The President of Rwanda, Paul Kagame, and his counterpart from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Félix Tshisekedi, spoke on Monday with the current president of the African Union (AU), Macky Sall, to address the escalation of tension since the resurgence of the rebel March 23 Movement (M23).
“I thank Presidents Thisekedi and Kagame for our telephone conversations yesterday and today in the search for a peaceful solution to the dispute between the DRC and Rwanda,” said Sall, head of State of Senegal.
The president did not specify, however, if the two leaders had spoken directly with each other.
The Senegalese president also encouraged the Angolan head of state, João Lourenço, to “continue his mediation efforts in this regard” as president of the International Conference of the Great Lakes Region (CIRGL).
The tension between Rwanda and the DRC has grown exponentially in recent months, after the reactivation in March of fighting between the Congolese Army and the M23, which, according to Kinshasa, has the support of the neighboring country, an extreme that Kigali denies. .
Both countries have requested the intervention of the Expanded Joint Verification Mechanism (EJVM), established by ICGLR to investigate security incidents in its twelve member states.
Rwanda demanded this Saturday that the DRC release two soldiers from its Army kidnapped when they were patrolling on the border with that country, after the Congolese government suspended that same day the flights to its territory of Rwandair -Rwandan flag airline- in protest for allegedly supporting the rebels.
This Monday, the spokesman for the Congolese Executive, Patrick Muyaya, assured that the country does not rule out the “rupture of diplomatic relations” with Rwanda.
Last week, the Congolese Armed Forces recaptured several towns taken by the M23, after intense fighting in the northeast of the country.
The M23 was created on April 4, 2012, when Congolese soldiers rose up due to the loss of power of their leader, Bosco Ntaganda, prosecuted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for war crimes, and due to alleged breaches of the agreement of peace of March 23, 2009, which gives its name to the movement.
The group demanded to renegotiate that agreement signed by the Congolese guerrilla National Congress for the Defense of the People (CNDP) for their integration into the Army, in order to improve their conditions.
The CNDP, made up mainly of Tutsis (an ethnic group that largely suffered the genocide in Rwanda at the hands of the Hutus in 1994), was formed in 2006 to -among other objectives- combat the Hutus of the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), a refugee group in the jungles of the Congo after the genocide.
The M23 occupied Goma, capital of the northeastern Congolese province of North Kivu, for two weeks in 2012, but international pressure forced it to withdraw and begin peace negotiations with the Kinshasa government.
Eastern DRC has been mired in conflict fueled by rebel militias and Army attacks for more than two decades, despite the presence of the UN peacekeeping mission (MONUSCO), which has more than 14,000 troops.