Rwanda’s Paul Kagame says no plans to send troops to DR Congo
The problems in the Democratic Republic of Congo can be solved without Rwanda’s involvement, President Paul Kagame said on Monday.
The Rwandan leader said his country is okay not deploying following the recent decision under the East African Community (EAC Conclave on DR Congo to deploy a regional force to end armed conflict in the country’s troubled mineral-rich eastern region.
“That is fine (not to deploy RDF. We are not begging anyone to participate. I would, actually, be happy for the problems there to be solved without (our involvement,” President Kagame said in an interview with the national broadcaster, Rwanda Broadcasting Agency.
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“If anybody has a solution, why would I have a problem…. If the force is going to support that political process to find a solution, I have no problem,” he said. Rwanda also needs assurance of its security concerns, including addressing the presence of the FDLR on Congolese territory and stopping attacks and shelling on its territory, the head of state added.
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“DRC has problems it has to deal with, just like we have as sovereign countries. What is unacceptable, however, is to watch as armed groups from the DRC attack us and kill our people.”
Mr Kagame reiterated Rwanda’s stance on political dialogue to resolve the conflict. In particular, he singled out the issue of the Kinyarwanda-speaking Banyamulenge and the Banyarwanda of North Kivu, who have faced a rising contestation of citizenship and belonging.
“They speak Kinyarwanda, but they are Congolese citizens. How they became citizens of DR Congo can’t be blamed on Congo or Rwanda.”
Hate speech and hostility against Rwandans and Rwandan-speaking Congolese have risen in recent days after Kinshasa accused Kigali of backing M23 rebels who are behind the armed conflict. Kigali denies any role.
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Two weeks ago, regional leaders endorsed President Uhuru Kenyatta’s call to deploy boots on the ground — the East African Standby Force, EASF. EAC military chiefs agreed on the Concept of Operations for troop contribution to the force by the bloc’s member states, which was endorsed by the heads of state. The actual deployment date is yet to be decided, although a dispatch from the meeting in Nairobi indicated details would be shared early in July.
Kinshasa agreed to the deployment but without Rwandan troops.