’M23 is a Congolese problem’ - President Ruto weighs in on Rwanda-DRC conflict

By Wycliffe Nyamasege
On 22 May 2024 at 08:17

Kenyan President William Ruto says that the government of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) holds the key to resolving the conflict in the eastern part of the country, where the Congolese army is fighting the M23 militia, whose members accuse the government of marginalization and persecution.

In a recent interview with the French newspaper Jeune Afrique, the Kenyan Head of State weighed in on the conflict that has, in recent years, negatively impacted the relations between the DRC and Rwanda due to claims that the latter backs M23 rebels.

President Ruto maintained that the conflict was not about Rwanda and the DRC or about Presidents Felix Tshisekedi and Paul Kagame but about Congolese citizens and their government.

“As heads of state, in a meeting, we asked M23 if the people in there are Rwandese or Congolese? And the DRC said these are Congolese, end of question. So if these are Congolese, how does it become a Rwanda problem, how does it become a Kagame problem? Since it is settled that M23 are Congolese, it’s a Congolese problem, and we need a Congolese solution,” President Ruto stated.

He emphasized the need for Tshisekedi’s administration to embrace dialogue with M23 to resolve the underlying issues.

This, he said, includes involving M23 groups in the Nairobi and Luanda peace processes. He insisted that the military is not a solution to the conflict in eastern DRC.

“In our [heads of state] opinion, listening to all the sides, whether it’s using the Luanda or the Nairobi peace process, M23 wants to be involved in the dialogue. They are saying, ’Why are you locking us out? We are Congolese; we have issues we want to talk to our government,’” President Ruto averred.

“I don’t find any better outcome than a citizenship that has grievances and is willing to engage their government in a discussion so that they can sort out their grievances.”

President Ruto said dialogue had helped sort out issues with the opposition in Kenya following his victory in the August 9, 2022, presidential election.

“When the opposition in Kenya raised issues about an election that I won fair and square, six months after the election they said, ’We think we won the election,’ and they caused issues. I told them, ’Okay, let us talk.’ We sat down and talked. It didn’t take anything from me. We engaged in a conversation and settled the issues. There is nothing anybody loses when you engage your citizens in dialogue," President Ruto said while referring to anti-government protests that rocked Kenya last year.