DRC criticises Rwanda after report claims its army supports rebels

The Democratic Republic of Congo has criticized Rwanda for allegedly supporting rebels within its borders after a report to the UN Security Council said there was evidence Kigali’s armed forces were supporting rebels in the mineral-rich country.

Late last year, the M23 group resurfaced and launched an offensive in conflict-ridden eastern Congo, causing deaths and mass displacement. Some 170,000 people have been displaced by violence since November last year. The United Nations said in MayThe attacks have angered locals and sparked deadly protests against UN peacekeepers operating in eastern Congo.

The unpublished report of the UN panel said there was “conclusive evidence” that members of the Rwandan Armed Forces supported the M23 rebels. The findings, released by news agencies on Thursday, sparked a new round of accusations between the two countries.

“Members of the Rwandan Defence Forces did supply the M23 with weapons, ammunition and uniforms and carried out joint attacks with the terrorist movement,” the Congolese government said in a statement on Friday.

It said the alleged evidence collected by the United Nations included photos of Rwandan soldiers at the M23 camp, drone footage showing “hundreds of soldiers entering Congolese territory, and photos and videos of M23 fighters wearing Rwandan army uniforms and equipment”.

“Rwanda can no longer deny these allegations and must admit its guilt and responsibility for our country’s instability,” the Congolese government added on Friday.

The Financial Times has not seen the report.

“Rwanda cannot comment on unpublished and unsubstantiated reports,” the Rwandan government said in a statement, stressing that the UN Security Council had received a report from the panel in June that “does not contain any of these false allegations. “.

“The fact is that the Democratic Republic of the Congo has carried out attacks and shelling on Rwandan territory, causing casualties and property damage,” the Rwandan government added. “It is well known that the existence of the M23 and its origins are a problem in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and they are trying to give other The state is a burden.”

The United States expressed concern about the security situation on the border between the two countries. Next week, top U.S. diplomat Anthony Blinken will visit Kinshasa and Kigali to “support efforts in the African region to promote peace in eastern DRC”.

Rwanda and Uganda invaded Congo in wars in the 1990s that killed millions and spawned a string of militias that have remained active in a conflict that has resurfaced with renewed strength in recent months.

Kigali has repeatedly denied supporting the M23. Instead, it accused Kinshasa of supporting the FDLR, or FDLR, among its ranks, the Hutus accused of genocide against the Rwandan Tutsi in 1994. M23 is dominated by Congolese Tutsi and claims to protect Tutsi from radical Hutu groups such as FDLR.

In an interview with the Financial Times last month, Congolese President Felix Tshisekedi accused Rwanda of profiting from the country’s mineral wealth. Its belt contains gold and some of the world’s largest deposits of coltan, used in electronic equipment.

“The M23’s comeback comes as the security situation in eastern Congo has deteriorated over the past year, with other armed groups, sometimes government soldiers, committing widespread violence, unlawful killings and other serious abuses,” Human Rights Watch said in a report last month. report.

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