President Kagame says Rwanda ’ready to fight’ with DR Congo if necessary

By Wycliffe Nyamasege
On 21 June 2024 at 07:38

President Paul Kagame says Rwanda is ready to go to war with the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) if necessary, insisting that the conflict in the eastern part of the neighbouring country is a direct threat to Rwanda and its citizens.

President Kagame made the remarks during an interview with France 24 on Thursday, in response to DR Congo President Felix Tshisekedi’s threats to wage war against Rwanda for allegedly supporting M23 rebel group.

"If somebody is saying that in this kind of situation, on the one hand, you may think this person is bluffing or has nothing else to say, but at the same time, given our own experience and history, we don’t take anything for granted," President Kagame stated, adding, "We are ready to fight."

Asked if he was afraid of Western sanctions amid accusation of Rwanda’s troops in eastern DRC, President Kagame said, "We are not afraid of anything."

The Head of State also rubbished claims by President Tshisekedi that Rwanda is organising "a genocide" in eastern DR Congo, instead accusing him of orchestrating the return of a "genocide ideology" targeted at Congolese Tutsis.

"What actually is taking place in eastern Congo should be understood even by the person who leads that country. He does seem to have a selective memory of what to call what is happening there," President Kagame said. "To ignore that and to want to call it something else, somewhere else by somebody, I think you have to be missing something in your mind."

He further accused the international community of turning a blind eye to the root cause of the crisis in eastern DR Congo while accusing Rwanda of having its troops in the neighbouring country.

"’How do you explain that we have 100,000 refugees persecuted in eastern Congo because of their identity, and now they [DR Congo government] wants to turn them into Rwandan citizens when they are Congolese?" President Kagame posed, further raising concerns over the DR Congo government’s support for the FDLR militia, which comprises remnants of the Interahamwe group that perpetrated the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda.

President Kagame maintained that Rwanda had done everything possible to resolve the conflict amicably, blaming his DR Congo counterpart for frustrating various peace initiatives. He, however, reiterated that he has always been ready to meet Tshisekedi to discuss the matter.

"There are processes in our region. There is the Luanda process in Angola, and there has been the Nairobi process in Kenya. There have been other efforts to try and help resolve the problems. For Rwanda, we have always been present and have contributed as much as we can to make it work.

"However, Congo had other ideas. When the East African Community deployed forces to help, the next day, he expelled them and selected those he believed would fight for him to continue what he has been doing. He brought in SADC forces and detached Burundi from the East African forces," he added.