Tshisekedi reaffirms intention to wage war on Rwanda

By Esther Muhozi
On 3 May 2024 at 05:46

The President of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Félix Tshisekedi Tshilombo, has reaffirmed his consideration of declaring war on Rwanda if the ongoing talks between leaders of the two countries do not yield positive results.

During his campaign for presidency towards the end of 2023, he stated that if the M23 armed group were to attack the city of Goma, he would ask the Parliament for permission to declare war on Rwanda. He declared, “If their first bullet lands in Congo, in Goma or if an area is captured, I will convene Parliament and request permission to declare war on Rwanda.”

In March 2024, Tshisekedi indicated that he had paused the decision to declare war on Rwanda, choosing the path of dialogue instead, but he noted it was the last chance he was giving .

In an interview with Le Figaro on May 2, 2024, Tshisekedi claimed that M23 does not exist; instead, he alleged that they are Rwandan troops that invaded his country. This is an accusation the Rwandan government has consistently denied, maintaining that it does not interfere in the affairs of another country.

President Paul Kagame, in April 2023, explained that M23 is a group composed of Congolese who were deprived of their rights and labeled as foreigners, leading them to take up arms in 2012 to fight against a government that had abandoned them.

He pointed out that the resurgence of this group, which had disbanded in 2013, was due to unresolved issues.

In March 2024, representatives from Rwanda and the DRC met in Luanda, Angola, to discuss how to resolve the conflicts between the two countries and restore security in the Great Lakes region.

Tshisekedi announced that these representatives plan to meet again soon, but he emphasized that the DRC’s persistent demand is for Rwanda to withdraw its troops from their territory, as Rwanda has repeatedly stated that it does not send troops to another country illegally and respects its sovereignty.

He stated, “There is an ongoing dialogue initiative led by the President of Angola, João Lourenço. Our representatives will travel to Luanda in the coming days to seek a solution.My request is simple: that Rwanda withdraw its troops from Congolese soil.”

The journalist asked Tshisekedi if war with Rwanda is possible if the Luanda talks do not yield the desired solution by the DRC government, to which he replied that war is indeed possible.

Tshisekedi added, “Absolutely, war is possible; I cannot hide that. But I want to delay the deadline as much as possible, focusing our efforts and economy on developing the 145 territories of the DRC, rather than on military engagements.”

In a March 2024 interview with Jeune Afrique, when asked about Tshisekedi’s threat of war, President Paul Kagame responded that the President of the DRC is capable of implementing what he says, but he cannot control the consequences.

The head of state said, “Tshisekedi could do anything as long as he seems unaware of the consequences of his statements as President of the DRC. For me, I see it as a significant issue that I need to address. It means that one night he might wake up and do something you wouldn’t think was possible.”

The relationship between Rwanda and the DRC has been strained since the beginning of 2022, shortly after M23 militants resumed fighting in North Kivu."

Tshisekedi has reaffirmed his consideration of waging war on Rwanda.