

It was reported at different times that the rebel group works with FARDC to fight M23.

The recent Extra-Ordinary summit of EAC Heads of State held in Bujumbura resolved that DRC should engage in negotiations with M23.