DRC, Rwanda agree to ease tension and normalize diplomatic relations

The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Rwanda on Wednesday agreed to immediately cease hostilities between the two countries, Angolan President João Lourenço has announced.

Following the Wednesday meeting in Luanda, DRC President Felix Tshisekedi and Rwanda’s Paul Kagame also agreed to create an ad-hoc observation mechanism to help ease tensions, he added.

Luanda will next Tuesday host the Rwanda-DRC bilateral joint commission meeting, President Lourenço, who is also the chairman of the International Conference for the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR), said in his capacity as mediator.  He was appointed by the African Union to mediate in the Kinshasa-Kigali crisis.

“I am pleased to announce that we have had positive results, in our view, in that we have agreed on a ceasefire, among other measures that are contained in the roadmap that has just been presented,” President Lourenço added.

Presidents Paul Kagame (Rwanda), João Lourenço (ANgola) and Felix Tshisekedi (DR Congo) speak following a mediation meeting in Luanda on July 6, 2022. PHOTO | COURTESY | DR CONGO PRESIDENCY

Rwanda and DR Congo have been at loggerheads following counter accusations of each country supporting different rebel groups in eastern DRC hostile to the other nation.

DR Congo and Rwanda relations deteriorated after Kinshasa accused Rwanda of backing the M23 rebels, who have been involved in a series of clashes with the army since the end of May. Kigali denied the allegations, but in turn accused DRC of supporting FDLR rebels who are hostile to Rwanda.

On Sunday, President Tshisekedi said that there was no doubt that Rwanda was backing a rebellion in his country after the resurgence of the M23 rebels active in the east of the country, near the border between both countries.

Kinshasa had earlier also suspended Rwandan carrier RwandAir from flying into the country, and summoned Rwanda’s ambassador to warn him of the country’s position.

The medication process was meant to help restore confidence between Rwanda and the DRC.

“This objective will be achieved gradually via a so-called Luanda roadmap based on the re-launch of the DRC-Rwanda joint commission, which has not met for several years,” Tshisekedi’s communication office said. This commission will hold its first meeting on July 12, 2022 in Luanda.

The roadmap stipulates a willingness to normalise diplomatic relations between Kinshasa and Kigali.

“Angola has amassed vast experience in solving conflicts thus I think this conflict between DRC and Rwanda will come to an end with President Lourenço’s mediation,” Macolino Tavares, a political analyst, told The EastAfrican.

“This conflict between brothers has no deep reason to keep on. With Angola mediation it will come soon to an end,” Matias Pires, another analyst, told Angolan state-owned Rádio Nacional de Angola.


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