Rwandan President Paul Kagame said Monday that the means to a peaceful end of hostilities in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) lies in diplomatic processes which were launched in Kenya’s capital Nairobi and Luanda, the capital of Angola.
He made the remarks following Sunday’s phone talks with the UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, about the escalating conflict in eastern DRC.
The DRC accuses Rwanda of backing the rebels, a charge Kigali has persistently denied.
Sunday’s talks came as rebels gained ground, capturing some key towns in the Rutshuru territory in the DRC’s North Kivu Province after days of fighting.
In a tweet, Kagame said he held a “good discussion” with Guterres on the conflict in eastern DRC. “The ways and means to de-escalate the conflict and address the issues to a peaceful end in eastern DRC are with us building on the Nairobi, Luanda and other international efforts,” the Rwandan leader said.
We just have to commit ourselves to applying them, he said.
Kagame and his Congolese counterpart Felix Tshisekedi in July held talks aimed at defusing tensions between the two neighboring countries.
The talks, brokered by president Joao Lourenco in Luanda, were convened amid tensions over allegations that Rwanda is backing the M23 rebels in the DRC. The summit agreed upon dialogue and a “roadmap” which includes the reactivation of a joint intelligence team as well as addressing the issue of Rwandan rebels of the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) based in the DRC.
But on Saturday, the tensions between the two countries hit a new low after Kinshasa expelled Rwandan ambassador to the country Vincent Karega amid intensified fighting between the M23 rebels and DRC government troops in the North Kivu province. Rwanda in a statement Sunday ‘regretted’ the decision to expel its ambassador.
The Nairobi process launched by the East African Community bloc in April, meanwhile, emphasizes dialogue under the chair of former Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta.
However, Kinshasa has said it will not accept talks with M23, saying it is a terrorist group being externally supported to continue the war, which presents a challenge.
Guterres spoke with the President of Angola, Joao Lourenco, Felix Tshisekedi of the DRC, Paul Kagame of Rwanda, William Ruto of Kenya and Macky Sall of Senegal, who is also Chairperson of the African Union, following the resumption of hostilities between Congolese government troops and M23 rebels in eastern DRC.
Guterres expressed deep concerns over the resumption of the hostilities which have so far resulted in civilian casualties, displaced thousands, and led to the injury of four peacekeepers from the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO).
“The Secretary-General urges the M23 and other armed groups to immediately cease hostilities and to disarm unconditionally,” a statement issued by the Secretary General’s spokesperson after the talks said.