The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) President Felix Tshisekedi on Sunday accused Rwanda of backing M23 rebels, who have been involved in a series of clashes with the army since the end of May, reported France 24.
In his first public remarks on the growing crisis between the two countries on state television, Tshisekedi said there’s no doubt that Rwanda supported M23 rebels in clashes in the east of his country that have killed hundreds and displaced tens of thousands. Rwanda has consistently denied accusations of backing the rebels.
“I have always maintained that you have to build bridges rather than walls,” the DRC president said. “Unfortunately, today, we are where we are.”
He warned DRC’s neighboring countries should not mistake its desire for peace with weakness.
“I hope that Rwanda has learned this lesson, because, today, it’s clear, there is no doubt, Rwanda has supported the M23 to come and attack the DRC,” Tshisekedi said.
Mr Tshisekedi’s statement comes as tensions continue to rise between the DRC and Rwanda. The recent resurgence of M23 violence has reignited regional tensions. M23 is a rebel group of ethnic Tutsis in eastern DRC.
Kinshasa has suspended flights of Rwandan airline RwandAir between the two countries and summoned Rwanda’s ambassador to warn him of the country’s position.
Last Monday, M23 rebels retreated from areas it had captured in the Congolese province of North Kivu. But on Friday it warned that the army was planning renewed attacks against its positions. In May, nearly 100,000 people fled their homes as the army clashed with the rebels near Goma town.
Last week, Angola’s President João Lourenço announced that he is organizing a summit between President Tshisekedi and Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame to ease the tensions.
The African Union and the United Nations have both called for calm.