DR. Congo, Rwanda agree to accelerate de-escalation plan
November 6, 2022 12:04 PM
The foreign ministers of the Democratic Republic of Congo and Rwanda agreed on Saturday to accelerate efforts to de-escalate tensions and resolve their political crisis.
Regional relations in central Africa have been destabilised over recent months, with the DRC accusing its smaller neighbour of backing a rebel militia that has displaced tens of thousands of people.
In a joint statement issued after their meeting in Angola, the ministers agreed to continue talking "as a priority way of resolving the political crisis between the two brotherly countries" and to define "a timetable for accelerating" the de-escalation plan signed in July.
The roadmap for ending hostilities was reached at an Angola-brokered summit between Rwandan President Paul Kagame and his Congolese counterpart Felix Tshisekedi.
At the time, Angola's President Joao Lourenco called it a "ceasefire", but clashes resumed the very next day.
After several weeks of calm, the March 23 Movement (M23) militia went back on the offensive in late October, capturing swathes of new territory in eastern DRC in recent weeks.
Rwanda is accused of supporting the M23, a mainly Tutsi Congolese militia which rose to prominence in 2012.
After laying mostly dormant for years, it resumed fighting last year, claiming the DRC had failed to honour a pledge to integrate them into the army, among other grievances.
Kigali has repeatedly denied backing the rebels, which has soured relations with Kinshasa.
The DRC expelled Rwanda's ambassador at the end of last month, while also recalling its envoy from Kigali.
The eastern DRC has been plagued for nearly three decades by armed groups, many of them inherited from the wars that bloodied the region in the wake of the 1994 Rwandan genocide.
The resurgence of M23 has caused international alarm, with Kenya last week deploying troops to the DRC to bolster an East African force trying to end the bloodshed.
According to the UN, fighting between the Congolese Armed Forces and the M23 has displaced around 50,000 people since October 20, 12,000 of whom have taken refuge in Uganda.